A Black Lives Matter group in south Wales has closed down after revelations that a covert police unit attempted to recruit one of its members to be an informant.
The Swansea BLM group said it had decided to dissolve itself for a number of reasons, including the attempted recruitment by the police and threats to its members’ physical and mental safety from far-right activists.
Lowri Davies, one of the group’s main organisers, exposed a covert police operation to persuade her to become an informant last year by secretly recording the approach. It was the first public evidence that the police have sought to enlist a mole within the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK.
On Tuesday, Davies said the attempt by South Wales police to recruit her had had “a massive impact” on the group, leading to members drifting away. She said supporters were too scared to join, adding: “It felt like we were fighting against the odds.”
In a statement, BLM Swansea said: “While we have found that our organisation has done some important work, we have been subject to an attempt of infiltration at the hands of South Wales police” and harassment by far-right activists who have visited the homes of supporters and published its members’ personal information online.
The group added: “Swansea has proven to be a tricky place to mobilise, and we have found it difficult to find volunteers and a considerable amount of our members left (understandably so) when South Wales police attempted their infiltration.”
“We’ve had a great year and a half of organising but it’s time to dissolve our organisation, a decision which has been further cemented by the lack of community within organising spaces.”
The group, which had about seven core members and hundreds of supporters online, was set up after the murder of George Floyd in the US by a white police officer in 2020. The group supported local campaigns against alleged police brutality and racism.
Last March, Davies, a Swansea University law student, secretly recorded calls from one of the covert police officers seeking to persuade her to become an informant. She shared the recording with the Guardian to raise awareness of what she says were “distressing” techniques used to try to manipulate her into supplying information to the police.
South Wales police said they neither confirmed nor denied any specific details, adding: “A complaint was received which refers to contact made by a covert officer. This is currently being investigated and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
The Network for Police Monitoring, a civil liberties group, said: “Police attempts to recruit informers in activist groups is about disruption as much as gathering intelligence and it takes its toll on campaigners’ morale.”