What happens when police blur the line between protester and cop? When you can't tell who the bad guys are who's to say the cops aren't inciting protesters in order to gain the excuse to quash dissent?

A disturbing trend of undercover cops infiltrating protest groups and possibly inciting protesters via sham arrests has been uncovered in New York as reported by the New York Times Jim Dwyer and the video footage of I-Witness Video. Watch these four videos for more information:

Part 1 (Undercover infiltration of protests)
Part 2 (Improper videotaping of people unrelated to protests)
Part 3 (possible incitement of a crowd by an undercover officer)

Now this phenomenon seems to have come to Minneapolis on the eve of this years Republican Convention.

The City Pages reports on a college age man who was recruited by the MPD and the FBI to become an informant on protest groups. He refused and went to the press. (I would think protesters would be a particularly hard group to crack this way, but everyone has a price I guess). In an eerie parallel of events in New York at the 2004 RNC the police have cracked down on the Critical Mass bicycle ride. There is also talk that the arrests and subsequent pepper spraying of bystanders might have been incited by undercover cops within the ranks of the riders.

The infiltration of peaceful protest groups far ahead of political events is reminiscent of the FBI tactics of the 60's against Marting Luther King and John Lennon. Unfortunately, being a largely uneducated populace when it comes to history, we have repealed all of the controls on this behavior that were put in place after we realized what a stupid idea it was to let government have this power. Those who do no lean from history...

It becomes a bigger problem, akin to the tactics of a petty dictatorial police state, when police are infiltrating protests and inciting action. This blurs the line too much. When undercover police are able to incite action from a crowd they gain the ability to silence it at will. If cops can incite crowds to a frenzy by staging sham arrests they gain the ability to crack down hard to quell First Amendment rights while falling back on the old saw of "protecting safety".

This country has gone too far in our willingness to abdicate governmental responsibility at the voting booth. In doing so we have brought ourselves as close to a police state as we have been since the 60's or the Guilded age. I for one am disgusted with the direction our government is going and want it to stop.

Unfortunately the only presidential candidate I see with the vision to actual go through with changing the situation won't win. I dearly love Ralph Nader but being historically illiterate we Americans have forgotten everything he has done for the people of this country and instead have decided to pillory him as un-American for excercising his rights in a Democracy.