I like this so much I’m going to throw in some bonus linky-love for the creator’s website.
OK, all done? Right, let’s get back to it, then:
I like this so much I’m going to throw in some bonus linky-love for the creator’s website.
OK, all done? Right, let’s get back to it, then:
I’m not anti-police, as some right-wing scribblers have been claiming or implying.
I’m anti-kettling, certainly, but not anti-police.
But if I’m to retain faith in the Met or any other British police force, then I need to see that the police officers who are responsible for all improper policing at the G20 event can and will be called to account… i.e. not just those who, like Bob Quick, cannot expect any slack from a certain party in opposition. For some reason.
I am genuinely concerned about statements fed to the media by the police that appear to be either prone to misinterpretation, somewhat embellished, lacking in certain key facts, or outright lies.
I am alarmed to think that political pressure is required to prompt even simple suspensions when video footage emerges of police attacking a man from behind and without provocation.
I’m merely disappointed that the officers involved didn’t come forward until after the video came to light, but I am incensed that the reasons they could not be identified by their own superiors (including hidden faces and obscured badge numbers) are not being treated as major issues themselves.
(Psst! I asked a blogging G20 police offer in what circumstances he would regard it to be appropriate for an officer to obscure their badge number. The mix of evasion and implication in his response is less than comforting.)
It worries me that nothing would have been done about this without the video evidence that police appear to have tried to collect/delete or preemptively suppress, especially when – without it – we had media commentators like Iain Dale dismissing the allegations of police violence out of hand and even making a joke about it being such a non-story that the only person in for a battering that day would be Jacqui Smith (ha-ha, let’s all laugh at the dead man get back to the £10 porn scandal and other news that matters).
Even with the video evidence, Tomlinson failed to rate anything but a passing mention in most newsapers yesterday. Blame the tight deadlines if you like, but the fact is that the Bob Quick story first appeared at almost exactly the same time yesterday (7pm) as the Tomlinson video did the night before (6pm), but Tomlinson only made the front page of the Guardian the next day.
Today, Quick’s predicament makes the front pages on… well, pretty much every front page (including the Daily Mail, Express and Telegraph, The Times, the FT, the Mirror and The Sun).
Meanwhile, right-wing bloggers are still busy making out that Tomlinson was asking for this in some way (for being drunk, uncooperative, “very much part of the protest” etc.), and – in the same fucking breath – chiding ‘lefties’ for daring to draw any parallels to Jean Charles de Menezes.
(Let’s leave aside for the moment those who scoff from their ivory towers and hold fast to the quite ridiculous notion that participation in pretty much any protest not involving the Countryside Alliance warrants a head-kicking.)
In short, we are being cheated by old media and the ‘leading bloggers’ who claim to be a viable alternative.
Further, now we have the IPCC marching into the offices of the Guardian calling for the removal of this vital evidence from their website:
In the course of this there must be an account of why, from the moment of Mr Tomlinson’s death, the police misled the news media, and in some cases lied, about what happened. The Metropolitan police’s duty of truthfulness failed on 1 April. Statements were issued on and off the record about the Tomlinson incident, omitting details that must have been known to the police and including false claims. Police representatives subsequently tried to stop reporters doing their jobs, misrepresenting the views of the Tomlinson family. The IPCC misled the media about the case too. And what kind of independent body is it whose first reaction to the Guardian’s evidence on Tuesday night was to call at our offices (accompanied by a City of London policeman) and ask for it to be taken off the website? It is not hard to fear that the pressures encouraged the police to minimise and even deny the truth of what happened to Mr Tomlinson and then to resist, not promote, attempts to reveal it. Either way, the police lost sight of their priorities.
Three essential things should now follow. The first is that the upgraded investigation must provide an authoritative and comprehensive account of Mr Tomlinson’s final minutes, drawing on all available evidence, including police CCTV evidence, and placing it in the context of the G20 policing strategy. The second is that anyone suspected of a crime arising from the investigation into Mr Tomlinson’s death should have to answer for it in court. And the third is that the wider lessons about the policing of public order, the police’s media strategy during emergencies, the working of the police complaints system, and the implications for police training must be learned and systematically applied. The best way to deal with these wider issues is for the home secretary to appoint a judicial inquiry. Remember Mr King’s words. That was not correct policing.
