Fake Profiles Used for Spying, Cyberstalking, Crowdturfing, Site-fluffing

 Fake Profiles Used for Spying, Cyberstalking, Crowdturfing, Site-fluffing
by Sue Basko

Fake profiles have long been used for things such as spying on ex-friends and voting for a favorite band. Now fake profiles have stepped up to doing real work for real pay for the masters who control them.  I was recently cyberstalked by a person/entity using a mob of fake profiles, so I can give some insight into what they do.

A recent paper by researchers out of University of California Santa Barbara describes astroturfing as such:  “Astroturfing refers to information dissemination campaigns that are sponsored by an organization, but are obfuscated so as to appear like spontaneous, decentralized “grassroots” movements. Astroturfing campaigns often involve spreading legally grey, or even illegal, content, such as defamatory rumors, false advertising, or suspect political messages. Although astroturfing predates the Internet, the ability to quickly mobilize large groups via crowd-sourcing systems has drastically increased the power of astroturfing.”  The UCSB group coined the word crowdturfing for when a crowd of fake profiles is used to start rumors, give positive or negative reviews or comments, or to gather real people as followers for a point of view. 

The HBGary Federal group was reportedly using fake profiles to discredit people who opposed a Republican business organization.  In turn, Anonymous hacktivists cracked open the list of subscribers to HBGary publications.  

Fake profiles have been rampant online with the Occupy movement, where so much organizing has taken place on facebook.  There were many fake profiles that were obvious, at least obvious to me, as agents provocateurs, probably government agents exhorting violence, to see if they could catch any in agreement.  Generally, people just ignored these, because Occupy was and is about nonviolent protest.

It became confusing to sort out who was who because there were also the usual armchair anarchist trolls, some who come complete with their own small army of fake profile friends who agree with every word they say.  A lot of this was obvious, because the friends would only appear at the same time and place as the main troll.  Since I am a lawyer and was providing legal information to many Occupy groups on how to conduct peaceful, legal protest, I found myself being harassed quite a few times by the pseudo-anarchist trolls and their fake best friends.   They would agitate for violence, but for the most part, no one was interested.

The profiles that were obviously law enforcement agents provocateurs never bothered me, because they were / are there for the basically legitimate purpose of seeing if any mass destruction was/is planned.

The law enforcement agents post the same types of hooks over and over.  They post that there are no limits to the First Amendment and no permits needed.  They outright propose specific violent actions.  Most people have learned to ignore them and not even reply.  The law enforcement agents simply move on to other pages and post trying to locate sympathizers there.     

Then there are the fake profiles that put in friend requests on facebook.  The fake profile friends come to spy on your facebook page.  According to reports, Aaron Barr at HBGary was busy making pretty girl fake profiles.  At one point during the height of the Occupy camps, a bunch of pretty girl profiles invaded.  One activist man shouted on his facebook in all caps: ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS ARE FAKE PROFILES!  It was true.  Men were readily confirming them as friends.  Others were accepting the pretty girls because they were already “friends” with people they knew.  I got a few of these requests, but rejected them.  I think the male equivalent is the profile that is some version of the Anonymous mask.  Of course, a lot of these are real people, but it is also a convenient fake profile. 

Site-Fluffing is yet another use of fake profiles.  That’s when a new site creates fake profiles to make it look as though the site is popular.  I wrote a review of a site that looks good, but is very bad news.   I was contacted by a person who credibly claims to have made up to 500 fake profiles per day for the site.  That’s fraud on any would-be investors or purchasers.  It’s also fraud on would-be users or users of the site.  A lot of those profiles were obvious fakes.     

The U.S. government is obviously using fake profiles.  A man named Sean Kerrigan has posted a 2010 listing off FedBizOpps.gov that you have to read to believe.   The government has procured software that creates and manages realistic fake personas, “replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent.”:  

0001- Online Persona Management Service. 50 User Licenses, 10 Personas per
Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background , history,
supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and
geographically consistent. Individual applications will enable an operator to
exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and
without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. Personas must be
able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through
conventional online services and social media platforms. The service includes a
user friendly application environment to maximize the user's situational
awareness by displaying real-time local information.

Then to make those personas seem real, they need an IP address for each persona.  “Individuals can perform static impersonations, which allow them to look like the same person over time.  Also allows organizations that frequent same site/service often to easily switch IP addresses to look like ordinary users..”:

0003- Static IP Address Management. 50 each
License protects the identity of government agencies and enterprise
organizations. Enables organizations to manage their persistent online personas
by assigning static IP addresses to each persona. Individuals can perform
static impersonations, which allow them to look like the same person over time.
Also allows organizations that frequent same site/service often to easily switch IP
addresses to look like ordinary users as opposed to one organization.
Economizer IP Mapped License or equal

Then they need new IP addresses each day for “excellent cover and powerful deniability”:

0002- Secure Virtual Private Network (VPN). 1 each
VPN provides the ability for users to daily and automatically obtain randomly
IP addresses through which they can access the internet. The daily rotation of
the user s IP address prevents compromise during observation of likely or
targeted web sites or services, while hiding the existence of the operation. In
addition, may provide traffic mixing, blending the user s traffic with traffic from
multitudes of users from outside the organization. This traffic blending provides
excellent cover and powerful deniability. Economizer Enterprise Chameleon or

Now – to the story of how I got cybermobbed by a professional, or at least serial cyberstalker, and a mob of fake profiles, and possibly a few real profiles.   I admit I am a target – I have openly provided information to help Occupy protesters know their rights under the law.  I also started and help run a blog written by a man in prison who has autism.  I am a target – and I want to state that I do not think the Cyberstalker gang that went after me is government-related.     The government has no reason to stalk me, since I provide a valuable service to all sides, explaining the law so protesters can follow it.  And the mob of fake profiles that stalked me was obviously fake.  The profiles’ posts were obviously being written by one person, they all showed up together at the same times and places.  There were other telltale signs I won’t share.  

