When chaos happens, there is an opportunity for seedy elements to shape their territories in ways that make them more amenable to seedy activity in the future — i.e., removing surveillance cameras. We, of course, should do everything we can to prevent these elements from disrupting law and order and infringing on the rights of the public. To do that, we must understand them. The purpose of this article is to explain some of the behaviors of the criminal underground so that civically minded individuals can protect themselves and their communities.
In the course of their activities, the seedy elements may disrupt surveillance systems or otherwise mask themselves to avoid getting caught. This more than often means hiding in plain sight, but in some cases it involves very advanced, but very cheap, technology. For example, it is well known that cell phones are a powerful means of government surveillance. Even the smallest police departments now possess stingrays, devices that simulate cell phone towers to determine the position of a cell phone, or even nearby cell phones. Other technical devices allow police and governments to turn cell phones on, to hijack their recording functionality, etc. To prevent this, the seedy elements do not usually just take the battery out of their phone, since without advanced technical knowledge it is difficult to determine whether or not the phone has foreign devices in it. Instead, they abandon their cell phones and any electronic devices altogether.
They may also take extra precautions by using cell phone jammers to disable the phones of people around them. These devices can be as cheap as $40 and purchased on a variety of online stores. Those with technical knowledge can usually build simple jammers for even cheaper.
To prevent this, good citizens should support community-watch efforts and the installation of CCTV surveillance cameras. Neither of these would be affected by cell phone jammers and will inspire greater bonds between the community.
In some kinds of chaos, like riots, seedy elements do not simply hide in plain sight; they hide in the crowd. Crowds are extremely malleable, and without strong policing and pre-established rules, like those at football games, they can become unlawful rapidly. For example, the simple presence of drums at a protest can build in participants a sense of mission and danger, increasing tension that could catapult even the littlest conflict into a bigger, more widespread one. See, e.g., The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind.
Some political radicals have perfected the manipulation of crowd psychology. For example, black bloc tactics involve crowds of people dressed in similar black clothing and masked in black bandannas. Individuals or small groups of about 2-3 will occasionally leave the larger “bloc,” do some kind of nefarious activity, and then disappear into the larger black mass. This tactic usually works best when there is a larger, non-masked crowd, and tends to make it difficult for police to identify who, precisely, did what at a protest. In many cases elements of these kinds of tactics have been utilized outside of the context of a riot. There is almost no way of preventing this kind of activity without surveilling and identifying common perpetrators beforehand and afterwards, thus the emphasis gangs and radicals place on “security culture” — or practices that make sure you don’t get arrested. To prevent this good citizens should place a primary on preventing radicals from developing a presence in their communities to prevent black bloc anarchists and criminals destroying their property and disrespecting human rights.
In cases of natural disasters, seedy elements sometimes use the violence of nature to mask their own violence. For example, it has now been established that at least some of the California wildfires were caused by arsonists. In some cases, it seems like the arsonists built on already-existing fires to bring them closer to city limits. In other cases it has been common for gangs to use flooding as an opportunity to mask their attacks on enemy gangs by, e.g., plugging important drains and pipes in the enemy gang’s businesses and homes. This is absolutely unacceptable activity, and should be countered by strong police and medical infrastructure during disasters.
Finally, it is important to emphasize that the seedy elements do not always strike the hardest in times of chaos. Most of the time they are merely preparing the way for further activities or even just training themselves. Good citizens should work hard to identify the meaning of various kinds of vandalism and immoral activity so that they can prepare for the extended chaos to come.
- Anti-surveillance activists turn smashing CCTV cameras into a competitive game
- Arson suspect linked to 5 of California’s fires, officials say
- Police radio jamming as a means of information warfare
- Threats over police radios have officers and scanner buffs on the case
- Jamming GPS signals is illegal, dangerous, cheap and easy
- Is this the end of cell phone rage? Pocket size jammers that block signal of inconsiderate callers set to be the next big thing
- Ecodefense – see also the full PDF, and full HTML on The Anarchist Library
- Hit Where It Hurts
- Black Bloc Tactics: A Quick Guide