Is your annoying new friend an FBI-planted agent provocateur? For those involved in social activism, via the Portland Independent Media Center, Kristian Williams provides the warning signs from a series of recent cases:
A recent article in Seattle’s Stranger detailed a long-term police operation to monitor, infiltrate, and entrap activists in Seattle. The story is convoluted and more than a little absurd; it’s all rather like the plot of a Coen Brothers’ movie. But the short version is that an undercover Seattle cop infiltrated an after-hours party scene. The SPD hoped to find some dirt on local politicians, the FBI hoped to find a connection to the Earth Liberation Front, and after two years they finally managed to hook someone with a drug scam.
With this in mind, I will sum up three recent cases involving the use of provocateurs against the anarchist and radical environmentalist movements. And I’ll point out some of the warning signs that should have made people wary:
PROVOCATEUR PROFILE #1: “BRYAN OWENS”/BRYAN VAN BRUNT
1- Money issues: Bryan’s habit of throwing around cash meant that, even though a lot of people didn’t like him and were annoyed by his “blustery bro-dude personality,” they were willing to put up with it. He bought drinks, he took people out to dinner, he helped people out with their rent. And it sounds like Bryan paid for everything concerning the party space: “Rent, paint, locks, lumber, drywall, new plumbing—it all came out of Bryan’s pocket.”
2- Legal questions: Bryan had made plans to go to the RNC himself, but was escorted off the plane by the authorities. The reason wasn’t clear: he never really explained, and nothing more seemed to come of the episode — no arrest, no charges. Of course, it turned out, he staged the incident himself to add to his reputation.
3- Bluster: “Several people remember Bryan bragging that he had a record and had been arrested for political action” — though again, the details were lacking.
4- Questions about his personal life: One friend recalls: “When I went to the bathroom [in his apartment], there was nothing in there. . . . You’d expect some soap or towels or something. I started asking how long he’d been living there, and he got all aggravated.’”
5- Responding to normal inquiries with hostility: (See #4).
6- Pressuring others toward illegal action: “Bryan kept pushing Brady [McGarry] toward more radical ‘real militant action,’ asked Brady to teach him how to make Molotov cocktails, and hinted that he wanted to ‘make explosives’ and do some ‘property damage’ at Weyerhaeuser or at CEOs’ houses, Brady remembers. He wanted to talk about the Earth Liberation Front. Brady remembers telling Bryan to take it easy. ‘It weirded me out,’ Brady says.”
Similarly: “Mia Brown . . . remembers Bryan as a guy who ‘always ranted about how he hates cops’ and who tried to talk an enlisted friend of hers . . . into stealing weapons from Fort Lewis.”