27 April 2009

G20 See the whole picture of police violence

Two cases have been highlighted of people being assaulted by police: Ian Tomlinson because he died and Nicola Fisher because she is a woman – and in both cases video evidence shows very clearly what happened.

Police authorities will try to pass off Tomlinson and Fisher as isolated cases using the ‘rotten apples in the barrel’ argument. However this approach deliberately deflects attention from the wide scale use of police violence.

The truth is that tens (if not hundreds) of demonstrators, who were neither violent nor vandalising property, were beaten with truncheons, riot shield, or were kicked or punched by police officers. Officers removed their identification number en masse precisely so they could assault with impunity.

Many of the victims were people who were corralled for hours into street concentration pens (the so-called kettling) who could not even leave the demonstration if they wished.

After several hours without food, water or toilet facilities demonstrators were allowed out the kettles, only if they agreed to identify themselves and be photographed. No legal authority for this exists; yet neither police management nor the government cares.

It is impossible not to draw the conclusion that police tactics were to punish demonstrators, not to police the demonstration. And the government is quite content, it would seem, to let that stand.

For the government Lord West has already congratulated the police on their operation. The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is anything but independent, has thus got the political support to procrastinate and to exonerate the police whenever it can. We need not hold our breath for them to finish their deliberations.

Indeed Tomlinson and Fischer need justice in their individual cases. But what really needs to happen is that large numbers of these police thugs need prosecuting and should be dismissed from the police force – and those senior officers in charge of these police on April 1st should be put on trial for conspiracy to assault.

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