Tag Archives: police brutality

Corporate Police Hits Back!

Sir Ken Jones, the head of ACPO has hit back against the chair of the IPCC, who said the numerous complaints he had received about Met police brutality had raised ‘serious concerns’:

Sir Ken Jones described the approach to tacking demonstrations as “proportionate” despite a series of videos which have provoked anger at officers’ actions.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Sir Ken said: “Mr Hardwick is entitled of course to his own opinions but I think we need to do our research and realise just how well this activity is done in our country.

“I can’t find any other country that doesn’t use water cannon, CS gas, rubber bullets. Our approach is proportionate and, in fact, has delivered on many other occasions.

“But on the question of a review, yes, Acpo has has welcomed that, but I think we need to do it with some objectivity and have a broader perspective than I have seen in the last few days. We need to make sure that we don’t condemn the many for a problem created by the few.”

Sir Ken denied that he was trying to excuse the activities of individual officers, some of whom were alleged to have hidden their identity numbers.

“I’m not making an excuse. What I am saying is that the world is changing,” he said. “The way that some people come to these protests now, particularly in Europe, and offer violence to people, to property, to other legitimate protesters, and, yes, they came to attack the police, this has become an increasingly difficult job for us to pull off.

How ‘well done’ eh? So because we don’t use water cannon, CS gas or rubber bullets, that makes the Met’s behaviour ‘proportionate’? Nicely played. Of course that’s spin, it’s complete garbage, but at the same time it’s clearly going to be the police’s tactic in trying to get past this crisis. It’s a continuation of Tony Blair’s big lie from 9/11, that ‘because the world has changed, our approach needs to be harder, stronger and different’. Yet  the world has not changed, people’s motivations are unchanged, and in comparison with say the 1970s there’s very little protest at all – SOCPA legislation, trades union legislation and anti-terror measures have pretty much put paid to that without a baton being lifted! To suggest it’s increasingly difficult for the police to manage protest and dissent is completely ridiculous. David Hughes adds:

There was nothing proportionate about Ian Tomlinson being roughly pushed to the ground minutes before he collapsed and died. There was even less proportionality in the ugly spectacle of Nicola Fisher being given a back-handed slap across the face by a police officer who’d taken the trouble to conceal his number before he took out his baton and hit her with it. Other examples of heavy-handed (literally) police action are emerging by the day.

No one doubts that the police were subjected to immense provocation. I wouldn’t like to stand in a thin blue line and face a mass of protesters, some of them hell-bent on violence. While they are trained to respond in a measured way, it is blindingly obvious not all of them do and we would have a more sensible debate if people like Sir Ken recognised the fact.

And back to Sir Ken:

“And I think we just need to look at this in the round. I saw some of the footage last week of whole groups of officers being hemmed in. Nobody wants to talk about that now. Those officers behaved really well, they acted with restraint.”

Oh please, he doesn’t even appreciate the irony of his own words! What about the hundreds of protesters and members of the public who weren’t given any choice about being hemmed in by police for hours, without even the liberty to go to the toilet? His stance may be disgusting, but remember, as 45govt in the Telegraph article reminds us:

ACPO* is NOT, as most people believe, part of the Police of the UK, but a private for-profit advisory body staffed by serving and retired plods out to fill their pockets with lucrative govt contracts. A good example would be sending a huge bill for advising that the police brutality at the G20 was entirely proportionate, and we should thank our stars we weren’t all shot in the head. “That will be £200,000 please Minister – ta very much.”

*“The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
is an independent, professionally led strategic body. In the public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government and the Association of Police Authorities, ACPO leads and coordinates the direction and development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In times of national need ACPO – on behalf of all chief officers – coordinates the strategic policing response.”

It’s a case of corporate policing defending corporate policing. Insidious to say the least. We are in a mess.

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The Ian Tomlinson Affair Explodes

First he died of ‘natural causes’, after ‘no prior contact’ with the Metropolitan Police.

Then they ‘protected’ him from a ‘bottle throwing mob’.

Then we find out that they lied about everything. We find that the pathologist responsible for the initial post-mortem had a questionable background in just such scenarios involving the police. We find he was actually hit and shoved forcefully from behind by a Territorial Support Group (TSG) riot police officer, who had masked his features and removed his ID tags (as had many of his colleagues that day). We find the crowd posed no threat whatsoever either to them or Tomlinson.

