Posts Tagged ‘G20’

Ian Tomlinson: Fresh Evidence

April 17, 2009

I have never been one to retreat from my views without good reason, however, it is clear that my previous post on the death of Ian Tomlinson requires updating. I had previously stated that I did not believe a shove and/or a baton strike were likely to have caused a heart attack. In the light of this I stated that I did not believe it right to prosecute the individual officer. Following the news today that Mr Tomlinson did not die of a heart attack but from abdominal bleeding my positon has changed.

There will now, rightly, be an investigation into whether the officer is guilty of manslaughter. The fresh evidence considerably increases the likelihood that the police assault was responsible for Mr Tomlinson’s tragic death. The investigation will be complex and determining causation will be tough. It is a matter for the experts who need to consider the facts dispassionately. I do not feel it is appropriate to pass further comment on the matter whilst the police investigation is ongoing. My previous views were based on clearly mistaken evidence and I hope they do not now seem disrespectful to the family of Mr Tomlinson. This news must add to the unimaginable grief and anger his family must be feeling at this time. If the officer is prosecuted, the G20 protests will represent a very dark day indeed in the history of the police.

G20 bystander death: a Tory perspective

April 9, 2009

“well, if you’re going to walk slowly away from police, and they smash your head in with a baton and throw you to the ground, you deserve it, don’t you? It’s all part of what made Britain great.”

Policing Protests: A rethink

April 8, 2009

Like many people, I was shocked to see the footage obtained by the Guardian of a policeman shoving a protester to the ground at the G20 demonstrations. Absent any evidence to the contrary forthcoming, I suspect the shove was largely unrelated to the heart attack the man tragically suffered a short while later. Despite that, it remains a shocking sight to see a policeman treating an entirely innocent man with such brutality.

I am firmly of the belief, however, that punishing the officer individually would be inappropriate. I think serious questions must be asked about how the police deal with demonstrations, and crowd-management generally. This is not a new issue. The policing of the miners’ strike is seen by many as marking a shift from our traditional community law-enforcement body into a political entity of the state. The sight of hundreds of police in full riot gear is a powerful sight. It would be naïve to argue that their presence was not necessary at the demonstration. Clearly elements among the protesters sought confrontation and it is vital that the police kept London moving during the demonstrations. The police must, however, consider how they train their officers in such situations.

Perversely, for all the force used by the police, they failed in their objective to keep property within the march zone safe. The sight of protesters smashing windows at RBS was particularly frustrating for me. The fact that the bank is primarily owned by the taxpayer, the fact that the bank is now trying to recover the pension paid to [Sir] Fred Goodwin and the fact that most of those throwing the stones had never lost a penny to the bank did not concern the protesters. How the police failed to prevent this mindless vandalism baffles me.

Yet at the same time, in a different part of the Square Mile the police could be seen engaging in a full-scale street brawl with young protesters. I believe the mindset of the officers when attending these protests is the major issue. Clearly the officers are risking their lives in such situations and many are inconvenience by having their leave cancelled. Unless they keep a cool head and an impartial mind, however, failures will keep occurring. Officers on the ground require strong leadership, from senior officers with clear strategic ideas. We can no longer have a situation where protesters and police are forced into a totally unnecessary battle.

Kettling, Police Tactics and the G20

April 4, 2009

No one is going to dispute that the police have an important job to do in maintaining public order at demonstrations, and this week’s G20 protests demonstrated (on the whole) a successful police operation for the Met.

However, a number of bloggers have recently brought to light policing tactics at the peaceful Climate Camp demonstration on Bishopsgate. Unlike the protests at Bank and the RBS on Threadneedle Street, the Bishopsgate demo was a peaceful event with none of the anarchist groups that were present elsewhere. From friends I’ve spoken to who were there, it was a mixed group of young and old, and a number of families with toddlers. Why, then, did the Police end up getting so heavy handed towards the end of the day? This video from IndyMedia shows protesters with arms raised being pushed back violently by the police trying to charge up Bishopsgate.

Over at Next Left, Stuart White, a politics lecturer at Jesus College, Oxford, has written an account of the police tactics he witnessed at Bishopsgate which casts doubt on the effectiveness of ‘kettling’; the practice of penning people in and not allowing anyone to enter or leave the area.

The police are to be commended for averting any major incidents during this week, but there are surely better ways to police demonstrations that avoid causing needless distress for peaceful protesters?

– westcoastviews

Lovely day for it

April 1, 2009

g20-protests-and-security-022The sun is shining, the sky is blue. If I hadn’t been busy doing other stuff I would have been happy to go along to the demonstration in the City today.

I would then have been able to engage in some of my favourite pastimes: listening to Billy Bragg, arguing with Trots, and comparing myself in terms of height with the police officers on duty.

I would also have been able to blog live from the protest and would undoubtedly have included lots of pictures of funny anarchists. But instead I’ll have to make my sneery comments from the comfort of Jako Towers.

The Times has compiled a list of the ‘Top Ten placards’ seen out on the streets today. This list includes a few which have left my cuckoo alarm blaring:

“Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth”

“Bankers, Coppers Revolt – Resist Your Own Oppression”

“7/7 – MI5 Did It”

FT reporters have been eagerly twittering away all day:

“Three hours on and my first whiff of a joint. Protesters ain’t what they used to be.”

“Ex-colleague blows my cover. Bloke next to me looks at me with disdain.”

“It’s been a bit boring.” – 33 year old artist Morganic. “I remember the poll tax riots – much more fun.”

Loonies of all sorts were much in evidence today. Those who think the current economic problems are caused by too much government interference in markets also wanted to make sure their voices were heard:

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Jokers.

G20…huh?

March 31, 2009

Confused by G20? The Council on Foreign Relations has produced a great little guide to policy priorities for Thursday’s summit.