First, I noticed that someone had likely hacked into my Facebook profile, because security settings started to change.  I wasn’t sure, because Facebook sometimes does change settings on its own.  Then, I got a ludicrous private message on Facebook, sent by an obviously fake profile.  I posted making fun of the ludicrous message and the ridiculously fake profile that sent it.  All of a sudden, a different profile pops up on my page, posting inane, nasty messages saying that I did not respond correctly to the private message.  How did “she” even know what the message said or my response to it, if it was not one of her fake profiles?  So I deleted these things and blocked both profiles.  And --- that began the circus.  The whole circus was obviously orchestrated by one person who controls a group of fake facebook profiles with twitter accounts and several blogs, using them to terrorize victims. 

The main leader of the rampage may or may not be a fake persona.  I came across a real man who says he was stalked by the same person for 6 years –and he wrote about this a year before I was also stalked. I remember how he was stalked, because, about 6 years ago, I received some nasty chain emails defaming him.  He is convinced the main Cyberstalker persona that attacked us both is a real person.  I am not convinced, because it would be hard to find a real person who is so totally insane and yet has such good computer skills.  But the ranting insanity seems to be part of the persona that catches people off guard.  The persona used a photo of an older woman who looks like Porky Pig wearing a Dutch Boy haircut and some sort of sailor hat.  When this thing popped up on my facebook page writing nasty posts, I had to laugh first.  (Please tell me that is a fake photo!) 

Then it got nastier.  This person, who had already hacked my facebook, stole my photos, copied conversations, and began posting things on her own blogs that are run under her own name as well as a few other names.  Then there were twitter attacks.  She was attaching my name to her words and linking it up to her blog.  And she had her fake army of fake profile personas also attacking.  By that time, she had a few real people in on it – though it was hard to tell which ones were real or fake, since it is hard to believe any real people would actually engage in such actions.      

I did what I was told by authorities to do – delete and block, delete and block.  Her fake profiles were swarming all over my accounts online, all sounding suspiciously alike.  There were a few that seemed like real profiles.  As I stated that I had a complaint in to the authorities, the main stalker began to delete some posts.  It is hard to tell which elements of the attack will be retrievable – or how hard the authorities will go to uncover the elements that have been deleted.  If it could all be laid out and seen, it would show a massive online attack obviously controlled and created by one central source. 

The methods of the cyberstalker are to invade, intrude, create, spread rumor.  For the most part, only the most gullible, unthinking people would fall for this sort of thing, and only the nastiest have a will to participate in it.  The idea is to create a mob of only the most vicious, gullible people who do not check their sources and do not think on their own.  It works!  And with such people involved, lives and safety truly are endangered.  The idea is to rile up the crazies – and lead them in an online lynch mob.   This is the agent provocateur online – and it works. 

What You Can Do:  If you want to understand crowdturfing, read the UCSB Study.  If you see things like this online, avoid participating.   Think about things.   During the Cyberstalk attack against me, one of the fake profiles announced on Twitter that I was a lawyer in control of SOPA, the proposed upcoming internet legislation.  Of course, I have nothing to do with SOPA and have not even gotten around to reading the draft of the law.  But that does not keep a fake profile from tweeting my name and announcing such nonsense.  Any thinking person would realize this, but Cyberstalkers, like the one that attacked me, are interested in getting the least thinking people on their side.  That’s how it works.  The whole point is to gather an irrational mob.  Thinking people don’t participate.           

Oakland Police Department
Crowd Dispersal Policy

Oakland Police Department Crowd Dispersal Policy
by Sue Basko

The Oakland Police Department Crowd Control Policy from 2005 is highly informative information for the public and/or protesters.  Occupy Protesters in Oakland have said police badges were covered.  I personally have seen live video, taken on a tense night at Occupy Oakland, of  projectiles being aimed and shot from the police line at people who were doing nothing.  There is also the situation where Scott Olsen was injured by a projectile, possibly a "flashbang," being thrown at his head, reportedly from the police line.  That was followed by a police officer shooting what appear to be exploding projectiles of some sort at people assisting Olsen. 

Please download and read the report and see what you think.  It is possible the policies have been updated since 2005.  I doubt they could have been updated so much as to allow what has happened.   This report should be very educational for protesters, helping you see yourself as  the police see you.   

 CLICK TO open/ download

Agents Provocateurs:
What and Who They Are

What and Who They Are
I write this from my many years of experience in protest involvement, as an organizer, a participant, as one of the first media activists, and as a lawyer.  I have helped a couple people who have been victimized by agents provocateurs – that is, goaded into activity they would not normally do and arrested for it.   

I also know of  a man who spent 6 months in prison awaiting being charged under the Homeland Security Patriot Act.  He is a white guy in his 20s who went to his first protest demonstration to drive a friend there --   and followed along when things got “out of hand.”  What did he actually do?  He wrote with spray paint on a government vehicle, an SUV.  All the protest “leaders” scrambled for safety and he was left alone, being arrested.  When it comes under Homeland Security (which a lot of acts do), the Patriot Act kicks into action and your normal civil rights do not apply.  Normally, a person can only sit in jail for about 2-3 days and then they either have to charge you with a crime or let you go.  Under the Patriot Act, that is not true.  They can hold you for a long time and never charge you.  There’s a lot of the other basic rules that get ignored.  I write this because you should think very carefully before you act.  You may think of your action as very minor, but it may not be viewed that way by others.  

There are going to be people that do not like what I am writing.  I am telling it like it is, really.

