G20: The death of peaceful protest?

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Our civil liberties and human rights are infringed upon daily, by the politicians in charge they are seen as little more than obstacles to overcome. The police have proven that they cannot stop abusing the anti-terrorism powers they have been given yet they want more, and within the metropolitan police is a culture that has… * led to deaths in the past  * made where people go into police vans without a scratch on them and come out covered in bruises the norm * created abuses of terrorist powers where people are kept for several days without charge and released in other parts of the country with no money and no phone  * made it so that they will lie to the media, to the government, and to the public to cover up their crimes That is why on Mayday at 2pm we will be moving our protest from Trafalgar to outside the offices of New Scotland Yard at, we have 5 demands:

1 – A criminal investigation into the death of Ian Tomlinson and the immediate suspension of the officer responsible for his death

2 – An immediate ban of kettling by every police chief across the country and for government to subsequently make it illegal

3 – A Royal Commission into the policing of the recent protests and the abuse of anti-terrorism powers used prior to and during the protests

4 – An immediate end to the London wide application of section 44. The city houses 8 million and has millions more working and visiting every day, why are we all suspects?

5 – For Paul Stephenson to stand down from his position of head of the metropolitan police, he is new to the position but the buck lies with him for perpetuating the current injustices and culture within the met. The protests, the policing, the lies, the cover up, etc… all occurred under his watch and he must take ultimate responsibility.

There can no longer be any doubt that the police were responsible for Ian Tomlinson’s death. Video evidence released over the last couple of days show clearly he was the victim of a vicious assault moments before he died.

Undoubtedly, the police will try and spin the story about the one bad copper pumped up by a bad situation. However, this simply isn’t the case. The violence and brutality shown by the police last week was commonplace, with masked up riot cops wading into peaceful climate camp protesters with batons and boots.

Furthermore, the reaction of the other officers reveals how endemic and normalised this level of violence has become within the MET. Not one of the officers present made any effort to restrain their colleague – as I have sometimes seen them do on other occasions – not one checks to see whether he is okay. The FIT officers standing directly in front of Tomlinson carry on their conversation seemingly oblivious to the violence perpetrated in front of them.

The media, which last week showed continual footage of protesters confronting the police, has this week miraculously found their footage of people being attacked by baton wielding riot cops in side streets. However, there has been no attempt to link these two facts, and engage in the argument that the protesters were justified to fight back against this policing. There has been wide spread criticism of the police kettling people for hours without access to food, water or toilet facilities, yet there has been no suggestion that protesters were justified to use force to free themselves from this situation. Instead, media reports still insist these people were there just to cause trouble, without believing in any cause, and were nothing more than violent thugs.

Violent anarchists have been blamed for the policing operation, and it is likely the effects of the violence perpetrated against the police will be used to justify this appalling assault against a man who was walking away from the police with his hands in his pockets. However, anyone who believes the police wouldn’t have used such force against protesters if no one had fought back is naive, as events at the Kingsnorth climate camp last summer proved.

Protest policing has changed. Boundaries have blurred, and there is no distinction in the way the police treat different groups of demonstrators. Unauthorised protest is not tolerated, and is broken up, often with extreme force. People are made to feel like criminals simply for attending a protest, whether it be by FIT’s constant flash photography, arbitrary stop and searches , or by being pushed and beaten. Rightly or wrongly, if the climate camp seriously wanted to keep their space for twenty four hours, they would have needed burning barricades and a large supply of molotovs alongside their cake and bunting.

Everyone who resisted the police, whether violently or not, are brave compassionate people who were prepared to risk a hell of a lot just to have a presence on the streets of London. The people who did fight back showed we can successfully challenge police lines, and it is encouraging to see this new emerging militancy continuing.

Ian Tomlinson was not a demonstrator, but he could have been, and it is a chilling reminder of the risks we take simply by being in the vicinity of a protest. Furthermore, the nature of the police attack on him would not have been any more or less justified had he been a demonstrator.

Greece was recently set on fire when a protester was killed. The police, terrified of civil unrest during the G20, lied in order to repress the collective rage which would have been expressed on the streets. They are hoping by the news being drip fed a week later this anger will be suppressed, but we musn’t let this happen.

Superintendent Hartshorn fabricated the “summer of rage” to scare people away from protests, and to justify massive police repression. Perhaps it’s time he finds out what a summer of rage really looks like.

Justice for Ian Tomlinson – Saturday 11th April, 11am, Bethnal Green police station.

Brighton Mayday – Monday 4th May, 12 noon.

Fitwatch e-mail: defycops@yahoo.co.uk Homepage: http://www.fitwatch.blogspot.com

2 Comments

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2 responses to “G20: The death of peaceful protest?

  1. Good call. I just hope that this is not scapegoated onto one officer. This was the inevitable (if ‘regrettable’) product of a strategy refined over years, one which was developed with the connivance of all current senior officers.

    It was also one incident of brutality among many others which did not get the same attention only because they did not lead to fatalities.

    The individual frontline officers should be held accountable for their actions; their operational commanders should be held accountable for their orders, direction and complicity; and the senior levels of management should be held accountable for playing chess games with ordinary people’s lives. In addition, their political masters must pay.

    We cannot trust to luck that the IPCC will undertake a thorough, competent, wide-reaching investigation, so we as citizens must make sure that those responsible, in big ways and small ways, by action and through inaction, are made to account for what happened (and for what continues to happen) and where appropriate to pay for it.

    (Apologies for C+P):

    Can you help identify the cops who witnessed the assault of Ian Tomlinson?

    If you were in London that day and took photographs, you may have snapped one or other of the 18+ officers who were in the immediate vicinity of Ian Tomlinson’s assault at some other time.

    You may even recognise a regular from your pub, a neighbour, a copper off your local area.

    If you do, please don’t just leave it be.

    If enough people – ordinary people, people like us – take the time and trouble to hold those responsible (through their action or their inaction) for the death of Ian Tomlinson, force them to come forward and be held accountable, then we might – just might – help prevent this happening again, only next time to your father, my mother, our friends, our loved ones. Don’t leave it to the IPCC.

    FITwatch is also working hard to identify any Forward Intelligence Team types there in the events which were shortly followed by Ian Tomlinson’s death at the age of 47.

  2. Pingback: Hillsborough disaster Unanswered questions: « project-sheffield

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