Anarchists should be reported, advises Westminster anti-terror police
What should you do if you discover an anarchist living next door? Dust off your old Sex Pistols albums and hang out a black and red flag to make them feel at home? Invite them round to debate the merits of Peter Kropotkin’s anarchist communism versus the individualist anarchism of Emile Armand? No – the answer, according to an official counter-terrorism notice circulated in London last week, is that you must report them to police immediately.
This was the surprising injunction from the Metropolitan Police issued to businesses and members of the public in Westminster last week. There was no warning about other political groups, but next to an image of the anarchist emblem, the City of Westminster police’s “counter terrorist focus desk” called for anti-anarchist whistleblowers stating: “Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police.”
The move angered some anarchists who complained that being an anarchist should not imply criminal behaviour. They said they feel unfairly criminalised for holding a set of political beliefs.
Grass war? Met police retracts call for public to report anarchists
The Metropolitan police initiated an embarrassing climbdown after a police station in Belgravia, west London, published a leaflet asking the public and businesses to report anyone with anarchist sympathies.
The call for information on a political rather than criminal group echoed a similar appeal for information about al-Qaida activity and “could have been better worded”, Scotland Yard admitted.
City of Westminster police’s “counter-terrorist focus desk” had last week called for anti-anarchist whistleblowers, stating next to an anarchist emblem: “Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police.”