Archive for the ‘The War on Stupid’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 27, 2009

Category: The War on Stupid

Callum Winton is a professional photographer who has recently started blogging, and was present at the G20 event where Ian Tomlinson was assaulted by a disguised police officer and later died.

I need to note from the outset that Winton appears to have been present for the entire event, but clearly did not witness the actual assault itself.

This footage taken by a member of the public and passed to the IPCC and the Guardian newspaper includes footage of the photographer, as he notes himself on his blog:

“New footage has been released of the Ian Tomlinson incident …. and in it plain as day is wee me taking pictures (long black coat, white shirt, blue jeans). http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2009/apr/21/g20-ian-tomlinson-new-video” – Callum Winton on his blog (source)

This first screen capture (00:31) shows Winton walking past Tomlinson as the police line advances toward them:

screen capture from video: click to play

The assault is not captured in this footage, but the camera swings around just in time to catch Tomlinson hitting the ground, and to show that Winton’s view of Tomlinson is blocked by a building/pillar. This second screen capture (00:49 and 01:05) and shows Winton seemingly unaware of Tomlinson’s assault as he turns away to inspect his camera:

screen capture from video: click to play

Note how Callum Winton is oblivious to the crowd’s reaction to the event.

Note also that the police are herding the public, which leads to the assault preceding Tomlinson’s collapse.

The first Tomlinson video to be released will help you to better appreciate these aspects and the general surroundings/mood at the time of the assault.

Also, please keep in mind that something between 3 to 5 minutes passes (timeline) before Tomlinson collapses after walking off in the same direction as Winton.

So, time passes, and Tomlinson collapses. Callum Winton does not witness the collapse, but happens across the prone figure of Tomlinson. He takes some pictures, notices the man is not well, then goes back to the police line and alerts them to Tomlinson’s condition:

“When I was there I found a man that had collapsed. I took a couple of pics of him and then I realised he was in trouble. So I ran and got the police, but by the time we got back I think he’d passed away.” – Callum Winton on his blog (source)

Callum Winton then returns to the scene of Tomlinson’s collapse at the same time as the police.

Compare the picture taken upon his return showing the woman protestor treating Tomlinson to this other video provided to the Guardian newspaper, where four things can be seen in quick succession:

00:10 – The woman protestor treating Tomlinson is moved away by police, who proceed to treat Tomlinson themselves

00:18 – A single clear (probably plastic) bottle is thrown, angering and dismaying the crowd

00:23 – Callum Winton, now on the other side of Tomlinson, can be seen no more than 12-15ft feet from where that single missile landed (after striking a police officer on the arm at about waist height)

00:25 – Mr ‘Back The Fuck Up’ swings into action, making it clear to those not within immediate earshot that someone is hurt. The crowd is unhappy, but eager to cooperate. No other missiles are captured in the footage.

It is at this stage that we turn to a Sun article published the day after this event.

Callum Winton appears to be the single source for this entire article, pictures and all, though when he blogs about it, he appears to be quite surprised:

“A new day and a new surprise. One of the pics I took of the man last night was used by The Sun newspaper on pg.6″ – Callum Winton on his blog (source)

(Note – Mr Winton later blogs that he intends to donate the “fair price for any freelance images they’ve used” to charity.)

The best I can make out from what’s been published by The Sun, and what’s been published and claimed by Callum Winton, is that a Sun reporter took a statement at some stage and Winton was unaware that he was doing so and/or was unaware that the man taking it was a Sun reporter or somehow connected to that newspaper. However it happened, Callum Winton winds up as the only named witness in a short article also containing his pictures:

Keen tabloid observers will note the headline that might suggest to casual observers that it was the bottles themselves that killed Tomlinson.

Also, take note of the claim that beer bottles and cans were thrown, as we’ll be getting back to this shortly:

The Sun – Man dies as bottles lobbed at rescuers (2 Apr, 2009)

POLICE were battered with beer bottles and cans as they desperately tried to save a dying man at the height of the G20 riots in London last night.

The casualty, believed to be in his mid-40s, was knocked to the floor amid the mob near the Bank of England.

But when cops struggled through the crowd to reach him, they were pelted with missiles. They finally got to him and set up a cordon as two ambulances rushed to the scene.

Officers gave the man mouth-to-mouth before paramedics tried in vain to save him.

Photographer Callum Winton, 37, said: “A guy was lying on the ground. His eyes were glazed over, he didn’t look at all well.