“AGENTS PROVOCATEURS” is the French term for people that come into a protest group and try to get you to do illegal or dangerous things, preferably to get you arrested or to set you up over time.


 I think Agents provocateurs can be broken into 2 CATEGORIES:
1)  Real agents provocateurs, and 
2) undercover police, FBI, NSA, and Homeland Security.

1) Real Agents Provocateurs -  “Revolutionaries  or “Terrorists”  -  Some people actually belong to a supposed revolutionary or terrorist group.   These groups are real.  The FBI and NSA keep lists of them.  The vast majority of these groups are just a bunch of hot air and usually boring as all get-out, self-important, and often, from my observation, with main members who are on SSI for some mental disability that involves paranoia.  So while they have no job, they have plenty of time to be a “revolutionary” and talk big.  Others are professors or part-time professors with secure jobs.  Others work for non-profits.  Others are retired.  What I am saying is that most of them are not risking much by getting you to do something stupid. 

These folks want “action” – and they mostly want YOU to do the action.  They will lie to you and tell you what you are doing is okay, that it is legal, that nothing will happen, that it is good to get arrested, that it is “civil disobedience,” that you dare  not challenge them or argue with it.   (“Civil disobedience” is something else and is covered a little bit in the Note just below this post.)   

These people are manipulative.  They will challenge you and play an “ism” card to make it so you are supposed to be ashamed to stop them – they will say you are racist, sexist, against people with disabilities, against immigrants, ageist, elitist, or whatever. They will claim they have to do illegal acts because of the system, the man, police brutality, poverty, war, the cause, or something – demands it.  None of this is true.  No one gets to use their “status” as a “victim” to victimize you and wreck your life.

GUESS WHAT?  Once you get arrested, your “comrades” will NOT be there with bail money, a lawyer, to support you and your family since you will be out of a job, to get you into school despite a felony, etc.  In fact, they will use you to try to show the system is corrupt, the police are brutal, and on and on.  You will be a  pawn in their game. 

KEEP IN MIND: No responsible person with a job or family or going to school runs around doing violent or goofball things to get arrested.  Just does not happen. 

HOW TO GET RID OF THEM:  Demand that everyone follow the law.  DO NOT let them define “peace” as including “violence.”  Demand peace, non-violence and only legal activity.  End of story -- Only legal behavior as defined in the law, not in their imaginations.   
THEY WILL ARGUE:  “Everything Hitler did was legal,” etc – which is not true, but that is besides the point.  They will try to draw analogies to our society.  The U.S. is by no means perfect, but our laws are pretty darn good.  And also, as a society, we are pretty darn good.  We care about each other and help each other.  The U.S. is a good country and we aim to improve it, not destroy it.

They will argue that you are “co-opting the system,” "colluding with the authorities,” and on and on.  SAY:  You’re right.  I am.  I plan to go to college and have a family and I want a nice life with good things in it, not a felony record.  Thank you.  I am trying to improve things to make all that even better.

WHY THEY DO THIS:  Some people think that the way to build up interest in a protest or the way to build a movement is by having arrests, violence, injury, and destruction.   No doubt, this does cause interest and does cause more people to show up.   On the other side of this is that when protests become dangerous, the most productive and logical people are likely to stay away.   You may have a bigger crowd, but they may be more of an irrational mob.   Also, people that condone violence and destruction as a means to their ends are not likely to have equitable ends in mind.  Their style shows their substance.  

2) UNDERCOVER POLICE, FBI, NSA, HOMELAND SECURITY.  Wake up, folks! Almost every big domestic “terror” arrest has been a set-up by an FBI agent or someone working part-time for them.  HOW UNDERCOVER AGENTS WORK:

THEY JOIN YOUR GROUP.  They often take leadership roles.  They might be the friendliest people there.  They might have "good friends" in the group, but if you ask the good friends how long they have actually known the person and in what context, you are likely to find it is not very long and they only know the person from the group.   Undercover agents do not allow anyone to question them - they might toss the question back to you. They control the flow of information and try to block out those that question them.  

In fact, they work almost exactly like the people listed above  -- except instead of being goofs trying to draw you into some violent act and get you arrested so they can feel they are part of exciting action and have something to talk about (for years to come) – these folks will set you up for a huge arrest.  Supposedly, they are hunting out terrorists.  In many cases, it appears as if the agents did most of the talking, most of the planning, and the "stooge" just kind of went along for the ride. 

HOW IT WORKS EXACTLY:  They casually feel out a whole group, to see who are the vulnerable targets.


1) They act the troll on message boards and facebook, to see who is and who is not open to violent action.  If they propose some stupid action and you do not object outright, you are a target.

2) They organize actions and when you are out, lead you to do stupid things, such as throwing things, going onto bridges or overpasses, blocking cars, shouting.  AND  - If you fall for it, you are their mark for a bigger set-up.

3) They invite you to classes where they draw you in to ideas and plans that involve violence.

4) They contact you privately to tell you of their dissatisfaction, and it builds over time.  They might get you to agree to help them in some act, or get you to start to carry it out.  The whole time, your conversations are recorded, the emails are kept, there might even be video.  These kinds of stings can start and if you seem ripe for it, they will go on for months to years until there is enough evidence to call you a “terrorist” and indict you.    

They may be doing 95% of the talking and planning, but if you say "Okay sure, I guess so," you are agreeing, you are in a "conspiracy," and you are in on whatever plan has been proposed.

5) They will incite you  to chaos, disorder and / or violence and then you will be arrested!  Yes, YOU! Or you can even be arrested on the basis of "the plan," even if it is not really your plan and even if you would never actually follow through and do it.   You need to be very careful of the company that you keep.  You need to be very careful what you agree to.

