Sunday, 19 April 2009

When is GBH not GBH? When it's the cops.

I saw and liked this on one of my favourite procrastination centres: .
It's a valid point, and one I think we can transpose to the G20 protests in London on April 1st.
For those of you in America and elsewhere who may not have heard the full story, there were lots of protests in London to mark the G20. Anyone from climate change protesters to anticapitalists, it was hyped up in the media to be a full scale mob riot with thugs aplenty. Even though the majority of protests on the day were peaceful, the news coverage looked like this:
Sky News
Bad protesters. Naughty protesters. Much was made of the man you can see at 0.51 'taunting' peaceful police officers. One has to wonder where he got the headwound that made him so angry, though.
The police were praised for their decisive and necessary action in a very difficult situation. Any peaceful protesters who had suffered only had their thuggish, violent, riot-happy comrades to blame. Even a protester called Ian Tomlinson's sad death was due to those evil mobs preventing the police from helping him after he had an unexpected heart attack.
Then this video shows up.

The Guardian, incidentally is a left-wing broadsheet paper, to whom this video was given by a New York fund manager who also wasn't there for the protests, but had been 'kettled' (trapped) by the police. And since this came out, the heart attack verdict given by a police autopsy has been called into question. Internal injuries are now believed to be a more likey cause of death.
And now a fair few others have come forward with compromising video footage directly contradicting claims made by the authorities, and suddenly the London Metropolitan Police don't look so 'courageous'.
But still the language is different.
I heard what I assume to have been the head of the Met, or at least a spokesman on BBC Radio this morning. He said the actions of some officers was 'regrettable' and 'IF there were (Officers deliberately covering up their ID to avoid later complaints, as appears to be the case with Ian's truncheon-happy buddy)they will be dealt with'.
There are still politicians claiming that the police were just doing their job, and it was the protesters who 'started it'.
Thing is, if you're up against the police, and the police are whacking non violent passers by with truncheons, (sorry 'using necessary force in a difficult scenario') what are you going to do, call the police?
Or do you become a 'violent mob'?
Or relinquish your right to protest?
Them's your choices.
My thoughts are with Ian Tomlinson's family. It's hard enough to lose your dad without being lied to by the police as well.


  1. What a terrible scene. There is no excuse for horrific behavior, except that of being human. I've seen the police in the states act like scared little boys when up against a large group of protesters - no matter how non-violent they are. Why send them at all?

  2. Why? Well, we don't want all that cash they splurged on shiny riot shields to be WASTED, do we?
    I'd like to point out that, as at many protests, there were the usual asshats calling themselves 'hardcore' who clearly couldn't give a monkey's about the climate, the financial meltdown or any kind of inequality, and are only there for a fight with the 'pigs'. They don't help either, but funnily enough, it seems to quite often be the non-scary protesters that the guys in the riot gear choose to take on. I guess that way they can look like they are 'taking action' and 'sending a tough message' etc. etc. with a far slimmer chance of ending up bleeding internally themselves.

  3. I don't think kids should carry any kind of signs - they're not old enough to make decisions about political stuff and they shouldn't be anyone's pawns.

  4. Quite. And similarly, no-one should beat the shit out of anyone at a protest. But, as long as they are doing, calling it 'thuggish mob mentality' when a protester does it and 'brave, necessary action' when a cop does it is hypocritical.