“I told the police and they tried to reach him — but were being forced back by the protesters. There were bottles and missiles raining down on them.”

The man, shaven headed and wearing a Millwall FC top with a grey T-shirt over the top, died at the scene.

Callum added: “Police were trying to break up the crowd, which was getting out of control, throwing things at buildings.

“Officers charged and pushed them back to get them away from buildings. It was chaos.”

Please take care to note that while this article does so poorly and is prone to misinterpretation, it does relate a sequence of a events where police were pelted with multiple missiles prior to their treatment of Tomlinson, and not during as some people have been suggesting.

The police, for example, claimed at one stage that they felt compelled to move Mr Tomlinson because of the missiles thrown during his treatment:

“The officers took the decision to move him as during this time a number of missiles – believed to be bottles – were being thrown at them.” – Met statement (source)

And Callum Winton made a similar claim on his weblog on the day of the event:

screen capture from Callum's blog

“I took [this picture] while the police were working on reviving the man amid flying bottles and breaking glass.” – Callum Winton on his blog (source)

At or about the same time that Callum Winton was taking this picture (large version), the video footage described above showing the cordon/treatment of Tomlinson was being captured from almost directly behind him:

screen capture from video: click to play

Callum Winton is unlikely to have seen and heard something very different to what was captured on video here, because as Winton himself has confirmed via email, he is in the foreground of the video footage while looking at the same event (i.e. he sees and hears the almost the same visual and audio information that the camera records).

That video footage shows a single clear bottle being thrown. That bottle does not appear to smash on impact, and is most likely plastic from what we can see/hear of the footage.

The police were certainly not “working on reviving the man amid flying bottles and breaking glass”, unless the mood changed quite suddenly after this footage was taken just in time for Callum Winton to capture the image he claims to have taken “amid flying bottles and breaking glass” (that doesn’t actually show any flying bottles or breaking/broken glass) just before the police moved Tomlinson to avoid the “number* of missiles” being thrown a them.

(*People sometimes forget that ‘one’ is a number.)

I’ve since emailed Callum Winton and asked him about a few of these conflicts and inconsistencies:

1. Three times he avoided answering a specific question about him being the likely/implied source of the claim that beer bottles and cans were thrown. He would not confirm or deny being the source of this claim, but I should point out that it’s just as likely that this was added as (ahem) a dramatic touch by someone at The Sun with an active if limited imagination and/or an anti-protestor agenda. (Callum Winton’s statements on his blog also make it clear that he did not see Tomlinson being ‘knocked down’ by the mob or anyone else.)

2. Callum Winton claimed that “3 Bottles were thrown. No cans.” and that “they were thrown and hit the building above our heads so that we were showered in glass.” He also pointed out, as he did in his statement to The Sun, that “all the protestors turned against the people throwing them shouting at them to stop as the police medics were trying to help Mr.T”, so while he appears to be describing the same events seen in this video, there are a number of glass missiles that should be visible and audible (according to his account), but are not.

3. I say ‘glass missiles‘ because Mr Winton also stated that he did not actually see any missiles in their pre-impact state. He could only say that “it was glass in one form or another” and “solid like bottles”. So The Sun article opens with a paragraph stating that; “police were battered with beer bottles and cans”… but the only named witness in that article did not see any cans thrown and was not in a position to identify any missile as a beer bottle specifically, or even as a glass bottle generally.

Mr Winton had nothing of relevance to add after seeing the video footage that casts so much doubt on his version of events, but he did take the time to assure me that it was suddenly none of my business, and that if I wished to speak with him further it would have to be on a professional basis:

“I’m a working photographer, so if you want a couple of hours of my time then you can book me for a portrait session. You bring bottles and I’ll bring a camera ;o)” – Callum Winton

I think that last part may have been a joke, but being a humourless lefty I can’t really be sure.

Anyway, just between you and me and everyone else who thinks this is their business, I suspect that Callum Winton might be a little bit confused.

I don’t mean that in a nasty ‘mental’ tag way, I mean… well, just take a look at this account of Winton’s as related by The Sun:

(Do keep in mind that the police line Winton returns to is in the process of herding the crowd as part of a kettling operation, and that they drove Tomlinson before them after one of their number had assaulted him. In other words, the police have contributed to Tomlinson’s condition, and created the circumstances that allegedly make it difficult to reach him. All of this applies regardless of what is thrown where and when.)