DO NOT FALL FOR ANY OF THIS.   If you ever encounter any person who is proposing things that you do not agree with, say no clearly and quickly.  Even if a person is persistent, you are best to block off all communication.  In some ethnic or culture groups, there can be a strong tendency to trust others from the same group.  There can also be a strong tendency not to want to be rude.  It is very important to be rude and to say no if someone starts proposing bad plans, even if you think the person might be joking or not serious on following through.

Also, if someone comes to you with a plan or request to harm someone else, you should report this to the police quickly, so that you are not involved in the plan.  This can be someone looking to shoot someone, someone wanting to buy bomb-making materials, someone planning a break-in or kidnapping, someone planning to bring weapons to school or a job.  You should never feel locked into a promise of silence, even if you have promised that.
 Note: I wrote this a while back.  Rereading it, I realize that it takes a strong, clear head to be involved in protest activity and not get sucked into the many mind games played by people there.  The main way is to only do things that are legal and safe and that do not possibly harm any other person.  That may seem like an innocuous statement, but I get many people arguing with it.   This blog post is not really meant for them; it is meant for people who want to steer clear of trouble.

Civil Disobedience: Some people talk about “civil disobedience" as if it is something that might happen at an everyday typical protest march.  Civil Disobedience is about refusing to obey an unjust law or rule. Today, many people mistakenly call it "civil disobedience" when they are breaking laws that are just and for the good of all, such as laws that tell us not to stand in traffic or laws that say a park closes at a certain time.  That is a protest technique that involves breaking the law, but it is not civil disobedience. True civil disobedience is where the law is fundamentally unjust and where by breaking it, the person accomplishes a greater good.  For example, if a law says you cannot feed the homeless, and if there are homeless hungry people and you feed them, that may be true civil disobedience.    It also may not be true civil disobedience, because the law may be just; there may be free feeding centers and the city may want the homeless fed only at those locations for reasons of food sanitation.

 Civil disobedience or the need for it is extremely rare.   Any time anyone is trying to get you to act like a hooligan as “civil disobedience,” you can be sure that is not someone you want to follow.  A true act of civil disobedience will usually involve serious advance planning,  consulting with lawyers, and will be a carefully orchestrated plan that involves a normal everyday act that is wrongly against the law.  It won’t involve any act of violence or destruction.

 Examples:  Rosa Parks sitting in the front seat on the bus.  People walking teens into segregated schools.  Black men eating at a segregated lunch counter.

"Civil disobedience" does not involve: bombs, weapons, following a person, stopping a person from going anywhere, destruction of property, breaking and entering, looting, being disorderly at a protest, endangering anyone, harassing or terrorizing anyone on the internet, or other such acts. 

Video of man advocating violence at Occupy St. Louis, complete with a tale of New York.  If he was paid to do this, he's not very good at his job.   

Arrested at a Protest:
How to Plan for It

Arrested at a Protest:  How to Plan for It
by Sue Basko

If you intend to get arrested at a protest, you should plan in advance.  There are things you can do to make the process safer and easier for yourself.  This blog post tells you simple steps to prepare.

 It is usually very easy not to get arrested at a protest.  If you don't want to get arrested, follow the instructions in the two posts linked below, and you will greatly lessen any chance of arrest.  In most instances at a protest, you have plenty of time to move away from a situation and  not get arrested.  If you do not want to get arrested and do not want to have people pressuring you to stick around to get arrested, tell the people you are with in advance that you are going to leave or opt out rather than get arrested.  Then, if and when the time comes, do that.


If you are planning to get arrested at a protest, usually you know it is going to happen and have ample warning time.   You will usually be warned to leave or move and you plan well in advance that you are going to refuse to do that.  So you can be prepared in advance.  (That is not always the case with Unlawful Assembly and/or  Kettling.)

1) In advance, leave these things with a trusted friend who you will call when you get arrested, or who will be told by others that you have been arrested:

     a) Enough cash to bail you out.  The typical bond might be anywhere from nothing to a few hundred dollars on a simple municipal ordinance such as trespassing  or illegal camping.  If you already have a charge against you from a previous arrest, it can be significantly more.  If you are accused of  resisting arrest, obstructing justice, or damaging property, the bond can be much more.

* * * * * * * * * * *  

IMPORTANT NOTE: the 2011 Los Angeles County Bail Schedule sets bail for "409 Failure to Disperse from a Riot" at $5,000.  Penal Code Section 409 includes riot, rout, and unlawful assembly.  The law treats each of these differently.  But the LA police did not treat these differently and charged $5,000 bail for failing to disperse from a peaceful, unlawful assembly that was supposedly "unlawful" because camping is not allowed in the park.

Further, MANY of those arrested were attempting to leave but were stopped by police and arrested.  Still others were far away from the camp area and attempting to leave the area, but were lied to by police who told them there would be "escorted from the area," waited peacefully, and then were arrested.  (There are various reports of this and it is also seen and heard clearly on videotape.)

All reports I have read of people  who were arrested at the Occupy L.A. raid tell of many long hours of being intentionally physically tortured by police, such as being forced to kneel for hours, a man forced to lie in his own vomit, many being forced to urinate or defecate in their clothing, being denied water for days, not being fed, etc.
* * * * * * *  * * * * * * * 

     b) all medicines you need.   

     c) Phone numbers for your lawyer, legal services, your family, your job (to call in your absence).

2) Give the phone number of your trusted friend above to others who are with you at the protest, but who do not plan to get arrested.   Instruct them that when you are arrested, they should call your trusted friend.

