Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Do Your Duty, Or Do The Right Thing?

The protests around the G20 meeting have been the cause of much debate, particularly regarding the conduct of those involved. The police, the media, the protesters and the public all have serious questions to answer.

There were a number of different events happening simultaneously around the city, but the one which got all the attention was the window smashing of an RBS branch next to the Bank of England.

This was the point where the most dramatic confrontation between the Police and the protesters occurred. It was also on the fringes of this foment that the single fatality of the day got mixed up into the story.

Ian Tomlinson, was a not involved in the protests and was walking calmly away from the pack of Police officers (with dogs) when he was struck by a baton and pushed to the ground. It was shortly after regaining his footing and walking a short distance that he suffered the heart attack which killed him.

Frankly I am appalled by this.

Leaving aside my initial impression that Tomlinson was intoxicated and that he was 'a Millwall fan' as total irrelevancies, I can fully appreciate the indignity and shock alone combined to cause the reaction. Add to that any injury inflicted by the Police (an autopsy will show whether he hit his head on the ground) and this is a death which was completely avoidable.

Anyone who has ever encountered the Police when they are attempting to impose themselves on a situation will recognise how easy it is for them to cross the line of acceptability.

The Labour Government also have serious questions to answer over this death, adding to the litany of terrors they have perpetrated as they conduct their war 'against' terror - let nobody forget Jean-Charles de Menezes. In both cases they failed to make accurate identification of their target and on both occasions innocent people died.

It is interesting that the footage ever came to light considering Labour recently banned the taking of pictures of the Police, and considering the location of the incident I fully expect CCTV coverage to emerge.

Ultimately though, Ian Tomlinson's legacy is to be turned into another morality tale for our time: when confrontation between the forces of authority and anarchy occurs, bypassers get trampled.

2 comments:

mattblackall said...

There are many things i could say about the G20 protests, the police, and the way protests are policed. But i'll save that for another day. The most worrying thing about the power the police have nowadays is the police accountability that is taken away by the banning of taking photographs of the police. As you say, i am surprised the video came out, i would had thought Downing Street and Scotland Yard would be straight onto the Guardian and demand it's withdrawal!

GIDEON MACK said...

The Police met the demonstration with a pre conceived idea as to what they were going to do. The demonstrators (off message) didn't behave in a way that warranted this pre conceived 'reaction'.