Assume you are under surveillance
if you are involved in organizing mass direct action or anything illegal,
and take precautions. Don't discuss sensitive matters on the telephone,
through the mail, by email, or in your home, car or political office/center.
Don't talk about anything illegal, even if you are just "joking."
Keep written materials and lists of individuals secure and never bring
address books to protests where arrest is possible - if you're arrested,
the police may investigate all your friends.
Never discuss illegal activity
It is never okay to:
- ask about someone else's illegal
- discuss your involvement or someone
else's involvement with an underground group;
- discuss someone else's desire
to get involved with such a group;
- talk about your participation
or someone else's participation in any action that was illegal;
- talk about someone else's advocacy
for such actions or discuss your plans or someone else's plans for a
The only time it's okay to speak
about illegal actions is when you are planning them with the small group
of trusted people who will be doing the action with you.
Adopt a Security Culture
Activists organizing mass protests,
direct action or anything illegal should make it as difficult as possible
for police agencies by adopting a security culture. Activists who are
part of a security culture know behaviors that compromise security and
quickly educate anyone who acts in a way that violates or threatens security.
When all members of a group understand security and correct mistakes,
unsecure behavior becomes unacceptable and will stop. This frustrates
police surveillance and infiltrators because they can't obtain information
or plant it.
People in the scene who gossip,
brag or ask for unnecessary information about underground groups or illegal
activities are a severe danger to the movement. The first time this happens,
take such a person aside and gently educate them in private about why
such talk is a danger. Be careful not to preach, injure the individual's
pride, or raise defenses and prevent them from absorbing the advise. If
an individual repeatedly engages in gossip, bragging and/or seeking unnecessary
information about inappropriate topics after repeated educational talks,
the person should be removed from any position of trust in movement by
being kicked out of meetings, organizations, base camps, etc. Such a person
is a grave risk at best, and a police agent looking to provoke or entrap
others at worst.
Infiltrators attempt to get information
about organizations, disrupt them by creating splits and disorganization
in meetings and in individual's lives, and entrap activists by urging
insecure illegal activity. They often disrupt groups, ironically, by promoting
destructive witch hunts for infiltrators! Carefully check out the authenticity
of any disturbing letter, rumor, phone call etc. before acting on it.
Ask the supposed source if she or he is responsible. Don't try to expose
a suspected agent or informer without solid proof. It generally works
better to criticize what a disruptive person says and does without speculating
as to why. Avoid entrapment by only doing illegal direct action with people
you know well and trust. Avoid government-sponsored splits in movement
groups by dealing openly and honestly with differences within our movements
in race, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc. before the FBI can exploit
[From "Security Culture",
Slingshot Issue #72,
with modifications by the editor.]