Phone App: There is also a phone app that you can set off just before you get arrested and it texts everyone you have it preset to inform them you have been arrested.   If it works, that is pretty handy because help and bail money can be on the way before you even arrive at the jail.  That's presuming you have time to set off an app and that your phone does not get lost, smashed or confiscated before it makes the calls.  During some protest arrests, people have their phones for quite a while, say, during a bus ride (wearing zip-ties or handcuffs, but people sometimes manage to text).  During other arrests, the phones are taken very quickly.  If you are using the app, the best bet is to set it off when an arrest is imminent.

3) Memorize the phone number you will call when arrested.  Some people write this number on their skin.  It can be the number of a lawyer who has agreed to help you.  If you call a lawyer, the police cannot listen in to your call. Or you can call the friend who has agreed in advance to contact the lawyer and to come with money to get you out.   Work this out in advance.  If you call the friend, explain beforehand that you are to discuss nothing extra, since the call will be monitored.

Please note that at some recent arrests in Chicago, protesters have reported that the police did not let them make phone calls.   Later when they demanded phone calls, the officers told them they should have made their calls during booking, which was when they were fingerprinted a few hours after being brought in.  Since you may encounter police who want to toy with you or teach you a lesson by keeping you in jail for a while on petty municipal ordinance violations such as being in a park after closing time, keep repeating during every contact, "I want a lawyer.  I want to make a phone call."  Say this even if you are not being given a chance to say it. 
4) Prepare what you wear and what you will have with you.  Wear comfortable clothes that you can take on and off easily.   You will possibly be strip-searched and you should prepare for that.  Dress warmly because if you are allowed to stay in your own clothes in a lock-up, it will be good to be warm because it is likely to be drafty or cold.  Have your hair in an easy-to-manage hairdo with no metal clips.  Do not wear any jewelry at all, other than possibly a cheap plastic watch that you do not mind losing.  Do not wear any rings, earrings, navel ring, or any studs or any other body jewelry.  These can lead to serious injuries during any tussles or skirmishes.   Remove any eye makeup since it will smear and you won't be able to fix it.  Moisturize your face and skin, since you won't have access to anything for a few hours to a few days. Moisturize your wrists very well, since you will be hand-cuffed or zip-tied and this can chafe and  rub your skin raw.   (Many recent arrestees at Occupy LA have said they were kept in zip-ties for over 7 hours, while their hands turned blue.  They say they were left with welts, bruises, numbness, or serious injury to nerves in their hands.)

5) If you need glasses, wear them.  Don't wear contact lenses, because you won't be allowed to have the solution or containers you need for them.  You don't want to risk corneal injury by keeping contacts in your eyes for too long.  Also, you do not want to wear contacts if there might be mace,  tear gas, or pepper spray.   When in custody, your glasses may also be taken from you.  Say that you need them to see.  They may or may not be given to you. 

6) You will be searched.  Keep absolutely everything you have with you inside of one zip-lock bag in your pocket.  Do not have anything else with you.  Everything will be taken from you.  Do not have any weapons, drugs, or odd items with you.  Do not have anything spread out in other pockets, such as candy or keys.  Carry enough cash to get you home once you are released.   Carry only the exact keys you need with you.  Remove the others from the ring and leave those with the trusted friend.  The best bet is to have copies of your keys made, in case you lose the ones you bring with you.

7) Your phone might be searched.  In advance, remove ALL photos from your phone.  Lock all data on your phone.  You can read how to do this on the internet.  Delete all call logs and messages.   Delete  most contacts.  BETTER YET - Buy a cheap prepaid phone that you carry with you just to use when you plan to get arrested.   Leave your "real" phone with your trusted friend.  

8) When you get arrested, they take everything from you.  If you need medicine or a painkiller, carry just enough with you for the next few days.  It is best to have it inside a real prescription container as proof it is what you say it is. It will be taken from you and you may not be able to take it, even if you direly need it. Just before you are arrested, pop your dose so you have the medicine in you and will not need more till your next dose (Ask your doctor about this before doing it).  It is very hard to get needed medicine while in a jail.  If you have taken what you need immediately, this gives you time to work out getting your medicine for your next dose.   Even if you need medicine for a serious condition, it is almost impossible to get it while in custody.  You should say you need it, but chances of you getting it are slim. They might tell you the only way to get it is to go to an emergency room.  You might be shackled and handcuffed to be transported there.

If you have a medical condition where you may die or get very sick if you do not have your medicine, such as diabetes, please avoid being arrested.  Please - strongly consider staying home from risky protests.   In jail, you will most likely not be given your medicine or fed properly.  There is at least one report of an arrested Occupy protester not being allowed to have the insulin he needs for diabetes.

9) Stay well-hydrated and well-fed.  Once you are arrested, it will likely be a long time before you get anything to drink or eat.  When you are given something to eat, it is likely to be something dreadful, such as a bologna sandwich on white bread.  

10) It's a good idea if your group arranges in advance to have someone videotape the protest, including arrests.  They should do so from a distance, preferably from a position above the crowd and not in anyone's way.  In Illinois, it is illegal to record audio on any person that has not agreed.  If you videotape arrests in Illinois, you are not supposed to be recording audio.  This is being challenged in court, but until it is, be aware of this law.  UPDATE May 2013: This Illinois law is still on the books, but is supposedly not being enforced.   It is most likely legal now to record video and audio on police arrests in Illinois. 

11) Do not resist arrest, or you can be charged with resisting arrest.  Resisting arrest includes laying down, dragging along, screaming, etc.  Resisting arrest or obstructing justice or assaulting an officer can be very serious charges.  If you plan to get arrested because you want to make your political point, don't add any of these extra things to it.   Also, if you are resisting arrest, you are likely to be injured.

12) You have to give your name when asked.   Do not lie.  If you do not want to give your name, refuse to give your name and be a "Doe," but do not give a false name.  