But when cops struggled through the crowd to reach him, they were pelted with missiles. They finally got to him and set up a cordon as two ambulances rushed to the scene… Photographer Callum Winton, 37, said: “A guy was lying on the ground. His eyes were glazed over, he didn’t look at all well. I told the police and they tried to reach him — but were being forced back by the protesters. There were bottles and missiles raining down on them.” – Callum Winton as quoted by The Sun

Now, this statement and the way it’s presented/introduced allows for (and appears to specifically, if clumsily, describe) circumstances where multiple glass missiles and/or bottles were thrown and/or police were impeded to some extent some distance from Tomlinson, before he was surrounded and treated by police. But remember that the day before it was published, Callum Winton had written on his weblog that he had witnessed this barrage of missiles during the period in which he was surrounded/treated by police:

“I took [this picture] while the police were working on reviving the man amid flying bottles and breaking glass.” – Callum Winton on his blog (source)

The evidence would suggest that Callum missed the assault and the collapse, but then happened across the (lone?) prone figure of Ian Tomlinson, took a few pictures, went to get help, witnessed the smashing of bottles at some stage some distance away from Tomlinson, before returning to witness the treatment of Tomlinson by police, seeing a single plastic bottle thrown at that moment and later compressing/conflating the two events to unfortunate effect.

The “beer bottles and cans” are likely to be a fanciful addition to the tale courtesy of the tabloid press, but it is equally possible that Callum Winton registered the way Ian Tomlinson looked or smelled (and/or the people around him talking of Tomlinson’s drunken state) on some level, conscious or not, and simply added the word ‘beer’ to ‘bottle’ without even thinking about what this might imply.

Winton had not witnessed the assault and did not even register the crowd’s reaction to it (which is a likely cause of any extraordinary disturbance Winton describes when he goes to fetch the police from the same location where police have stood by after one of their own assaulted a member of the public).

Further, Winton appears to be a stranger to the lifestyle of Ian Tomlinson and your typical socially-conscious protestor**. It would be very easy for a man in his position to confuse, blur or totally misunderstand the relationship between an apparently drunken man and a crowd that appears (to him) to be angry for no good reason.

(**Note – on the latter, he has consistently described the day as “the G20 riots” in his communication with me.)

So please understand that I’m not judging or demonising Mr Winton, but I really think that he should spend some time thinking about the statements he has volunteered to the newspapers and to the IPCC, and seriously considering clarifying them, at least to the extent that they don’t appear quite so contradictory.

And I’m not going to hold my breath, but The Sun really needs to withdraw that claim that “police were battered with beer bottles and cans as they desperately tried to save a dying man” if they can’t produce a witness or evidence to back it up.

Ditto for any implication that he was “knocked to the floor amid the mob” by anyone but a policeman.








Posted by Tim Ireland at April 21, 2009

Category: The War on Stupid

Channel 4 – Police badge-covering condemned

The chief inspector of police describes some of the behaviour of police officers at the G20 protests as “unacceptable”.

Taking questions from MPs on the home affairs select committee, Mr O’Connor also said it was “totally unacceptable” for police officers to conceal their number IDs, as several of them appeared to be doing during the protests.

But London Mayor Boris Johnson has been defending the overall police handling of the protests.

Boris link here.

I think it’s entirely fair to expect an inquiry into the police not wearing badge numbers, the frequency with which this happened on the day and in general, and the possible causes behind it. Ditto for the known use of unnecessary force and the not-unrelated use of ‘kettling’ as a tactic.

Also, most of the negative PR concerning the police has resulted from their own efforts to skew the debate!








Posted by Tim Ireland at April 20, 2009

Category: The War on Stupid

Bishopsgate Police Station (via)

Bishopsgate Police Station. Bishopsgate Police Station. Bishopsgate Police Station.

(more…)








Posted by Tim Ireland at April 17, 2009

Category: The War on Stupid

BBC – G20 death was not heart attack: A police officer has been interviewed under caution for manslaughter after a new post-mortem overturned the cause of Ian Tomlinson’s death… Now a fresh examination has found he died of abdominal haemorrhage, not a heart attack, as originally thought. Lawyers for the family said the new post-mortem raised the likelihood of a manslaughter charge… “Dr Cary’s opinion is that the cause of death was abdominal haemorrhage. The cause of the haemorrhage remains to be ascertained. Dr Cary accepts that there is evidence of coronary atherosclerosis but states that in his opinion its nature and extent is unlikely to have contributed to the cause of death.” … The [coroner Dr Cary’s] statement concluded that both the opinions remained provisional and subject to further investigations and tests. In a response, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said: “Following the initial results of the second post mortem, a Metropolitan police officer has been interviewed under caution for the offence of manslaughter as part of an ongoing nquiry into the death of Ian Tomlinson.”

