APEC “security theatre” a joke, literally

Photograph of The Chaser team being arrested

Now here’s a surprise. Not. The massive security operation surrounding APEC brings us yet another example of security theatre — pointless activity that’s all for show but which does nothing to actually enhance security.

The police busy themselves by (mostly politely) hassling tourists and photographers, deleting images of The Fence because “protesters might be doing reconnaissance for weak spots.” Uhuh. But The Chaser crew get within metres of George W’s hotel by playing dress-ups and driving big black cars.

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The Great Wall of Sydney

The Great Wall of Sydney by Trinn Suwannapha

’Pong has started photographing The Great Wall of Sydney which descended with the start of APEC — naturally bringing his own “urban abstract” eye to the game.

Police have been deleting photos from cameras, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens when ’Pong returns to The APEC Zone tonight now that GWB has arrived.

When I phoned the police media liaison unit today, I didn’t get a very clear message about what was and wasn’t permitted. It all seems to be at the discretion of the officer on the ground. To me that just says “arbitrary” and “unaccountable” — and combining that with arrest-without-charge and the suspension of habeas corpus spells “danger”.

Anyway, check ’Pong’s images — and don’t forget to click through for the full-sized beauty.

Is this police provocation?

Here’s a fascinating video from Canada, which seems to show police provocateurs trying to turn a peaceful demonstration violent.

This was shot on Monday afternoon at protests in Montebello, Quebec. It shows the tail end of a confrontation between Dave Coles (president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada) and three masked men who were trying to throw rocks into the police line.

In the commentary, there’s evidence to support the provocateur theory.

  • When accused of being police, the masked men just look confused rather than denying it.
  • Standard police procedure is that once a suspect is cuffed, a mask would be removed so everyone can see their face and reliably witness subsequent events. At least one “protester” stays masked all the way to the police vans.
  • The takedown seems remarkably relaxed, given that these guys pushed into a line of riot police.
  • At 2.45, immediately after they start arresting the “protesters”, the police cameraman shuts his camera off.
  • One of the three is wearing a t-shirt for Radio X — a right-wing Quebecois shock-jock channel. No lefty unionist would be caught dead in one of those, you’d think.

Montobello photo

And this photo (left) of the takedown is interesting. Note that the “protester” is wearing boots with exactly the same tread pattern as the riot police.

There’s more on this story at the Toronto Star. Thank BoingBoing for the pointer.

It’d be interesting to ask NSW police whether they’ve ever used provocateurs in this way — particularly with APEC in Sydney very soon.