Posts Tagged ‘G20’

Scotland Yard last night suspended a second officer over brutality allegations after fresh video surfaced showing him striking a woman who was attending a vigil in honour of Ian Tomlinson, the man who died after being attacked by police at the G20 protests.

The officer, a sergeant, was the second person from the Territorial Support Group to be suspended in the last week.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission announced it would investigate the alleged attack by the TSG sergeant, the second time in a week the police watchdog has announced an investigation after media revelations.

The footage and series of photographs were taken at the Bank of England the day after Tomlinson’s death. The latest footage appears to show the officer hitting a woman across the face with the back of his hand, and saying: “Go away.”

The woman, clutching a carton of orange juice and digital camera, remonstrates with the officer. He is then seen drawing a baton from his pocket and striking the woman on her legs. The officer’s badge number was concealed.

“People were there for the vigil out of respect to remember Ian Tomlinson,” said Tristan Woodwards, 25, who caught the incident on film. “Police officers have to be held accountable.”

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.”

The first officer to be suspended came forward after the Guardian last week published footage of his clash with Tomlinson. It is believed the officer suspended last night had not come forward, but Scotland Yard would not say how he had been identified.

The new claims of brutality came as the chair of the IPCC faced renewed criticism after he wrongly claimed there was “no CCTV footage” in the area where police allegedly assaulted the newspaper vendor before he died.

The IPCC said yesterday that Nick Hardwick had been mistaken when he said there were no security cameras around Royal Exchange Passage, a pedestrianised area near the Bank of England where an officer struck Tomlinson with a baton and pushed him to the ground.

Tomlinson, 47, had his hands in his pockets and his back to police when the attack occurred around 7.20pm on 1 April. He collapsed and died moments later.

The IPCC is investigating whether the attack caught on footage obtained by the Guardian last week was an isolated incident or the culmination of a series of unprovoked assaults on Tomlinson. The father of nine had been trying to walk home when he was confronted by police at the G20 protests.

A first postmortem concluded that Tomlinson had died of a heart attack. The results of a second examination is expected within days.

Hardwick said on Thursday there was no CCTV evidence of alleged police assaults on Tomlinson. “We don’t have CCTV footage of the incident,” he told Channel 4 news. “There is no CCTV footage – there were no cameras in the locations where he was assaulted.”

Yesterday, after pictures were published showing cameras in the area, the IPCC said: “[On Thursday] Mr Hardwick believed that he was correct in this assertion – we now know this may not be accurate. There are cameras in the surrounding area.”

An IPCC spokesperson said while there may have been cameras in the area, that did not mean the watchdog had discovered footage of any alleged assaults.

The IPCC would not comment on why, a week after it said “investigators have looked at many hours of CCTV”.

City of London police manage and control the public CCTV cameras in the area, including at least one that overlooks Royal Exchange Passage.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the rights group Liberty, said she had “serious concerns” about the IPCC’s leadership, whose confusion over CCTV was “very worrying for the investigation”.

“You have to ask the question: Where are they getting their information from? Are they taking [City of London] police at their word?

“If the IPCC can’t grip this investigation and win back the public confidence that was lost in the Jean Charles de Menezes case, then I think patience will run out.”

There were at least two cameras on or beside Royal Exchange Passage. One, on the corner of Threadneedle Street, is a City of London police camera that can turn through 360 degrees.


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The last thing either the government or the Metropolitan police wanted, on the day that Britain played host to the G20 leaders last week, was a death during the demonstrations being staged simultaneously in the City of London. So perhaps it should be no surprise that initially the fate of Ian Tomlinson, the man who died in the midst of the main protest close to the Bank of England, was barely noted.

Although the Guardian reported the death on its front page, almost all the coverage elsewhere ignored it completely or concentrated on a version of events that suggested that the police’s only connection with Tomlinson had been to try to rescue him from a baying mob of anarchists. The police were “pelted with bottles by a screaming mob” (the Mirror) or “pelted with bottles as a medical team tried to revive a demonstrator” (Mail). Tomlinson had died “after being ‘caught among the mob'” (Telegraph). The BBC TV night-time news the following day made no mention of the death in its main bulletin.