13) You have the right to remain silent and you should state immediately that  you are taking that right.  And then - remain silent.  Do not answer questions.  This is the most important thing.  Anything you say can and will be used against you.  Do not talk.  Do not explain.   Do not make excuses.  Do not ask questions.  Do not offer information.   Just keep quiet, except to say you want to make a phone call and you want a lawyer.   

14) Say that you want a lawyer.  Say this immediately and repeat it as needed. 

15) If any sort of agent tries to talk to you, refuse to answer.   Speak with a lawyer.

16) Call the pre-arranged phone number you have with you - it is either for a lawyer or a legal service that has agreed in advance to help you, or it is for your trusted friend who will call the lawyer.  DO NOT WAIT TO BE INVITED TO MAKE A PHONE CALL.  With each contact you have with an officer, state that you want to make a phone call.  A common time to get to make a call is during booking, which is when you are photographed and fingerprinted.  Again, keep in mind, you are not likely to be invited, you must assert your rights.

Collect Calls from Jails. You are supposed to get one free phone call.  After that, you will be making collect calls, charged at a very high rate.  Most cell phones cannot receive a collect phone call, unless there is ample money on the phone's account or another way of it being billed and accepted.  It is common for a minimum collect charge on a call made from jail to be about $20 and then each minute billed after that.  If you make a 10-minute call, it is likely to cost the person receiving the call about $50.  In many jail locations, the phone calls out are run by a privatized company. So be sure your call is made to a land line number and be sure it is to a person who can be billed about $30 - $50 for a short call.  These rates differ throughout the nation, but one constant is that these privatized collect calls are a rip-off.  If you are planning to be arrested, plan in advance who you will call and have them agree in advance that they will answer all phone calls and agree to accept the charges from you.

17) On the typical protest arrest, you can expect to be in custody for an amount of time from several hours to up to 2 days.  You are more likely to get out sooner if you have your plan in place to call a lawyer, have a friend ready to come with money, and do not cause any extra trouble by resisting arrest or having any questionable items with you.  (Please note that most recent arrestees in Los Angeles were held on trumped-up charges with high bail amounts demanded; some spent 5-6 days or more before being released.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have any outstanding warrants on your record, you could  be held for a considerable amount of time and will  meet many complications.  This may include situations where terms of a probation were not completed, situations where you failed to appear on a traffic ticket or citation, or other such things.  Also, if you are on probation or parole, you should not get arrested, because doing so is likely to violate the terms and send you back to jail or prison.

GETTING ARRESTED AT A PROTEST is a huge step and I think you should not intentionally get arrested until and unless you have spoken personally and privately with your own trusted lawyer about this.  Do not be pressured into putting your self at risk until you have considered all factors.  Having an arrest on your record can prevent you from being able to travel out of the country. It can prevent you from being hired for jobs, admitted to schools, or given scholarships.   Being arrested as protest may be worth it to you and it may not be.  This is a personal decision that should be made personally by you in your own best interest.  

18) Have fun!   Remember you are getting arrested because you want to be, and you have planned well in advance.   Enjoy the experience for what it is.    Enjoy experiencing the new and different sights and sounds and smells of the police car or bus and the jail cell or holding place.   Try to remember details so you can write a journal or blog about it later.  

See also:

FBI Infiltrators in Protest Groups

FBI Infiltrators in Protest Groups

The FBI infiltrates protest groups.  They are authorized by the Attorney General to do so to prevent  “federal crimes, threats to the national security,"  and to aid in gathering "foreign intelligence,” three categories that “are not distinct, but rather overlap extensively,” according to the linked report, FBI Domestic Undercover Guidelines.  THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S GUIDELINES FOR DOMESTIC FBI OPERATIONS     In doing so, the FBI is supposed to violate Constitutional protections as little as possible – but given the actual guidelines, it can be noted, nothing is safe from intrusion.   “These Guidelines do not authorize investigating or collecting or maintaining information on United States persons solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment or the lawful exercise of other rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States,” the report states.  Note it says solely.   
Theoretically, at least, the FBI is concerned about – or should be concerned about – people or groups who have destructive plans.  Such destructive plans may include such things as planning to bomb, shoot, or poison people.  Gathering materials, supplies, or weapons to do such things is of definite concern.  Other individuals or groups may be recruiting people to be terrorists or pirates, either in the U.S., or with plans of sending them overseas. 

If you read the news on the internet a lot, as I do, you may have noticed that most “groups” engaging in such acts are not really structured organizations, but rather, loosely-affiliated people who somehow come up with a plan to blow something up.  Often, these are small groups of friends, such as the three men who were involved in 1995 in blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing hundreds, including many small children.  It seems logical that a large protest group with meetings open to the public is not a format where violent acts can be secretly planned.  Nevertheless, such groups almost always are infiltrated by the FBI.  Perhaps the agents are attracted by the potluck dinners.  

When a protest group is peaceful, it feels very offensive to be spied upon.  Groups often do not find out till years or decades later that they were spied upon, and looking back, wonder what about their group could possibly have been of interest to a sophisticated law enforcement agency.

Spying on protest groups and on individuals includes “Undisclosed Participation in Organizations.”  That means, the FBI sends agents as infiltrators to join your group.  These people are often in trusted leadership positions within a group.  I’ll explain in this article how to spot such people.

The FBI also assists local police with “special events management, in relation to public events or other activities whose character may make them attractive targets for terrorist attack.”  When big events include protests, that means the FBI is likely to monitor the protest activities.

The FBI also recruits human sources: “The identification and recruitment of human sources -who may be able to provide or obtain information relating to criminal activities, information relating to terrorism, espionage, or other threats to the national security, or information relating to matters of foreign intelligence interest -is also critical to the effectiveness of the FBI's law enforcement, national security, and intelligence programs, and activities undertaken for this purpose are authorized and encouraged.” 

