The Vancouver Police Department has not used agents provocateurs to incite protesters to commit illegal acts during anti-Olympic demonstrations, according to a spokesperson.
“We do not use agents provocateurs,” Const. Lindsey Houghton told the Straight today (February 24) by phone. “We do not infiltrate protest groups.”
A week ago, Harsha Walia, a spokesperson for the Olympic Resistance Network, told the Straight that activists suspect several people who participated in the protests on February 12 and 13 were undercover police officers.
At the time, Houghton told the Straight that he was “not aware” of any agents provocateurs being deployed by his police force.
“I said I’m not aware of any, and I’m telling you now that we did not have any,” Houghton said today.
On February 12, the Straight observed activists accusing a man of being an undercover police officer at the Take Back Our City protest outside B.C. Place during the Olympics opening ceremony.
While the man appeared to be a photojournalist, he refused to identify his media affiliation when asked by protesters and remained silent as activists levelled their accusations at him. After the crowd chanted, “I smell bacon, I smell pork”, the man accepted an offer by officers to leave through the police line.
Houghton said he has watched the Straight’s video of the alleged agent provocateur exiting the protest. According to him, the man is not a police officer.
“He is an independent journalist,” Houghton said.
Const. Olivier Lapointe, a spokesperson for the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit, told the Straight last week that, if there were agents provocateurs at the Take Back Our City and 2010 Heart Attack protests, they wouldn’t have been from the Olympic security force.
Previously, in a July 2009 interview with the Straight, another VISU spokesperson wouldn’t rule out the use of agents provocateurs during the Winter Olympics.
Although Houghton said that Vancouver police have never used agents provocateurs, he left open the possibility that the department could use them in the future.
“I can’t say we would,” Houghton said. “I can’t say we wouldn’t. If the circumstances are so grave and risk the public safety, we would certainly use any tactic to save someone’s life or potentially thousands of people’s lives. I think people would expect us to do everything we can to save people’s lives.”
Activists accuse a man of being an agent provocateur during a protest outside the opening ceremony of the 2010 Olympics on February 12.
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