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CSPD acquires urban assault vehicle. What line have activist informants been feeding them?

COLO. SPRINGS- This image just in from a reconnoiter of the downtown police garage. The CSPD has mobilized an urban assault vehicle, for, I don’t know what, keeping up with the Jones’s? Ever since Springs police decided that the Pikes Peak Justice & Peace Commission held gravitational pull over all political dissent in El Paso County, the CSPD holds weekly briefings with a PPJPC staffer, and of late they’ve added morning tete-a-tetes with an OCCUPY delegate from Acacia Park. What are those “representatives” telling them? That law enforcement needs bigger ammo? Would now be the time to suggest we call organizers who grease the mechanisms of oppression, however ill-conceived their intention, by a more appropriate term, RATS?

I can understand neighbors with differing opinions about whether cops need more helicopters, or K-9 intimidation duos, but how ever does the ordinary citizen rationalize that their police department needs riot equipment? To protect us from ourselves? We found out a couple years ago that the CSPD has a busload of their own people-suppression gear. Now we have an armored personnel carrier for cops? Because they can’t drag defenseless nonviolent protesters across the pavement without mechanization? The Acacia Park protesters have been happy to seek permits to set up their literature canopies and have organized community service cleanup actions to put a shine on their model compliance, meanwhile the police are arming up…

EPILOG:
Is this a political cheap shot? Yes. It’s trash talk. No argument. Why and when Colorado Springs took delivery of an armored vehicle is entirely conjecture. Maybe it’s the usual cost-plus profiteering scheme. That’s not really the point. The point is, what intelligence is CSPD getting from their de facto adversaries?

The sight of a new armored vehicle to use against civilians should be a major embarrassment to someone who considers themselves tasked with offering assurances to the city that all local protest will be inoffensive and dismissible.

The CSPD needs armor WHY? Not even crime here has ever escalated to a level which would require an armored assault by the police.

I was content to leave it at that, but oh well, some people need it explained.

It is not conceivable that anything public citizen advisers might have whispered at regular meetups would have prompted the CSPD to armor up. But what are the collaborators conferring with police about? We know the why, for a seat at the table, so what goals are they selling out?

It would be false praise to suggest the PPJPC had a role in bringing the armored UAV to town. But the PPJPC cannot escape responsibility for eroding the role and breadth of activism in this city. In particular for playing informant to the CSPD, for being the conduit of intimidation which the police want to push the other way, and for employing an executive director who has a personal resolve against confrontational activism. You won’t see him at protests, organizing protests, or promoting protests. You’ll see him keeping his meetings with other respectable nonprofit heads, and his appointments with the CSPD, and fielding their calls when they catch wind of other dissenters. No surprise that a once energetic PPJPC is now but a social justice knitting circle of communion takers.

Of course it’s worse, because Colorado Springs social circles are small enough that the CSPD only needs one snitch. Not that any illegal activities have been planned, certainly no violence, but the CSPD wants to keep tabs, and the PPJPC is happy enough to believe that if you have nothing to hide, then keeping city authorities informed shouldn’t threaten you.

For those who need this spelled out: civil disobedience is by definition illegal, and benefits incalculably from putting authorities on the spot. Giving them your game plan in exchange for not upsetting the apple cart does not favor those who are protesting the apple cart.

So what is whispered in these regular meetings with the police? Let’s imagine only the most innocent possibilities. Who’s new to town, who’s jumping on this national campaign, who’s retreating from the fallout from that recent action, what’s the scuttlebutt, what’s to these rumors, and what are CSPD’s concerns. It makes me nearly sick to think about. The relationship must be as with a lobbyist. The collaborator is enjoined to take responsibility for keeping the peace. Any surprises and it’s their rapport that suffers. Police embarrassed on the street? No cookie for you.

Occupy Colorado Springs organizers have fallen for the same bait, a quasi permitted stay in Acacia Park in exchange for daily updates with the police. A special relationship is how I believe it’s being billed. You’d probably call it a morning coffee with your boss, with info flowing his way, instructions coming yours.