JackP of The Pickards has a post along similar lines, with bolder objectives…
But more than anything else, the words of the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, have proved to me that the Met Police aren’t actually capable of policing.
“On a day like that, where there are some protesters who are quite clearly hell-bent on causing as much trouble as they can, there is inevitably going to be some physical confrontation. Sometimes it isn’t clear, as a police officer, who is a protester and who is not. I know it’s a generalisation but anybody in that part of the town at that time, the assumption would be that they are part of the protest.” – Peter Smyth, quoted on BBC News
Peter here quite rightly identifies that some protesters were causing trouble. He then suggests that the police mis-identified Ian Tomlinson as a protester, and that’s why they struck him. What? Peter Smyth’s quote would lead me to believe that he thinks it is okay for the police to baton-strike any protester and hurl him to the ground, whether or not he is actually breaking the law. In the views of the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, protester = criminal, and striking Ian, had he been protesting, would have been perfectly legitimate.
That flagrant disregard for the rights of peaceful protesters sums up the Met’s actions.
Jean Charles de Menezes. Ian Tomlinson. That could have been you. That could have been your brother, your father, your friend. Next time it might very well be you or someone you care about, unless we take action to prevent a ‘next time’. Justice must be done, as opposed to the usual response of ‘covering up for police brutality’.
So I’d like to propose my solution.
1. Firstly, any member of any police force found to have lied about police action (or protester action) to be sacked. If this person can demonstrate that they were given incorrect information, then that will be a reasonable defence — provided they can identify who gave them that information, so they can be sacked.
2. Secondly, any member of any police force found to have used violence on an innocent (or violence otherwise inappropriate for the situation) to be charged with the appropriate criminal offense. Being a serving police officer is no defense; if anything this makes it worse as I think we have a right to expect higher standards from our police officers
3. Thirdly, kettling and similar tactics to be deemed illegal, and any police officer who recommends or allows such a tactic to be charged with “behaviour likely to incite a riot” (or whatever the nearest equivalent is) by the Crown Prosecution Service.
4. Fourth, the Metropolitan Police Service to be disbanded. They have proved, more than once, that we cannot trust what they say. They have proved, more than once, that they have caused the death of an innocent man. It’s no good simply replacing the man at the top: the entire root and branch of the organisation needs to be replaced. That isn’t to say every officer needs to automatically be replaced, but the existing command structure has proved not to work, and needs to be replaced. We need a police service in London, but we need a far better one than the Met.
You may think at first that #4 comes on a bit strong. I know I did. Then I read this:
The police officer seen on a video by millions of people assaulting a man at the G20 protests minutes before he died will be questioned by investigators today after coming forward last night.
The territorial support group officer identified himself to his manager and the Independent Police Complaints Commission as fresh pictures suggested he had removed his shoulder number and covered his face with a balaclava before hitting Ian Tomlinson with a baton and pushing him to the ground last week.
But the officer has not been arrested on suspicion of assault or suspended from duty by the Metropolitan police.
If video evidence emerged of me decking some bloke, I’d expect the police to knock on my door eventually.
If that man had died minutes later, I’d expect the police to knock on my door immediately.
If the video also showed that I had taken measures to hide my identity before the assault, I would expect a rather short but awkward conversation about pre-meditation to precede a decision regarding the actual charge(s), but certainly nothing that would take hours to process.
But don’t think for a moment that the system is corrupting itself in order to protect one man; what you see at work here is corruption working to protect corruption… and fuck me if it doesn’t look like going all the way to the top.
As I blogged earlier, a full and independent criminal inquiry into the circumstances of Ian Tomlinson’s death is likely to reveal more than a single bad apple.
And recent events have shown that the police can’t even police their own police:
The Metropolitan Police faced fresh allegations of brutality last night after it emerged that a man who died at the G20 protests may have been attacked by riot police three times… Last night the IPCC revealed that a number of the officers caught up in the incident had yet to come forward…. “At the moment the investigation is focused on identifying the officers in the footage. Several have already come forward and all efforts are being made to trace those who haven’t.”