As per the last post, I’m going to need a moment. With you shortly.

Newcomers to this (if there are any) will want to start here, check this category for more, and watch this video:

UPDATE – People are going to be very angry about this, but I want to stress that there is something here that has not changed, and I’m going to use a comment I made before this latest coroner’s statement was issued to help others appreciate it:

[Please understand that I normally quote and link to sources, but this was a rare political debate at the site involved, such things are generally (if gently) discouraged at that site, and I’m not entirely sure if “I told you so, Stan!” is a place that I want to go to.]

forum grab

There were multiple assaults at the G20 protest events. Most of them resulted from the practice known as ‘kettling’, which is claimed to have a calming effect of crowds, but appears to be used to justify the use of violence against protestors… whether that’s at an individual or institutional level in unknown at this point.

(One peek at the medic laying into protestors with a baton from behind the police line is enough to make many worry about the state of Teh State, but further images show a fellow officer trying to restrain him showing that some parts of the system are still working as they should.)

Further, we also have video evidence of two officers clearly abusing/exceeding their authority, and both of these officers had obscured badge numbers.

The officer who back-handed and batoned the woman the day after Tomlinson died was wearing epaulette covers designed for this purpose:

what a guy

None of this has changed.

But a full, undiluted and independent inquiry into both practices should now be regarded as a certainty. We shouldn’t have to march on any police stations to get it.

[Let’s hear it announced in very good time, please, police and government peeps. Don’t make us stalk chase you.]








Posted by Tim Ireland at April 14, 2009

Category: The War on Stupid

Go look for yourself… it starts at 3:47 and actually gets worse:

YouTube – G20 Protest April 2nd 09

I’ll be back shortly to comment.

UPDATE – Still absorbing the video. Waiting to calm down. Have some pertinent information:

Telegraph – Met investigates new claims of policeman hitting G20 woman

The Metropolitan officer, who has his identification number covered up*, appears to slap the woman across the face before taking out his baton and hitting her on the legs.

The incident happened a day after another officer pushed over newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson, who died of a suspected heart attack shortly after.

[*My emphasis. I have been bitching about this very thing for a while now. We have yet to hear anyone from the Met or the CoL police or the IPCC condemning the practice or even expressing concern at the allegations evidence that it is happening.]

Obviously no one gave the Hill Street Blues speech that morning. Or maybe they did and it was like; “Hey, let’s be pro-active out there!”

UPDATE – Oh dear. In the HSB clip I chose, Sergeant Phil Esterhaus doesn’t sign off with his usual “Hey, let’s be careful out there”… instead he uses the alternative; “Let’s do it to them before they do it to us!”

Now, to business:

We are looking at a kettling in progress. See the photographer trying to leave at 3:20 (i.e. move from the enclosed area to where the press are free to move…to anywhere but the enclosed area unless they want some, too).

The results speak for themselves. As does the CoL officer who urges the media to turn away from a seeing-to or two with the classic; “There’s nothing to see here, is there?”

Yes, there bloody well is something to see there; a second apparent case of assault involving yet another officer with obscured badge numbers. Even your most gung-ho armchair capitalist would have to admit that it’s not the smartest public relations move, at least.

UPDATE – The angle of the video doesn’t make it clear if he slaps her face or chest, so there may be some debate about that if the far right bloggers out there have sufficient protein left in their bodies to lift their aching arms to their keyboards.

If faced with such a debate, it’s easy enough to settle, because the defenders of kettling would have you think that it has a calming effect. So, keeping in mind that the idea is to keep members of the public calm:

You’re a young woman outside a police cordon expressing concern to a police officer about the treatment of a man inside a police cordon.

So, where do you want it; face or tits?

(Well, it’s your fault you swore, you little firecracker. You was asking for it, wasn’t ya?)