(photo source)

Now we find Ian Tomlinson really died of an abdominal haemorrage. There is now evidence to link the police attack directly with his death – ‘kettling’ and a presumption of a lack of humanity of all protesters and those in the vicinity appears to have led directly to the manslaughter of an entirely innocent man.

The IPCC this afternoon said:

“Following the initial results of the second postmortem, a Metropolitan police officer has been interviewed under caution for the offence of manslaughter as part of an ongoing inquiry into the death of Ian Tomlinson.”

Get out of that one, apologists. I would however hope that should the investigation prove beyond doubt that the TSG officer caused his death, that he not be scapegoated. His behaviour was far from unique that afternoon – this is the fault of the Met as an institution, not one man.

Metropolitan Police: A Brutal Assault

They’re at it again, this time at the vigil in honour of Ian Tomlinson. Proportionate? You tell me:

(thanks to Paul Canning)

So he’s been suspended, which indicates they’re panicking. I see the Guardian says he’s a member of the territorial support group, as was his colleague who attacked Ian Tomlinson. Read this to see what the TSG are really like.

David Winnick MP, a member of the home affairs select committee, said last night the footage showed “more totally unacceptable” behaviour by a police officer.

He added: “The home secretary should make a statement about events at the G20 protests. That statement should include first and foremost Ian Tomlinson’s death and explain why police made a totally misleading statement about their contact with him.”

I’m betting she won’t, but it’s heartening to see some form of parliamentary insight finally making its voice heard, albeit without any action (yet).

Tomlinson Inquiry: Police Wavering

The fallout from Ian Tomlinson’s death at the G20 protests is continuing to grow in severity. The Independent Police Complaints Commission initially appointed the City of London Police to investigate what happened, however after the video of the police attack on him was released, this was clearly untenable:

Now:

Britain’s police watchdog is to remove the police from the investigation into the death of Ian Tomlinson during last week’s G20 protests and carry out its own independent inquiry, the Guardian has learned.

Earlier this week the Independent Police Complaints Commission appointed the City of London force to investigate the incident, despite its officers having been involved in policing the protest, instead of using its own investigators.

Video obtained by the Guardian of the minutes before Tomlinson’s death clearly shows City of London officers from the standing near the officer who attacked the newspaper seller. That officer is believed to be from the Metropolitan force.

The Metropolitan Police: A Brutal, Unaccountable Militia

(photo source: Guardian)

Guy Aitchison at Open Democracy offers a brilliant analysis of the Metropolitan Police’s brutal and perhaps criminal behaviour at the G20 protests last week:

Does Britain now have an aggressive system of policing that undermines the country’s democratic traditions by systematically intimidating and closing down any protest it does not consider ‘safe’? The way that the G20 protests were managed suggests that we do. In particular the policy of “kettling” is a deliberate form of indiscriminate, collective punishment of demonstrators committed to peaceful protest, which seems designed to frighten people from expressing their disapproval of a system that is now, even by its own admission, dysfunctional.  The development is part of a wider pattern of state authoritarianism not to speak of out-of-control policing. I was present in the City of London throughout Wednesday’s events. Here I give my account of the protests, and an overview of the reports about them, with some ideas on how we can re-claim our liberty from those who would undermine it through fear and bullying.

Since Wednesday April 1st there have been several first-hand accounts by protestors of the heavy handidness and, in many cases, brutality of the police’s approach to the protests at the Bank of England and Climate Camp. These have helped counter some of the all too predictable smears coming from sections of the mainstream media. There is now a strong case which says that not only did the police action raise serious civil liberties concerns; it was counter-productive, provoking violence and endangering the safety of peaceful protestors.

Continue reading here. And you really should.

Killed by the Metropolitan Police?

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.

London’s Police? Violent and Rubbish!

I have said it for years now – there is something fundamentally wrong with the Metropolitan Police. I say this not as an ‘agitator’ (whatever that is), nor as a demonstrator myself; I was alarmed at the way in which the pitifully tiny violent minority was playing up to the cameras on Wednesday, and decided not to become what was clearly part of the problem. I do however unwaveringly support the right to protest and believe it must be protected from those (like she who runs the Home Office) who would see it restricted to what suits them best. I also say this in the full knowledge that there were plenty of police during the day at the Bishopsgate Climate Camp protest who treated the entirely non-violent protesters well, with respect and with good humour. Given the relative difference in size between the ‘anti-bankers’ protest and the climate camp, this meant that during the day at least most of the demonstrators and most of the police behaved well.