The general overview of the demonstrations in the media was either one of mockery of the protesters or the implication that the City had had a fortuitous escape from complete anarchy. The Sun reported that “foaming at the mouth and smelling of stale cider, packs of protesters lurch(ed) through the city”. An occasional commentator was wheeled on to say that the police had not used tear gas or water cannon, as they would almost certainly have done in other countries. The implicit suggestion was that the protesters should be grateful that the authorities in Britain are not like, say, the neo-fascist thugs of the Genoa police who methodically battered defenceless protesters in the wake of the 2001 anti-globalisation protests in Italy. Certainly there were many good-natured police officers on the ground who tried to defuse the situation, and who were as baffled as anyone by their superiors’ rigid tactics of containment, or “kettling”, that caused so much confusion and tension on the day. At the same time, as many, many witnesses have reported, there were other officers hyped up for a ruckus who behaved, particularly at the Climate Camp in nearby Bishopsgate, after the cameras had departed, with the same sort of random, out of control, violence as that attributed to protesters.

Most of last week’s demonstrators were not born when Kevin Gately died a few miles away in Red Lion Square in 1974. A young student from Warwickshire university, he was taking part in a demonstration against the National Front. Lord Scarman conducted an inquiry into what had happened but reached no conclusions. Five years later, schoolteacher and activist Blair Peach died in another anti-racist protest in Southall. In neither case, despite public inquiries, was the truth of what took place ever officially established. One of the problems in both those high-profile cases was that witnesses’ versions of events differed dramatically and there was little in the way of objective evidence to prove what many of the demonstrators believed had happened.

We live in very different times now. One of the striking aspects of the 1 April demonstration was that, wherever you turned, someone seemed to be pointing a camera. The police were videoing from rooftops and windows, their spotters pointing out suspects. The protesters were cheerfully taking souvenir shots of themselves with mobile phones on the steps of the Bank of England. The media were there in numbers. The local CCTV cameras are also, it appears, always with us.

Some of the miles and miles of footage that was shot has now been given to the Guardian and shared across the internet. It shows Tomlinson, who was not a demonstrator but one of the many people unable to leave the melee, being thrown to the ground a few moments before he died of a heart attack. Far from the police coming under attack, at this stage Tomlinson is only cared for by a demonstrator. Do the police have their own film of what happened?

What is also striking is that, so soon after the inquest into the death of the Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, assumptions about a suspicious death should be so swiftly made and the official version accepted so unquestioningly. One of the Met’s major problems in the wake of de Menezes was the feeling that misinformation about the circumstances of his death was allowed to linger too long in the public domain.

Of course, the police are under pressure to come up with instant information for the ever-increasing media outlets. A man has died. How? Why? Who was he? It is hardly suprising that the police’s best take on the incident – that they were the subject of attack by demonstrators as they tried to save a man’s life – is the one that gets passed out and then gets prime position in the coverage. But when did it become clear to the police, from their own intelligence and video footage, what had actually happened to Tomlinson?

The two lessons must be that, as always, we should never assume that the first official version of a death in suspicious circumstances is accurate. The second lesson must be that the police have now to review their tactics for future demonstrations.

A man with a weak heart died. Was he prevented from leaving a scene of mayhem, of police, mounted and in riot gear, of barking dogs and bonfires? We were meant to recall the G20 summit as the start of a new world order. It may now turn out to be a rather less glorious view of the mechanics of law and order.

Duncan Campbell, Guardian, 7 April


Ian Tomlinson death: Guardian video reveals police attack on man who died at G20 protest


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So, what comes next? This week’s protests over the G20 meeting in London’s Docklands have ended and the focus of discussion is on police tactics and civil liberties rather than any of the questions raised by protesters. Their recession has not become our revolution, it looks certain that we will pay for their crisis, and the streets were most definitely not reclaimed.

