Anonymous vs PERF

Anonymous vs PERF
by Sue Basko

(November 2011) A few days ago, it came to light that PERF, Police Executive Research Forum, an organization in Washington, D.C., held several conferences calls of 40+ mayors or police chiefs from major cities nationwide, talking about their experiences with the Occupy protests.  This was interpreted by many to mean that PERF had coordinated the raids on the encampments.  Anonymous, the hacktivist group, has pledged to take remedial action against PERF.

 PERF denies coordinating the raids, saying it only held conference calls and that in fact, its publications urge a "best practices" method of nonviolent reaction to nonviolent protest.  Yesterday, I tried to download the PERF report  on crowd management, but found I would need to be a member, which involved paying $160 or $300 and having a Bachelors Degree and a job in upper-level police management.    Today, PERF is BEGGING people  to download their report.

Okay, so having read the report -- I have to say -- if followed, it is a good model for police to follow on crowd control.

To me, it sounds like the police that did the most abusive things in the Occupy raids were those from the most unprofessional groups.   For example, in the raids on Occupy Oakland, the Oakland Police Department has said that it was not their officers that did the damage, and that their officers do not even have such weapons.   I have read the  Oakland Police Department Crowd Control policy (download here) and this seems to be the case.  Other smaller police departments were brought in to help.

 I asked a friend of mine  who is a long-time law professor in Civil Rights with much police experience if the other agencies coming in to Oakland would be allowed to bring in weapons not used or allowed by the Oakland Police Department, and he said that police will never take a weapon from another police officer.    This seems really odd to me when we are talking about police hurling and shooting projectiles at people many feet away, people who posed no imminent danger to anyone. 

The situation at UC Davis involves several officers, including John Pike, who is now infamous on the internet, and deservedly so.  Pike is seen on many online videos shooting pepper spray at seated students.  He sprays them as if they are cockroaches.  Rumor has it that Pike is actually some sort of library security guard.  If so, he clearly did not belong in a field position.  He reminds me of security guards I used to see at a shopping mall  at Hollywood and Western in Los Angeles -- brutish people given a tiny bit of authority and using it to attack citizens.

The abuse at UC Berkeley seems different. From the videos, it looks to me as if the police had a coordinated plan in place to attack the girls and women, perhaps thinking this would cause the young men to fight the police, thus giving the police reason to attack the young men and arrest them.  The young men did not fight back, but bravely did their best to protect the females, without raising hands to the police.  This sort of technique of attacking the weakest targets, is common among thugs.  It is also considered a form of torture to attack people in front of others whose duty and inclination is to protect the innocent victims, but who cannot due to the power differential with attackers -- in this case, the attackers being the police.

This is all food for thought.  MY OPINION: The better trained and educated a police force is, the less violent they are.  To me, it looks like PERF is an educator on the right track.

Now - as to whether raids were coordinated during those phone calls -- that's a good question.  A "conference call" with that many participants seems impracticable.  I wonder what was actually the content and format.   I have a feeling we will be finding this out in the coming months.