If you are hoping to reform the system, thinking you have allies among the blimp-necks sworn to uphold it TO THE LETTER is probably wrongheaded.

The ugly arrangement at the PPJPC didn’t begin with Executive Director Steve Saint. The PPJPC sat down in 2003 after an antiwar rally was teargassed, to hash out a code of conduct agreement with the CSPD. Membership balked at such a prospect and the project was abandoned, but left the city with a paper trail with which to claim it believed it had cemented a deal and would consider further trouble to be a breach of the agreement. This came to light after the St Patrick’s Day Parade fiasco of 2007. An event which provoked the larges upsurge in participation in the PPJPC but rapidly dropped off with its failure to capitalize on the visibility.

I know a little about that because I was chairman in that aftermath, fighting an insubordinate staff who only slowly revealed their ulterior motives and stacked the board against me. The rationale? Public protests hurt alliances with other non profits. Being anti-military preempted cooperation with almost all the other social causes in an army town.

It’s of course a long story, but in the end you’ve got a career staff member determined to jettison antiwar efforts for the comfort of taking on the environment, poverty, and whatever causes get a Democratic president elected. Steve Saint very visibly put his name to the letter which invited Van Jones to come speak at Colorado College. Van Jones is as corporate a messenger as Barack Obama, with the same empty promises. This time instead of Hope, he’s selling Green. And it’s just as easy a sugar pill to swallow.

Did you know some disgruntled Dems have set about to form a Green Party? Guess who’s put himself at the center of scuttling that effort by neutering any grassroots platform? I take no pleasure in delivering this punch line.

Of course more than anything the antiwar movement suffered with Obama’s election. Now the hopeful are disillusioned and cynical, and who is the little PPJPC to revive that crowd? But the PPJPC backed Obama, stood in line to see him while their dissenters embarrassed them by protesting outside. Dissenters who ultimately had the police called on them for trying to have a meeting in front of the PPJPC office.

The PPJPC is fully co-opted, fine, but that the organization plays the role of informant to the police is untenable. A historically, unequivocally, uninterruptedly nonviolent activist community provides no grounds for the city police to escalate their crowd-control technologies, and it certainly doesn’t merit full-time paid informants trying to snitch on them.

7 thoughts on “CSPD acquires urban assault vehicle. What line have activist informants been feeding them?

  1. Whoever else can or can not be trusted, the Police should never be given the benefit of the doubt. It’s not like they’re peaceful agents of All That Is Good And Noble.. There’s been far too much history of them being owned and operated by the 1%.

    Especially recent history. Maybe I judge cops really quickly as one being just like another. Comes from having the boots and batons bouncing off my handcuffed body and there’s no way I can conceive of apologizing for the trained reflex of judging one to be the same as any other.

    It doesn’t inspire confidence in the system when you’ve had your nose rubbed in the cracks of the system. The cops are going to have to do better than talk. Especially when they’re bringing in an urban tank.

  2. I don’t believe that the PPJPC is to blame for that assault vehicle, despite the fact I am not a fan of the PPJPC, I think the picture should raise the question as to why police departments are being militarized

  3. Absolutely, Brother Jonah. But “playing dumb”, Eric? That’s just trash talk. I am not interested in continuing this dialog any longer.

  4. Loring Wirbel that’s the best comeback PPJPC has to offer, really? You run from debate if tea & crumpets aren’t served on silver trays? Try refuting the substance of EV’s piece instead of swooning with a case of the vapors at ((gasp))) rudeness.

    As an organizer of 2003 “SCCAWI” protests where CS was one of only 2 cities worldwide subjected to a tear gassing police riot that day prior to Shock+Awe, I recall PPJPC’s activism-phobia in the face of a local renegade cops, while venerating your pacifist community image above actual principle. Tip: the J&P in your title doesn’t get served up by a benevolent sky-god with tea & crumpets to pleasant meeting attendees at the CSPD lounge, it’s earned by protest movements in the streets, like OWS.

    No J, no P, LW.

    p.s. don’t call me ‘brother’ and I won’t call PPJPC ‘rat’.

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