The violence, most of it clearly provoked by police, distracted from the message of the protests (although the message itself was somewhat obscure). The protests themselves distracted from the real, difficult tasks facing the left. The general public were well-prepared for the violent scenes and police brutality by a media that was stocked full of bombastic rhetoric from “anarchists”, as well as predictions of chaos and a “summer of rage” from police sources.

It’s difficult to gauge accurately the impression that the average person gets of these protests, although one imagines it is not one of positive identification. The Guardian’s Duncan Campbell, by no means hostile to the protestors, describes the crowd as follows:

“playful, peaceful, harmless group of protesters, including rappers, sax-players, jugglers, spliff-rollers, students, CND campaigners, passers-by, and men dressed as police officers and wearing blue lipstick.”

This week was just the latest in a long succession of these anti-capitalist carnivals: J18, Seattle, Prague, Genoa, Evian, and plenty more in between. The question, as after all these events, is what happens now. Taking the J18 protest in the City of London in 1999 as a starting point, we can count this latest spectacle as something of a tenth anniversary. They are clearly not getting any larger, gaining any more social force (even in the midst of the greatest capitalist crises in decades), or becoming any more effective.

How to make them so? Both left-wing Labour MP John McDonnell, and Richard Seymour of Lenin’s Tomb, say we need bigger protests in future, Richard adding that these should coincide with “a general strike or something” and John suggesting they should be combined with direct action.

But surely both these arguments are to mistake a tactic for a strategy. Without new methods and strategies it is difficult to see these protests becoming any more significant, hopes for a general strike any less remote, nor direct action any more isolated from wider social forces.

It is arguable that there is also a general confusion between defensive and offensive orientation in these protests. Working class communities throughout the country are under attack on a whole range of fronts, the government is preparing a crackdown on welfare, and pushing through fresh privatisations. Yet the left’s rhetoric and tactics would suggest we are in the ascendency. This suggests an urgent reappraisal of our posturing.

Meanwhile, the far more significant news this week was the occupations and protests by employees at Visteon car parts factories in Belfast, Basildon and Enfield after the firm made 565 workers redundant. The company was part of Ford until 2000 and workers are fighting for a decent redundancy package from the company. Our full support goes to these workers. People should email solidarity messages to steve.hart@unitetheunion.com

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Demonstration: Saturday April 4
Assemble 12pm (sharp) Bank of England


Over the last week across London there has been a series of demonstrations and protests against the policies and programs implemented by the G20 leaders.

We are taking to the streets to express our compassion with the family of Ian Tomlinson who tragically died during the 1 April protests at the Bank of England. We are calling for an independent public inquiry into the instances of police violence that occurred though out the week and to establish to true circumstances of his death.

We wish to communicate our disgust and anger at the violent and brutal policing of the G20 demonstrations.

The press once again created an atmosphere of fear and violence in the lead up to the protests, preemptively justifying the police violence that occurred. They also misreported and lied about the circumstances of the tragedy. We recognise that for many communities the reality of police violence is a daily occurrence. The demonisation of communities, like the demonisation of protesters makes police violence seem normal.

As the crisis deepens and continues there will be increased resistance – from factory occupations to demonstrations, strikes and people coming together on the streets. We need to speak out now the right to defend our freedom to protest, our communities and our dignity.

Saturday April 4
Assemble 12pm sharp
Bank of England

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As part one of Dissidents Island’s G20 coverage. During the course of the day we went out and recorded on the streets as well as interviewing people in the studio and over the phone. The show starts with a little montage from the afternoon featuring voices and sounds from the Camp in The City as well as happenings at Bank.

We than had the Whitechapel Anarchist Group (the “notorious W.A.G.) in the studio explaining how they saw the day’s protests. Next we had coverage of the child space for activist kids, the G20 Critical Mass, and a little piece on trying to get some sort of information or comment from the police.

Our last 2 bits were an interview with our friend Kirsten about the nature of the ‘Black Horse’ march, followed by John’s montage from later in the evening when things had begun to take a nasty turn and police dogs were on the loose. Delsa popped in after this to spin some sweet reggae and dubstep tunes, not to be missed.


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