So there’s no record of who was doing what and where, then? No one can work out who the senior officers in attendance might be and/or those officers can’t identify the people operating under (or perhaps outside their orders)? Honestly?
And no immediate suspension of those who (eventually) came forward? Really?
The message the Met and the IPCC are sending the public at the moment is as follows:
A police officer can obscure their badge number, assault a member of a public, and expect to get away with it so long as they keep their mouth shut.
UPDATE (6pm) – BBC – G20 police officer is suspended: A statement from the IPCC said: “The IPCC called for the officer to be suspended. The MPS has now informed us that the officer has been suspended with immediate effect. Although decisions about suspension are a matter for the Chief Officer of the police, when there is an IPCC investigation, the police are obliged to consult with us over the suspension of officers. In this case, we have expressed the view that the officer in question should be suspended from duty, in the public interest.”
This announcement comes to us very late on a Thursday afternoon before Good Friday and a long Easter weekend.
I feel like someone’s just pissed in my mouth. You?
The race to the bottom continues in Australasia…
Meet Stephanie Mills, who is a former Greenpeace campaign leader with some 20 years experience appearing in that link as a guest on the TVNZ ‘Breakfast’ show with hosts Alison Mau and Paul Henry (who also does his fair share of talk radio).
Stephanie had been invited on that show to discuss the French Government’s decision to compensate people made ill by its nuclear testing in the Pacific.
Now take a look at the moment where Paul Henry, with the aid of some anonymous viewers, reduces his guest and her contribution to one single, irrelevant word:
Meanwhile, across the southern pond, the ABC reports on yet another “spectacular example of lousy journalism”; this time the publication of faked raunchy images of Pauline Hanson.
“We turned to see the police hitting people. A whole line of them lashing out indiscriminately again and again. Two officers close to me who had “Police Medic” written on their back were walking up and down behind the line of their colleagues, protected from direct assault, reaching over and thrashing with the most gusto of all.” – (source)
UPDATE – Oops. I thought I was linking to the original earlier, but the original by amjamjazz can in fact be found here.
Via comments in the original photo thread; video footage of more madcap medics in action (relevant clip at about 2.05 onwards).
“Not a lot in tomorrow’s papers. Oh well, I suppose it’ll be Jacqui Smith’s turn for a battering again…” Iain Dale (at 11pm last night)
“I hadn’t seen the video until I went to Sky last night to do the paper review.” Iain Dale (this morning)
No, he’d just read the reports and made his initial judgement (and a ‘funny’ joke or a Freudian slip of epic proportions) based on his prejudices.
Well, the damning nature of the video evidence may have dragged Iain closer to centre ground, but the doubts still continue from three of his main comment contributors, who appear to cling to some dim hope that Ian Tomlinson might have been strangling kittens moments before that policeman gave him a playful shove:
“The video clearly shows someone not co-operating with police requests to move on. Whether due to his incipient heart attack, drink or anything else, we can’t say.” – JuliaM
“You say he was ‘attempting to get home’, but the facts (i.e. the circuitous path he was taking on his way home) don’t seem to support that. You say he wasn’t abusing the police but how do you know? If a policeman is getting suspended/prosecuted for that shove I’d better turn myself in for some of the tackles I made playing football yesterday.” – PragueTory (Dominic Fisher) (more)
“The video said Ian Tomlinson was ‘attempting to get home from work’ – oh, really? So he just happened to be wearing plain clothes and accidentally found himself in front of a police cordon that was clearing the area of protestors during a mass gathering around the G20 summit? Please, don’t insult our intelligence. This was nothing more than a deliberate attempt to portray Ian as an innocent bystander when in reality he was very much part of the protest.” –
Letters from a Tory>
(See also: Quaequam Blog! – Does the right really value freedom? The acid test. For the record; I’d like the freedom to walk down the road and mind my own business or attend a protest without being attacked in this way.)
UPDATE (10.20) – No word from Iain about what may or may not have been meant as a joke. He deleted my first question about it, and has ignored the second.
UPDATE – (11.20) – Also, do read Mr Eugenides on the above Quaequam post.
