I wrote the other day about the man who died during the G20 protests. It was known he had not been protesting, yet had been ‘kettled’ along with innocent bystanders and protesters alike, and collapsed and died on the scene. What wasn’t known was that the police had attacked him first:
The man who died during last week’s G20 protests was “assaulted” by riot police shortly before he suffered a heart attack, according to witness statements received by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Investigators are examining a series of corroborative accounts that allege Ian Tomlinson, 47, was a victim of police violence in the moments before he collapsed near the Bank of England in the City of London last Wednesday evening. Three witnesses have told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson was attacked violently as he made his way home from work at a nearby newsagents. One claims he was struck on the head with a baton.
Photographer Anna Branthwaite said: “I can remember seeing Ian Tomlinson. He was rushed from behind by a riot officer with a helmet and shield two or three minutes before he collapsed.” Branthwaite, an experienced press photographer, has made a statement to the IPCC.
Another independent statement supports allegations of police violence. Amiri Howe, 24, recalled seeing Mr Tomlinson being hit “near the head” with a police baton. Howe took one of a sequence of photographs that show a clearly dazed Mr Tomlinson being helped by a bystander.
A female protester, who does not want to be named but has given her testimony to the IPCC, said she saw a man she later recognised as Tomlinson being pushed aggressively from behind by officers. “I saw a man violently propelled forward, as though he’d been flung by the arm, and fall forward on his head.
“He hit the top front area of his head on the pavement. I noticed his fall particularly because it struck me as a horrifically forceful push by a policeman and an especially hard fall; it made me wince.”
More eyewitness accounts:
Despite what the disgusting tabloids would have you believe, despite what the City of London Police would have you believe, this was not a death which had no cause and no context. Ian Tomlinson by all accounts did not have a random heart attack which was noone’s fault, and which could never have been prevented. He was arbitrarily attacked by the police, and there’s plenty of evidence now that they attacked people indiscriminately:
– an Al-Jazeera TV journalist gets a vicious demonstration of riot police power;
– the entirely peaceful Climate Camp protesters (who didn’t even fight back) are brutalised without cause:
However given the Met’s proclivity for violence and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)’s long track record of exonerating palpably guilty officers from blame, I shouldn’t expect anyone to face justice for causing Ian Tomlinson’s death. I would imagine the best we can hope for is for the Met’s tactic of ‘kettling’ to be ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights. Maybe if policing tactics were imposed which were both humane and which presumed the humanity of protesters from the outset, people like Tomlinson wouldn’t have to die.