Human sources are people within groups who are used, either to their knowledge or not, to provide information.  When past FBI activity of spying on protest groups has been uncovered, it has often been found that there have been many such part-time adjunct paid moles within a group.  These are people willing to trade a paycheck for information.  The bad part is that money gives these people incentive to fabricate or embellish.  The FBI usually denies having anything to do with such people.  When records are opened decades later, people look back and say, “Ah-ha, I thought he might be spying on us.”  Often those doing this type of befriend-and-tell are people with alcohol, drug, legal, or mental problems.  These people like the paycheck and the feeling of being special.  Or sometimes, perhaps, their weaknesses are used against them to get them to spill the beans.  Sometimes, the moles are “pillar of the community” types who get convinced they are doing right to spy on their neighbors.

The FBI infiltrator will identify “potential human sources, assess the suitability, credibility, or value of individuals as human sources, validate human sources, or maintain the cover or credibility of human sources, who may be able to provide or obtain information relating to criminal activities in violation of federal law, threats to the national security, or matters of foreign intelligence interest.”  In other words, the FBI helps such people maintain their cover. 

Interpersonal spying is easy in this era of the internet and self-employment.   One mole might have many identities on the internet, using numerous facebooks with different profile photos, different names on emails, etc.  One person can easily adopt multiple personas – men, women, all different races and types.  A typical ruse is to have a very pretty, sexy female profile photo.  Most men will confirm such a friend request.  Once “she” is friends with one person in a group, others will also easily confirm her friend requests.  A few months back, I saw an urgent message from a protest organizer warning others that “All the pretty girls are fake profiles!”  It was true.          

The FBI also spies on protesters using information available on the internet. “The methods authorized in assessments are generally those of relatively low intrusiveness, such as obtaining publicly available information, checking government records, and requesting information from members of the public.”   Today, people organize protests out in the open on the internet.   When there are comment boards, such as on Facebook, there are often people proposing violence – and these are just as likely to be law enforcement infiltrators as they are to be real agents provocateurs or trolls trying to get a rise out of people.  

The FBI also spies on peoples’ emails, phones and internet usage, getting  “grand jury subpoenas for telephone or electronic mail subscriber information.”  To go to a grand jury, there better be probable cause to show a person may be engaged in crime.  

How to Spot Infiltrators.  It is fun to play Spot the Spy.  The FBI uses two types of spies – agents who infiltrate, and human sources, who are non-FBI agents paid or unpaid to report information to the agents.  FBI agents acting as infiltrators are intelligent people with college degrees.  They are personable and speak well.  They are organized.  They are physically fit and can run.  They can shoot a gun.  Such people are good actors, and they can play people from all socioeconomic backgrounds. They are often multi-lingual, though you may not know this unless they slip up.  They are often capable of playing different ethnicities.  For example, a man may actually be Puerto Rican, but he can play being from any Hispanic country.  If he can speak Arabic, he can also play being from any Arab country or from within any Arab-American group.  A woman can do the same.  Multilingual Hispanic, American citizens who can speak Arabic are highly coveted for undercover work.    A Black person skilled in accents and languages can play roles of being from a northern city, from a southern university, or can put on an accent and be from Jamaica, or from France, or from an island.  A 40-ish white person can blend in as a good old boy with the right wing type groups, and then fairly easily slip into mainstream mixed protest groups, and also mix in with Polish or Russian immigrant groups.   Asians have a harder time swapping nationalities, but gain trust within Asian groups or as friendly nerds in mixed social groups. 

Infiltrators are rarely the center of attention.  They wear simple styles of solid-colored clothing that is indistinguishable.  Older agents might have a distinct hat that changes for each group or city.   They are not the silent observers, nor are they the active agitators.  Often, they make broad statements that are supposed to mark them as knowledgeable and unquestionably committed to “the cause.”  There will be no substance to the statement, just a broad, nonspecific statement of support.  They are not there to argue or to push an agenda, they are there to spy and find out your agenda.  

The internet is such a game-changer.   I have watched Occupy streams from different cities, and have seen the same three infiltrators pop up from city to city.  They talk about “revolution” and “building the movement.”  They must be checking in with their moles, then flying to the next city to stand at a GA and talk about building a movement.  Back in the pre-internet days, it was easier to get away with conducting a spy operation this way.  Also, now with cell phones, it is easy for them to have a local phone number wherever they go.  They like whatever food you like.  They want to hear whatever music you want to hear.  The won’t get drunk with you, but they will gladly be present while you get drunk.  Then they will listen to (and record) your careless statements and treat them as well-thought intentions.

The internet can also be used to boost infiltrators’ credibility.  They can have imaginary friends and supporters on comment boards.  They can easily create an online persona (or two or three or twenty).  Creating a simple website gives them a job and a history and makes them “real.”   This is especially true if they use a name that is shared by hundreds of other people  across the U.S., or a name that can easily have multiple ways of spelling it.   

Infiltrators can show up at meetings, at an outdoor event, in a jail cell.  There may be chance encounters where, if you look back later, you may realize an encounter was not chance at all, but had been carefully prearranged and timed.  The person will "just  happen to be” at the mall when you are.  They "just happen" to get arrested and locked into your cell with you for a few hours, or for a few days, though it is likely guards will show up to take them in and out of the cell on “official jail business” of some sort so they don’t have to sit with you the whole time.   They show up at the community festival, where you won’t notice who they are with, if anyone. 