Guardian – Video reveals G20 police assault on man who died: Exclusive footage obtained by the Guardian shows Ian Tomlinson, who died during G20 protests in London, was attacked from behind by baton-wielding police officer
Kettling is wrong. Indiscriminate kettling now appears to have led to a man dying simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time… not that it would have been right to kill a man just because he had a far better idea of why police might be rounding up people in the street and hemming them in.
Inquiry now, please.
(See also: Jean Charles de Menezes)
UPDATE – Hm. That was silly of me. I forgot the lessons of this exchange. There are unseen moments between this event and Tomlinson’s collapse; he might’ve been hit by a bus or something.
While the paper that needs to do the most elegant reverse ferret has the most time between now and going to print, you should expect some odd noises from tabloids tomorrow, as they struggle to fit this clear turnaround of events into the tightest of schedules.
“This is exactly why it should never be illegal to photograph and film the police” – Stephen Mullen
Oh, and if you want to stage a demonstration about police conduct, you’ll probably need to fill out form 3175 or 3175a, a mind-focusing short-term consequence that’s only the chewy crust of this iceberg-sized shit sandwich:
Often at protest events in London, some police officers will have a number or letter missing from their lapels, and that’s just the start of it. The Met have been getting away with the use of this tactic and others for quite some time now, and I’d readily wager that several unsavoury tactics and practices will now come to light and make a political nuisance of themselves.
UPDATE – Interactive map of Ian Tomlinson’s last movements including accounts by eyewitnesses and Guardian video now available on YouTube. Share, share, share.
UPDATE – A photo of a police medic in action that is sure to impress you. Also, a couple of hours after the assault of Ian Tomlinson was captured on camera, this report went live on Indymedia; “We are current(ly) receiving reports from the Climate Camp in the city, that all people are going to be searched to be allowed out, as well as people are told to delete photos of officers from their cameras, under the threat of seizure.”
[MINI-UPDATE (10 Apr) – Headline altered for the sake of accuracy. Tomlinson was assaulted moments before his collapse, not his death. I would say ‘heart attack’, but let’s wait for the second autopsy ordered by the IPCC, eh?]
So the next time Craig has difficulty publicising this government’s complicity in torture, Iain Dale will withhold any publicity (via his website and/or his ‘politically neutral’ magazine) because of one comment that he chooses to take personally?
Bloody hell… there’s holding a grudge and there’s holding a grudge. I know this measure is typical of Iain (it’s one of the reasons why he is a poor ambassador for blogging and why no fair poll of weblogs can be conducted on his carefully-filtered website) but surely this is a hissy-fit too far.
(I can only assume the ” I have gone out of my way to support you” bit refers to the Usmanov post that Iain has waved in my face in the past; as if he were doing me/Craig a personal favour instead of standing up for a principle he believes in or any silly nonsense like that.)
Either way, Glen Jenvey describes Jeremy Reynalds as a friend, they worked together to some extent on a book that has yet to see the light of day, and Jeremy Reynalds recently wrote two articles that were quite sympathetic toward our Mr Jenvey (one of which has since been removed):
(Psst! Don’t feel bad, boys; everybody who’s anybody is withdrawing articles without explanation these days, and I myself have a novel languishing in the doldrums.)
I’ve just been in touch with Jeremy Reynalds, who insists that he has “no advocacy position” on Glen Jenvey, and claims merely to have given Glen Jenvey an opportunity to tell his side of the story, as he felt there was an imbalance in reporting at the time; in his own words, Jeremy Reynalds’ intention was to “present Mr. Jenvey’s response to the charges against him and to share some of his perspective about why they surfaced,” as he felt this had not been done.
(For some reason, Mr Jenvey had little trouble getting his other conspiracy theories aired in tabloids, but could only rely on Jeremy Reynalds to air his claim that the Guardian were in league with extremists. This could simply be a budget-cutting credit-crunch thing, because lately even I have trouble getting any kind of response out of any of these people.)
However, after delivering one side of the story, Jeremy Reynalds appears to have failed to keep up with both sides of the story, as he now claims not to have heard from our Mr Jenvey in a month, and to be unaware of any accusations of sex crimes… i.e. the pile of turds currently at the centre of the story.
