Activists speak out on police infiltration.

On June 26, 2010, while the G20 summit was under way amid mass protests on the streets of downtown Toronto, a startling revelation was made that would reverberate through activist communities for months to come. Two undercover police officers had joined protest groups and been living among activists as part of a large-scale investigation that began more than a year earlier, in April 2009.

Following the arrest of four activists that same morning under charges of conspiracy, the Toronto Star reported that “Undercover officers infiltrated criminal extremist groups in Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo and Toronto and forged relationships with several people whose ideological beliefs and backgrounds pose a direct threat to large-scale public events, including the G20,” according to allegations by Crown attorneys.

The case is now under a court-imposed publication ban, which prohibits disclosure of the undercover agents’ identities. While only two officers have been officially acknowledged, documents recently released to Briarpatch support suspicions among activists that infiltration was in fact much more extensive.

Although the names of the two confirmed infiltrators are not yet public, many activists are convinced they know who the officers are.

“One of my former friends disappeared, and it became very obvious to us that she was a police officer,” says Joshua Gilbert, a house painter involved with anarchist organizing in Guelph, Ontario. He describes her as a “motherly type character” who was more interested in being an emotional support than in political organizing. “We became friends with her for a year and a half, and a lot of us became close. I cried on her shoulder and had lots of close conversations with her before realizing that her job was to manipulate people into giving information, and to create social profiles on us.”

“It was really upsetting and infuriating, and I remember feeling isolated and not able to trust people,” recalls Gilbert. “That is part of the point of infiltration … creating this sort of fear and paralysis.”

This article was first published in the Briarpatch Magazine. Read full article

Tim Groves is a Toronto-based investigative journalist and researcher.