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G20: new evidence

Posted by helen on Thu 9 Apr 2009 at 14:19

I've been continuing to add links and quotes to my previous post, trying to keep everything in one place. I do want to call attention to a couple of things though.

You probably all know by now that yesterday evening, additional footage was released of Ian Tomlinson's assault, clearly showing the full-arm swing with a baton which was directed at him from behind. The officer in question has now handed himself in.

This is positive. It means that people are beginning to accept the undeniable reality of disproportionate and unprovoked police violence on that day. It means that the individual accepts culpability, perhaps even feels remorse - although that seems unlikely given the late hour of his confession. And it means that justice, of a sort, will hopefully be served.

But it's also worrying, because if all the blame falls on a single officer or officers, it may deflect attention from everything else that happened. Ian Tomlinson wasn't the only person to be assaulted and injured by police. The peaceful protesters who were assaulted were no less innocent. Hell, even the protesters who started shouting and shoving might have had a point, after being threatened and unlawfully detained for hours with no food, water or medication.

Ian Tomlinson's death, while tragic, is not the whole story. I am glad that this case is being given the attention it deserves. But it's not the only case. The problem here is systemic.

Every time photos or video is released which corroborates the eye witness accounts, which have been many and consistent since April 1, it makes the rest of those accounts seem more plausible.

Eye-witnesses claimed that Ian Tomlinson was shoved and batoned by police.

Eye-witnesses claimed that police made free with their batons, attacking unarmed people who were protesting peacefully.

Eye-witnesses claimed that in the Bishopsgate kettle on the afternoon of April 1st, police medics were among the most violent with their batons, reaching over the front line to attack protesters.

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.
(from Indymedia, Saturday 04 April 2009)

Police medics doing exactly this can be seen in this video, 2:07-2:09. (Look out for the green patches they're wearing.)

Also in this video can be seen police baton-charging seated, unarmed protesters - at the Bishopsgate demonstration on April 1st (05:30-05:44). Climate Camp had not been charged yet; this was in broad daylight, in the middle of the kettle outside the Bank of England. This was people responding to the police assault passively and peacefully by choosing to sit down, have a smoke and look them in the eyes. They were attacked with batons and shields.

So, while I haven't yet seen any video evidence confirming the stories from Climate Camp on the evening of the 1st (beyond the footage of the initial swoop), an increasing number of independent sources are telling the same story about Climate Camp. And thus far, the eye-witnesses have been proved more right than wrong. Their accounts need to be taken seriously by the press, and by an independent investigation on the G20 policing.

I'll be at the G-20 Meltdown memorial and protest this Saturday, marching for our democratic right to protest without fear of police brutality. It'd be good to see you there.