(Psst! A new round of freshly-crafted smears emerged at the weekend. All you need to know is that the only departure from the established plan/theme is that the perpetrator is no longer posing as a representative of the Daily Mail.)
One can only wonder when exactly the story ‘dried up’ for Mr Reynalds, because I didn’t catch any part where he pointed out that someone might have been wrong about the Guardian being in league with extremists thing, but at some stage he clearly stopped pursuing this dynamite story, so I can only assume that the leads stopped coming in… at about the time Mr Jenvey… stopped… calling………..*
… no, don’t mind me; I thought I saw a little revelation lurking in the shadows there, but it appears to be a trick of the light.
Anyway, as I’ve pointed out a couple of times now I’m experiencing some story imbalance myself in places, and Jeremy Reynalds appears to have dropped the ‘Guardian in league with extremists’ exclusive that was keeping him so busy… so I’ve asked him if he wouldn’t mind taking the time to tell my side of the story.
You know; to present my response to the charges against me and to share some of my perspective about why they surfaced, and like that.
I’ll let you know how I get on.
(Pardon my tense… there’s a few things I’d like to put in the past.)
For the benefit of the archive:
This post first went live when the Dunblane/Express petition was delivered, as elements of the mainstream media made false claims about G20 protestor violence on par with Hillsborough. At that time, it was mostly beyond the remit of the PCC to do anything about an article that wasn’t about you personally, and the libel laws were mostly a set of tools for rich bullies wishing to silence critics while denying them their day in court.
Recent events showed that few newspapers allowing comments were publishing any criticism of substance, and they rarely if ever engaged under comments, which is an entirely un-blog-like thing to do, and certainly not on during a phase where mainstream media companies were trying to horn in on the blogging action while rubbishing the reputations of those in their way (i.e. us).
Further, a combination of economic forces and selfishness was leading to widespread sackings and an alarming downturn in quality, as profit was shoved ahead of the public interest more often and to clearly unacceptable extremes.
On this blog/week alone, I found myself chasing editors of The Times, The People, the Daily Star, The Sun, the Daily Mail, the Express, the Sunday Express, The Scottish Sun and even The Independent with really quite valid concerns, but hearing back from none of them, presumably because ‘more money’ equals ‘better than’.
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Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve all seen the recent/sudden downturn in the quality and reliability of mainstream news and comment, coinciding with alarming outbreaks of carelessness and sheer malice in some places.
We’ve got at least one rogue publisher (Richard Desmond) thumbing his nose at the PCC, and while every news outlet is begging us for chunks of our private lives that they can publish for profit (with or without our permission), no bugger will answer our emails or address our concerns when something that is clearly false has been published, and no effort has been made to remove, correct or (Dog forbid) alert readers to the error. Meanwhile, pretty much the same applies to the (blissfully) few ‘leading bloggers’ who claim to be challenging the establishment.
The only news outlet that’s in any way compelled to answer is the BBC, who find themselves crippled since Andrew Gilligan shot off his fat gob, and under constant attack by the same parties described in the previous paragraph (i.e. those who demand accountability of others, yet think themselves above it).
Clearly the time has come for us to form organised squads and start hitting people with sticks.
If you’re of a mind to do something positive and powerful about outright lies in the media, I invite you to join the Media Watch Rock-a-Hula, now in progress.
Much like Sun Lies and Mail Watch, the job (described in detail here) is to target outright lies, document them where possible (on your own site if you wish), and pursue a correction with vigour when circumstances call/allow for it.
While I expect this to be a modest-sized crowd with maybe a few dozen experienced/dedicated bloggers, writers and researchers on board at first, there are roles that pretty much anyone can play.
Yes, even you.
You could easily be that one person in a thousand with the right expertise, contacts, access or influence required to get a specific job done quickly, and if not, someone has to carry the pitchforks and kerosene.
Anything you do will be on a strictly voluntary basis and you can do it with or without a website. You’ll probably even learn a few things as we go along, and as natural talent groups form within the crowd (as they usually do), we can casually give birth to little beasties like the long-overdue Express Watch and more.
And it is with that (and that only) in mind that you should join me on Twitter, as that is all I plan to use it for:
More sign-up options (e.g. a mailing list) to follow. Comments and bloggage welcome.