Or did they?

Police tactics of containing thousands of people for several hours at the Bank of England protests and using batons against climate camp protesters were condemned yesterday as an infringement of the right to demonstrate.

In the aftermath of the G20 protests in the City of London, politicians, demonstrators and a former police officer raised concerns about the methods used by the Metropolitan police to control crowds of more than 5,000.

Eyewitnesses said hundreds of environmental demonstrators camping out along Bishopsgate in a peaceful protest during the day were cleared from the area aggressively by riot police with batons and dogs after nightfall on Wednesday.

The police had earlier said they would ask the protesters, whom they acknowledged were peaceful, to move as night fell. Commander Simon O’Brien, said his officers would be “politely and proportionately” asking campers to move on.

But one eyewitness, Martin Horwood, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, said dogs were used on protesters near the camp. James Lloyd, a legal adviser in the camp, said riot police forcefully cleared the area using batons around midnight.

“There was no announcement, the riot police just started moving forward very quickly from the south,” he said. “They were pushing everyone back, pushing forward quickly. They caused panic, people were screaming and shouting … There was a person in a wheelchair struggling to move, being pushed forcibly by them. It was totally disproportionate.”

(source)

So again the most peaceful protesters, as at their Kingsnorth protest last summer, are treated with violence and contempt by the police. But why would they change their tactics, when they were so successful with this segment of the day’s demonstrations? Why bring in the riot police of all units? Well it would seem strange if it were an isolated or unusual abuse, but it wasn’t. Initially their tactic of ‘kettling’ was used indiscriminately, ever more so as the day went on:

“Tactics to herd the crowd into a pen … have been criticised before, yet the police will not want groups spilintering away from the crowd,” (he wrote).

The containment was backed up at the Bank, first with mounted police and then with police dogs. As people were eventually allowed to leave at about 8pm, they were funnelled out down a narrow exit with a police officer grabbing them by the arm as though they were under arrest, again regardless of age or demeanour.

One officer, asked why people were not allowed to leave under their own steam, replied: “They might fall over.”

People were then asked for their name and address and required to have a photograph taken. They are not obliged to do so under the law, but those who refused were put back in the pen.

Neither the authoritarian manner nor the means of control are in their remit; they did so anyway. Polite? Proportionate? Not from the sounds of it. Yet they continued to do it because they were allowed:

Nearly eight years ago, on May Day 2001, a similar “kettle” operation was imposed in Oxford Circus for around seven hours. This led to a lengthy civil action, brought against the commissioner of the Met by one of those detained. In January this year, the law lords finally upheld the right of the police in this case to carry out such containment.

The upshot of the ruling and the police’s application of their “kettle” formula is that people thinking about embarking on demonstrations in the future may have to decide whether they want to be effectively locked up for eight hours without food or water and, when leaving, to be photographed and identified.

So it made no difference that the people ‘kettled’ weren’t a threat to anyone. Because the police were legally allowed to use the tactic (however abusively) they chose to do so. Was the crowd affected violent beforehand? By all accounts no, yet they increasingly became so because of the tactics used. Well done Metropolitan Police. Yet ‘kettling’ was the tip of the iceberg when it came to police abuse. Beth McGrath reports:

Within an hour of arriving, the same police who had stepped back and let me through closed in around the camp and refused to let anyone in or out. I then watched the police push forward into the crowd with a brutality that was not only shocking but utterly unnecessary. All the protesters put their hands in the air and sat down collectively on the road. Yet as the crowd lowered I saw a young man stagger back with his head split open, another boy with a broken nose, a girl next to me had been kicked between the legs.

People were badly hurt and the atmosphere spun into a frightened panic. A friend of mine from university who had come from Nottingham to join the camp just put his head in his hands and cried. This was the scene minutes after people had been allowed to wander into the camp without any warning of the planned police actions, or any chance to leave peacefully.

As they rolled in back-up police and black armoured riot vans, and as the police kicked and crushed people’s bikes, the protesters called out to them, and the onlooking bankers, up in their ivory towers, “This is not a riot!”. As their batons came down, legal observers called out to people to take the police numbers of those who had hurt protesters. En masse, the line of police all covered up their badges. It was a chilling show of a police force unaccountable to their own laws, and their own humanity. The police were indeed braced for violence, but most of that young crowd of protesters were not.

Explain to me someone how the Metropolitan Police can continue to act as a near-unaccountable militia. For that matter take a look at this.