When 4,00 people converged around The City of London to take part in the G20 Meltdown on April 1st, and voice their concerns over the current economic and climate situation, many did not foresee that the protests would not become something altogether more frightening and unsafe. Not unsafe due to violent protesters but because of the methods and tactics employed by the police force who surrounded us. Since that day, the general public now are more than familiar with the term kettling, and the protesters are all too aware of what it means to be kettled. The issues which arose from that day have centered on one thing: the British’s polices misuse of power, and riot – inciting tactics for dealing with protests – however peaceful or non violent the protest may be.
At best, the day would have provoked a necessary dialogue between the general public, the media, and the police force. Unfortunately, events and actions of the police led to a devastating outcome. Ian Tomlinson, a 47 year old newspaper seller, collapsed and died outside the Bank of England. He had suffered a heart attack. Ian had not even been part of the protests, but was simply trying to make his way home. For the first few days, details of his death were sketchy and many facts seemed to contradict each other. Most reports suggested that it was a simple and unfortunate case of a man having a heart attack, perhaps brought on by the ‘rioters’ around him. Here is the Metropolitan Polices statement issued a few hours after his death:
“A member of the public went to a police officer on a cordon in Birchin Lane junction with Cornhill to say that there was a man who had collapsed round the corner.
“That officer sent two police medics through the cordon line and into St Michael’s Alley where they found a man who had stopped breathing. They called for LAS support at about 19.30.
“The officers gave him an initial check and cleared his airway before moving him back behind the cordon line to a clear area outside the Royal Exchange Building where they gave him CPR.
“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. LAS took the man to hospital where he was pronounced dead.”
The police can no longer hide behind these falsehoods. A video obtained by The Guardian Newspaper clearly shows the man being attacked by a large number of police. The event seems shockingly unprovoked. He is seen walking, with the police, clad in riot gear, trailing him. Hands in his pockets, he is unprepared for the assault. The video makes for highly upsetting viewing. If there was a representation of the polices senseless and reprehensible treatment of the public on April 1st then this is it. The events in the video could not be more different to the account by the police.
This Saturday, 8th April, the original organisers of the G20 Meltdown will be leading a procession to protest the death of Ian Tomlinkson. It will assemble outside Bethnal Green Police Station at 11.30am, before setting off at 12 p.m. and laying flowers where he died, close to The Bank Of England. It is suggested that anyone marching wears black. Protesting the polices reprehensible behaviour is the only and best way to send a message to the British Police Force that their actions are not acceptable and cannot be tolerated in a democratic society.
Go to www.g-20meltdown.org for further details.