Shut Down VION! began its activities in June 2020, when Vion's slaughterhouse in Boxtel remained open despite a corona outbreak. Together with local residents, a demonstration was organized. The demonstration was registered and discussed with the police and the municipality, speeches were held, nothing special. What was special was that the FDF (the militant Farmers Defence Force) threatened to disrupt the protest and participants were therefore transported by bus and had to remain strictly behind fences - to protect them from FDF.
But what happened as well: the responsible district cop put a CTER05 code on this peaceful demonstration. The CTER05 code stands for "animal and environmental extremism". We found this out because activist Frank van der Linde requested his police file.(1)
CTER stands for: Contra Terrorism Extremism and Radicalization. This code can be given to events, and also to individuals and organizations that form a "problem" and are given extra priority by the repressive state systems including AIVD, police, municipality and mayor. This means: more control, more registration and thus more repression. Apparently you can get such a code when you organize a simple demonstration. The good thing is: the code has by now been removed, after we submitted a request for rectification. But what is very frightening is that an overzealous district agent can label a demonstration as such and there are no safeguards to prevent false labeling.
Already at the first demonstration in June, the police thought it necessary to check IDs of some activists after the event, something that the cops kept repeating at actions of our group, which is highly questionable. The police demand IDs because they want to know who is involved. Activists who regularly attend actions that are (unrightfully) tagged with CTER codes can become CTER subjects. From then on, the state has more powers to monitor these activist, as well as their families and acquaintances.
A few actions later, in March 2021, Shut Down VION! faced another form of state repression. During the action - a blockade of the slaughterhouse entrance - four people were arrested.
Two of them, both wheelchair users, did not have their ID with them and remained anonymous. They therefore stayed extra long in the Den Bosch police custody. One of them was even illegally sent to immigration detention. Only when our lawyer threatened with emergency legal proceedings, the IND backed and they now have to pay compensation.
They were also approached by a man in plain clothes who did not identify himself and who presented himself as someone from the intelligence service. He gave them his phone number and asked them to call him, but not to tell anyone about this visit. Both detainees found this intimidating. Only those in wheelchairs were approached. This does not surprise us: ablism, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination are commonplace in the police.
The intelligence man turns out to be part of the Team Public Order Intelligence (TOOI). This is a spin-off of the regional teams of the AIVD (RIDs), known to climate activists from Extinction Rebellion and Code Rood, among others, where this service was already actively recruiting informants two years ago. According to Minister Ferd Grapperhaus of Justice, TOOI only recruits informants if there is sufficient necessity and reason to do so "in view of (potential) serious disruptions of public order" (Parliamentary questions June 2019).
Intelligence services prefer to work secretly, and mainly try to scare people: we're watching you! The police (and the entire state apparatus) always think they can get away with repression. Files are hardly ever shared or requests are ignored.
Of course we will not be intimidated - and we will continue with our actions.
Do you also have a strange encounter with authorities or have you been approached by police officers or intelligence services? Don't be intimidated and talk about it! It is important that comrades know what happened to you, it is also important that activist groups are warned about attempts by the state to infiltrate and manipulate. Write down for yourself what you experienced, as detailed as possible. Since memories fade, this may be useful later on. But above all: don't keep this to yourself, share your experience with people you trust.
(1) By the way, Frank was not even at this demo and his name has already been removed from the report after a rectification request.
The picture for this post was taken by Rachied on the first demonstration 26 June 2020.