A provocateur is someone who provokes trouble, causes dissent, or is an agitator. This is done through vandalism, violence, or through harassing the police and thereby instigating staged arrests.
The provocateur is a common role within any protest or demonstration. Sometimes this is a protester, or group acting on their own. In that case they may be ignorant, or may lack direction. They may not understand how to play within the system and still get what they want. Provoking trouble is rarely successful toward helping a cause.
The second type of provocateur is not expecting success for the movement objectives, but rather they intend to draw attention through negative publicity. Very often, they mean to incite negative feelings toward the police, or other officials. When this type of provoking is in play, you can often identify the provocateur simply by noticing who points the finger. We will illustrate this with the first example below.
The third type of provocateur is also called an “agent provocateur” which is hired by state-side authorities. They are used to discredit a peaceful protest. They also give a seemingly valid reason for police to make arrests or end a demonstration.
Some information is still coming together specific to the Occupy Wall Street actions. For now though, it appears that both the second and third type are in play. They may actually be working together, or in some kind of pissing match.
The second type is most evident in Philadelphia. A city that has been more than tolerant of their people’s demonstrations and occupation. That factor honestly makes it easier to smell a rat. The police barely made an arrest until provocation was ratcheted up a notch or two.
Enter Cindy Milstein. She is an anarchist activist and a board member of the Institute for Anarchist Studies. Her Wikipedia page. Cindy has been staying on site at Occupy Philadelphia(closet part-timer) since day one. That considered, she must be from Philly, right? Nope. She’s a San Francisco resident. Odd that she would be in Philadelphia instead of staying close to home, no? That is unless there are larger agendas at work, and/or a paycheck.
She does seem to make a living by speaking at anarchist and socialist gatherings. Although it is still not clear how that is a career/job. Who writes the checks? Where’s the revenue stream? Baffling. Currently her role appears to be chief provocation expert as illustrated below in three examples.
1. Cindy had her cronies construct a fortress on the City Hall site (image below). It is made of shipping pallets and tarps, and is situated against the western wall of the historic building. It has some message about Philadelphia homeless population spray painted on it, for effect one might assume. We all know she is not homeless.
The City of Philadelphia calls the structure a fire hazard, which it probably is, but the hired horde will spring to action with downward twinkle fingers and leverage the homeless if the subject is raised. No fire safety will be permitted by their general assembly in Philadelphia. We think that’s a shame. It discredits us as a movement. It’s also an extremely irresponsible form of provocation. Put people in danger, and then tell the city to sit and spin. Nice one!
2. Cindy may not be directly responsible for this one, but judging by the cast of characters involved, it appears she may have been the play-write. On 10/14 two individuals drove up to the occupy site in Philly. The passenger exited the vehicle and threw a can of pistachio colored paint on the building. He then ran back to the vehicle which then made a hasty exit. An eyewitness reported that these signs (images below) were made before the police arrived on the scene, only minutes later. Hmm. Those are either well-practiced speed artisans, or there was a provocateur in their midst. It’s also interesting that they, so willingly, posed for these pictures.
3. On the 22nd and 23rd of October 2011, there was a sit-in. It was in protest of police brutality. Something that hasn’t occurred in Philly for quite a while. Well, they needed something, their dot on this arrest map was non-existent. So they claimed it was in solidarity with other cities. Ok, whatever.
The sit-in occurred on 8th Street in downtown Philadelphia. Standard traffic blocking formation. The actual sitters were mostly kids, ready and willing to get arrested for some friends, cigarettes, and cheap notoriety. They were mostly anarchists, misguided. Cindy was there as well, photographed during the early stages. It took hours for the police to decide it was time to round them up and allow traffic to flow. So where was Cindy Milstein when her followers were getting arrested? Why, creating media, of course! She sure loves her some internetz! Some just isn’t enough for Cindy. She wrote three articles about it!