Monday, October 10, 2011

"Occupy" Participants Beware: Agents Provocateur Like The One at Air Space Museum Are Threat

by Rob Kall

It's become clear that besides pepper-spray wielding police there is another threat to the "Occupy" movement-- agents provocateur.

The people who planned the protest against killer drones at the National Air and Space museum wanted to make a statement and send a message. They did not want to scare families and children or shut down the museum. 

That was not on the agenda of admitted agent provocateur Patrick Howley, assistant editor at the right wing publication American Spectator. He brags about running ahead of other protesters, into the main museum area, in the process shocking and startling tourists. 

Howley reports in his braggadocio filled American Spectator article
Under a cloud of pepper spray I forced myself into the doors and sprinted blindly across the floor of the Air and Space Museum, drawing the attention of hundreds of stunned khaki-clad tourists (some of whom began snapping off disposable-camera portraits of me). I strained to glance behind me at the dozens of protesters I was sure were backing me up, and then I got hit again, this time with a cold realization: I was the only one who had made it through the doors. As two guards pointed at me and started running, I dodged a circle of gawking old housewives and bolted upstairs.
Howley's story does hold up, that he was next to a big guy. We know because Opednews photojournalist, Cheryl Biren, took the photo that Firedoglake writer Charlie Grapski used for his article on this Agent Provocateur.

Grapski took Biren's photo that included Howley and matched that to Howley profile photo on American spectator, shown below. 

We can't verify his claim of forcing himself in and sprinting across the museum floor or even understand why, as an editor, he would do such a thing. What we do know is that his triumphant claim to be the "only one who made it through the doors," is patently inaccurate. So much for being the assistant editor of a news organization. He was absolutely not the only one who made it through the doors. Here's a photo by anti-war veteran, Bill Perry, of the three story banner several marchers displayed in the museum. 

A banner reading "No Drones, End Afghan War" was dropped inside the Air and Space museum.

Grapski comments on Howley's actions and their implications, Howley refers to the Museum as "the scene of my crime."  In light of his detailed description of his activities today the fact that they clearly document the commission of the crime of trespassing on federal property, if not the intent to incite a riot there, these admissions should not be taken lightly or ignored.  As a result of Howley's activities a large number of people were subjected to pepper-spray attacks including journalists and tourists who had nothing to do with the protest.  Given the negative light that the press is attempting to spin this incident with regard to the ongoing occupations, from Wall Street and D.C. and now spreading to Main Streets across the country, the presence and admitted activities of this self-proclaimed agent provacateur should be brought to the attention of federal law enforcement officials.

It is highly likely that the events that occurred would not have taken the turn they did if it were not for Howley's admitted adventure in an effort to discredit the Occupy movement.  So before the public, the media, and officials turn their attention negatively towards the protests and the protesters there needs to be a critical eye turned on the role of the  American Spectator and the role played in these events by its editorial staff.  If arrests were made at this incident, and even if none were, the admissions of Howley published brazenly in the pages of his Conservative magazine and bragged about on his Facebook page should lead to an official investigation into his role and that of his employer in the events in Washington D.C. today and should be seen as at least part of the causal nexus that led to the inappropriate use of force that along with Howley negatively affected many who were innocent of any crime other than being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Howley saw his "criminal" activity as a prank. But as the occupy movement grows, it is realistic to expect that Howley's article will inspire more agent provocateur actions by right wing frat boy types who think that provoking guards or police to violence is a fun prank.

The growing Occupy movement has to be very careful about people like Howley.  Here's the Wikipedia description of agents provocateur:
"Traditionally, an agent provocateur (pluralagents provocateursFrench for "inciting agent(s)") is a person employed by the police or other entity to act undercover to entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act. More generally, the term may refer to a person or group that seeks to discredit or harm another by provoking them to commit a wrong or rash action. As a known tool to prevent infiltration by agents provocateurs, [ 1 ]  the organizers of large or controversial assemblies may deploy and coordinate demonstration marshals, also called stewards."
Apparently, based on Howley's report, he was too lazy or dumb to provoke other marchers to get in trouble. Maybe American Spectator's assistant editor didn't read Wikipedia, or the playbook. 

But there will be smarter agents provocateur, and more trouble-makers like Howley who aim to escalate, disrupt and sabotage peaceful protests. There will be people who Andrew Breitbart or his clones coach and encourage to do as Howley, pretending to be marchers. 

It is important to anticipate more of the same kind of actions as Howley perpetrated. There are legal teams associated with the Occupy movement. Perhaps they can formulate a way to get charges against Howley and his ilk. 

The dangers of escalating peaceful protests are real. One commenter on the video I posted on youtube which showed a guard indiscriminately spraying pepper spray out the door of the museum, said that pepper spray wasn't enough. They should use a "teser" (his spelling of, I guess, Taser) and if that didn't work, a Glock. 

There was another troublemaker at the demonstration-- a man who threw an empty water bottle towards the guards. As soon as he did it, other marchers surrounded him and challenged his violence. In fact, the group has "Peacekeepers" trained in nonviolent protest who move to de-escalate and separate individuals who become verbally or physically aggressive.

This man, when confronted, acted bizarrely. Just moments before, as you can see in the video, he was using his phone to take pictures. Who knows if he was another agent provocateur or just a bit unstable. 

Either way, these types of problems should continue to be discussed and addressed

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and site architect of, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), President of Futurehealth, Incinventor . He is also published regularly on the

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