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When turning your back is threatening behaviour

April 7, 2009

This is what I hope will be the last politics post for a little while. I try to avoid it, because the volume of material means there’s a huge amount to criticise on all sides. Yet it seems foolish to look into a trivial book, when something like this happens.

At the G20 protests Ian Tomlinson died from a heart attack. He wasn’t protesting, he was just trying to get home. The police issued a statement that he died after protesters prevented medics from treating him. Video evidence has come to light which shows that’s not likely to be true. A video at the Guardian shows Tomlinson, with his hands in his pockets walking away from police armed in riot gear. He is attacked from behind and knocked to the ground shortly before he died. No police officers offered any assistance, it came from the public. In light of that, it’s reasonable to seriously consider other claims that Tomlinson had been assaulted by officers before the video was shot.

There’s plenty of blame. The police officer striking Tomlinson is clearly a coward but, seeing as his actions don’t seem to have resulted in immediate action, there’s plenty of other people to suspend or fire. Whoever put out the misleading statement on Tomlinson’s death is, at best, negligent. The people who devised the policing strategy are, at best, incompetent. Ultimately the government has eroded civil liberties to the extent that people cannot protest against its economic mismanagement. The same government has recently passed a law which could make this type of filming illegal because, as any Icelander can tell you, anti-terror leglislation has a tendency to spread. By making everyone a potential enemy they too have had a part in this.

It’s common to pin the blame for the breakdown of modern society onto a fashionable hobby-horse, video games, rock ‘n’ roll or the fad of the day. The behaviour of the police is always going to be contributing factor. I’m willing to best most of the people joining didn’t enter the force to assault people, but if you meet an officer now will you really want to take the risk? That’s a problem if you’re in favour of justice because policing cannot happen without the consent of a community. Otherwise it’s just a paramilitary occupation. The video shows plenty of witnesses in yellow jackets. If they won’t assist the law, who will?

  1. April 8, 2009 9:43 am

    on the subject of anti terror legislation to keep us all scared

    I would dig out the ‘ are you snooping on your neighbours rubbish? poster but its too depressing

  2. April 8, 2009 9:59 am

    The police are a part of society and watch the same video games, etc. They have improved a lot and are far less of a ‘mob’ than they used to be in the 1970s, but will always stick together when it comes to making up the evidence.

    Every year several dozen people are killed by the Police, run down by cars, found dead in cells, accidentally shot, etc. Statistically you are far more likely to be killed by a policeman than a terrorist, it’s simply collateral damage, I imagine it’s the same anywhere in Europe, – at least they have only got sticks, sprays and tazars, if we let have guns many more would routinely die.

  3. April 22, 2009 4:16 pm

    As always an excellent post. The police behaviour is shocking – they use baton charges for no apparent reason, and when they do so there is no control over where the use of force is being applied; they tried to use section 14 public order act powers to make journalists leave an area (for what reason?); they strike out at people who are simply taunting or verbally abusing them; several hid their ID numbers which implies they were intending to commit offences.

    However, the biggest worry is the institutionalised response – after Ian Tomlinson died, the first thing they did was take credit and blame protesters when the truth was the exact opposite.

    The police have to be held to a higher standard than the public. They have powers and authority unlike anyone else, if we cant trust them to act properly and in accordance with the law, what do we have?


  1. Police Disorder » Why Dont You Blog?

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