Infiltrators are chameleons; they will become whatever you need.  They are not there to push their own agenda, they are there to find out what yours is.  If you are being “set up” by an agent infiltrator, they will make your slightest suggestion of an agenda become a reality.  If you joke that you would like to blow up a bridge, they will help you order bomb-making materials from their “friend,” and will drive you to scope out the bridge.  Whatever it takes to elicit your plan and make it approach reality, they will be there for you.   They won’t try to dissuade you.  They won’t encourage you, either, they will simply help facilitate whatever you have even slightly verbally uttered.  They are recording you secretly.

Spying on peaceful protest groups, where there is no danger, must be the training ground.  Working with real terrorist recruiters or drug cartels is actually dangerous.   Then, if a spy is supposed to be Arab and suddenly gets a hankering for a burrito or accidentally sings along in Spanish with the car radio, there can be real trouble.   Infiltrators who spy among peaceful protest groups are usually good enough to fool most of the people most of the time.   A lot of people don't really care, since nothing secret is going on.  Others protesters feel very offended and hurt when they find out their "good friend" was a plant.

Human sources are a different bunch altogether.  While a real FBI infiltrator will have discipline and poise, intelligence and physical fitness, a human source may be a smoker, a drinker, unfit, paranoid, a layabout, and annoying, but lovable.   A human source may be a busybody organizer.  A human source may be a quiet friend who is omnipresent, but rarely noticed.  A human source may be the ditzy woman that no one takes seriously.  A human source may be the eccentric crazy lady with the colorful clothes.  In other words, human sources are often the opposite of the disciplined FBI infiltrators for whom they work.

I could tell you some surefire ways on how to test if a person is an infiltrator, but then, everyone would know.   Suffice it to say, there are several foolproof methods.  Try to guess what they are.

All quotes in this article are from the FBI DOMESTIC UNDERCOVER GUIDELINES, which you can download by clicking.

See also:

Occupying L.A. Metro Stations

Occupying L.A. Metro Stations
by Sue Basko

Someone attending an Occupy Los Angeles GA (General Assembly) proposed holding meetings at a Metro Station.  At first I thought, that's ludicrous.  Then, I looked into it some more and it may not be so ludicrous, even though it will be hard to follow the rules.

Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa promised the Occupy LA folks that a certain staircase area of City Hall would always be available as a free speech forum.  Rather than have that be true, the group has been subjected to police interference that inhibits or chills free speech.

I also checked into meeting rooms at public libraries and park districts.  These charge a rental fee and require insurance.  Also, most of these rooms are too small for a GA, which is open to anyone.  So where are large groups supposed to gather, free of charge, for purposes of conducting a free speech meeting?

Holding a GA at the ground level of a Metro Station might be possible, if the station outdoor area is large enough.  Read all the rules carefully and see if the place and activity can meet the rules.  Proper planning is the key.  Bring a measuring tape and the rules and see if you find a station location that meets the distance requirements in Section 6-05-210, which you can see below in the Solicitation section.

Click to download the 

ALL parts of the Metro Code of Conduct apply.  It should be read in full by each person before attending or running any such meeting.  The specific parts that are most applicable to this proposal are these:


6-05-150 Noise.
The following acts are prohibited in Metro facilities and vehicles:
Disturbing others by engaging in boisterous or unruly behavior.30
Creating noise, including unnecessary cell phone or other conversation, that is so loud, lengthy, sexually explicit, threatening, violent, or disruptive, that is causes a nuisance or unreasonably interferes with the use, operation, or enjoyment of the Metro facilities or vehicles for Metro representatives or patrons, or creates an unsafe condition, such as distracting operators of Metro vehicles.30
Playing a sound device, except when using headphones or earphones that make the sound inaudible to others unless a permit has been issued for usage of such sound device by Metro.31


6-05-120 Loitering.
Loitering is prohibited in Metro facilities and vehicles.27
Loitering includes the following:
1. Storing personal property in a Metro facility or vehicle.
2. Camping or sleeping in a Metro facility or vehicle when not riding for a transportation purpose.28
3. Remaining in a Metro facility or vehicle without lawful transportation purpose or refusing to provide identification.29


6-05-210 Solicitation.
A. No person shall solicit money or other things of value in a Metro facility or vehicle.37
B. No person shall solicit public support, or distribute materials, for any cause in Metro vehicles and in underground or non-public areas of Metro facilities where the distribution is disruptive, presents a safety hazard, or impedes the movement of Metro patrons.
C. The exercise of freedom of speech is permitted in Metro facilities and vehicles, subject to the following restrictions:
Activity at a rail station is limited to street level areas and areas which are not platform waiting areas for patrons.
Activity may not occur within fifteen (15) feet of an elevator, escalator, stairwell or staircase entryway, above-ground platform, loading zone, kiosk, transit entrance or exit, emergency exit or telephone, fare vending machine, or fare media readers or validators, or customer service station.
Activity may not impede transit services or the movement of patrons or Metro personnel.
Pamphlets and leaflets may not be left unattended in a Metro facility or vehicle.
The carrying of signs or placards larger than thirty (30") inches by thirty (30") inches, in Metro facilities or vehicles is prohibited. Large signs can be folded or rolled up to comply with the 30" by 30" restriction. No pole, stick, or other similar object or device utilized to display a sign shall exceed a length of thirty inches (30"), nor shall such object exceed a thickness of one-quarter inch (1/4") and a width of two inches (2"); or if not generally rectangular in shape, such object shall not exceed three-quarters inch (3/4") at its thickest dimension. This limitation is not intended to prohibit walking canes, crutches, or similar device used for mobility assistance by a person with a disability. No object shall have an exposed sharp pointed end.
Carrying of any such signs or sticks must not to interfere with the movement, seating, or safety of patrons or Metro personnel.
Food and drinks shall not be distributed in Metro facilities or vehicles except by Metro or persons who obtain a permit from Metro.
8. Tables and portable equipment are prohibited, unless approved by Metro.