UPDATE – Here’s our man. Note the fetching epaulette covers.

what a guy

Eyewitness account by the photographer:

During the afternoon of the 2nd April 2009 on Threadnedle Street near the Bank of England I witnesed the police officer in the photos on this page attack a woman with his telescopic baton. The attack was startling because it was apparently unprovoked. It was also surprising because the police officer concerned is a very large man of perhaps 15 stone, while the woman was very small, perhaps 5’3″ tall. He stepped forwards from a police line and beat the woman hard using both forehand and backhand strokes. I estimate that he hit her between 3 and 5 times. As can be seen in the photographs the officer did not have his number visible. The woman appeared very brave and did not openly show pain.(source)

On YouTube and Indymedia, where these and other photos can be seen, there are a number of claims that this officer’s badge number is or was AB42, but there’s no proof of that at this stage, the IPCC is aware and the need for a man/witch-hunt** is unlikely.

Now let’s hear some noises about how shocking it is that a police officer would hide his/her identity in this way, please. Anyone in authority will do; just a little gasp of disbelief for the cameras and you can be on your way.

[**Mmmmmm… manwich hunt.]

UPDATE – As has just been mentioned under comments:

PA – G20 ‘attack’ officer suspended

Better. Certainly faster. Not much stronger.

I want to start hearing some seriously reassuring messages about this hidden badge number nonsense. Good to see the Lib Dems at least are asking questions. Now all we need are those answers.

UPDATE (15 Apr) – Pardon me if I seem ungrateful, but it’s about bloody time:

BBC – Police begin G20 tactics review

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has asked Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) to review policing tactics. Denis O’Connor will conduct the review after two alleged assaults by police during the G20 protests in London… Sir Paul also stressed all uniformed officers must wear shoulder identification numbers so they can be easily identifiable by the public… Sir Paul said: “It is also the case that a number of complaints have been raised in relation to the tactic of containment and as to whether this achieves that balance. I want to be reassured that the use of this tactic remains appropriate and proportionate. Separately, I have already expressed my concern that the video footage of some police actions are clearly disturbing and should be thoroughly investigated. As well as the post-event investigation into those responsible for violence and disorder, I have also ensured that footage in police possession is reviewed to identify any other matters of individual police conduct that may warrant investigation.” He added that uniformed police officers should be identifiable at all times by their shoulder identification numbers. “The public has a right to be able to identify any uniformed officer whilst performing their duty.”








Posted by Tim Ireland at April 14, 2009

Category: The War on Stupid

Guardian – Police watchdog chief wrong to say no CCTV in area of Ian Tomlinson assault: This morning the IPCC initially stood by Hardwick’s claims. “Mr Hardwick said there was no available CCTV footage of the incident and we stand by that. Any footage that is available, whether taken by police or by the public, will be fully investigated as and when it becomes available,” it said. However, at 10.30am, after pictures were published showing cameras in the area, the IPCC changed its stance. “At this point, Mr Hardwick believed that he was correct in this assertion – we now know this may not be accurate,” the IPCC said in a statement. “There are cameras in the surrounding area.” The IPCC would not comment on why, almost two weeks after Tomlinson’s death and one week after it said its investigators had pieced together his last moments by looking at “many hours of CCTV”, Hardwick had been mistaken about the locations of cameras.

Tch. I’ve already pointed out that this is how conspiracy theories start out, haven’t I? Being thorough and attentive and observant is the simplest part of almost every role related to law enforcement. The public deserves better.








Posted by Tim Ireland at April 10, 2009

Category: The War on Stupid

Apr 01 2009 19:37 Police block ambulance(s) going to aid Ian Tomlinson

As with the images purchased by the Daily Mail and Sun newspapers that some bloggers place so much faith in, we only have the cameraman’s testimony and the footage to go on here, but it certainly appears to be in same time and location as the Tomlinson assault and aftermath, and at the very least it shows (as this earlier scene does) that initial reports of protestors impeding medical teams could not have been further from the truth.








Posted by Tim Ireland at April 9, 2009

Category: The War on Stupid

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:

The Guardian – Policing: Death and denials

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…

JackP – Ian Tomlinson: Metropolitan Police kill innocent man AGAIN

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:

Guardian – G20 death: Met police officer breaks cover

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:

Independent – New evidence of police attacks on G20 victim

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?








Posted by Tim Ireland at April 8, 2009

Category: The War on Stupid

police medic: click for original

“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).








Posted by Tim Ireland at April 8, 2009

Category: The War on Stupid

“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.

Meanwhile, Paul Staines is clearly in a joking mood, but not of a mind to speak about this issue specifically.

UPDATE – (11.20) – Also, do read Mr Eugenides on the above Quaequam post.








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