Types of Repression: Infiltration

Infiltration is when either a member of a state agency or someone being paid by a state agency or enticed as part of a plea deal becomes a part of your organization or action without letting you know their state connections. State agencies include local police as well as national investigators. The purpose of infiltration is usually to gather information on your group, your members, what you are doing, what your politics are, and your social maps. This information is then used by the state to disrupt, isolate, divide, discredit certain people or groups of people, as well as to charge people with crimes in order to redirect the movement away from its systemic and radical goals or to stop the movement all together. 

Some infiltrators are passive and just gather information. Sometimes, however, infiltrators take a more active role in creating disruption and division in movements. These people can be called provocateurs. We will cover provocateurs in another post.  

If you think someone has infiltrated your organization, it is important that you have credible visual evidence of this before you accuse that person within your organization or publicly. Unfounded accusations can be very dangerous to both organizations and movements. Credible visual evidence can be a copy of a plea deal, pay stubs, or other documentation that connects a member of your organization directly to a specific state agency. 

To limit potential damage from infiltration, you should build a culture where you get to know each other member of your organization. Know everyone’s back story, go to people’s houses and see where they live, meet people’s family members or lovers or partners. Have standards of behavior and hold each other accountable for them. Center care and emotional labor as a valuable and visible part of your culture. Ensure that key information and relationships are spread amongst several members. Have a clear decision making process that lets everyone have a voice and doesn’t favor one person or group of people’s agenda. These sorts of culture and organizational practices can go a long way to pushing someone with ill intentions out of your group or preventing them from gaining the information they want.