Search results for: Ian Tomlinson

Justice for Ian Tomlinson? (Part 3)

Yesterday’s news brought with it a real and welcome surprise. After the inquest jury earlier this month unanimously decided that newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson was unlawfully killed by TSG PC Simon Harwood at the G20 protests in April 2009, the Director of Public Prosecutions has executed a very public u-turn and announced that Harwood will now face a criminal prosecution for manslaughter.

Ian’s family are naturally relieved by this turn of events, as are those who have helped the campaign to get justice for them in his memory. His son, Paul King, released a statement on behalf of the family:

We welcome today’s decision to bring a charge of manslaughter against the officer. We believe this is the right decision. What we have always wanted is to achieve justice for Ian and to show that police officers are not above the law.

And they have appeared to be above the law for far too long. As far as I am aware, this is the first time (certainly in living memory) that a police officer will be called to account in the criminal courts for something like this – and I believe that it is also unusual for the DPP to change his mind so publicly on such a high profile case.

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Ian Tomlinson Inquest: The Verdict

After two years of fighting to find out exactly what happened to Ian Tomlinson on the evening of April 1st 2009, today his family came one step closer to justice after an inquest jury unanimously decided that he had been unlawfully killed by PC Simon Harwood, who may now face prosecution.

Here’s the verdict, as quoted on the Tomlinson Family Campaign website:

Time, place and circumstances at or in which injury was sustained:

Mr Tomlinson was on his way home from work on 1st April 2009 during the G20 demonstrations.

He was fatally injured at around 19.20 in Royal Exchange Buildings (the Passage), near to the junction with Cornhill, London EC3. This was as a result of a baton strike from behind and a push in the back by a police officer which caused Mr Tomlinson to fall heavily.

Both the baton strike and the push were excessive and unreasonable.

As a result, Mr Tomlinson suffered internal bleeding which led to his collapse within a few minutes and his subsequent death.

At the time of the strike and the push, Mr Tomlinson was walking away from the police line. He was complying with police instructions to leave Royal Exchange Buildings (the Passage). He posed no threat.

Conclusion of the jury as to the death:

Unlawful killing.

After the appalling behaviour of the Metropolitan Police in recent days and their chaotic policing of both last year’s student protests and the March 26th TUC anti-cuts demo, this verdict must surely come as at least some good news – it is about time the police were truly held accountable for their actions and their treatment of both protesters and bystanders like Ian.

But this is only the beginning. I hope this verdict is a step forward in the long process of gaining justice not just for Ian Tomlinson’s family, but for all those injured by or who have lost loved ones to police brutality.

I wish all the best to Ian’s family – they have faced this horrendous ordeal with a quiet and inspiring dignity. I hope they can now finally begin to find peace.

Justice for Ian Tomlinson?

I haven’t written anything of substance yet about the appalling decision recently taken by Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer and the CPS not to prosecute the police officer who was caught on camera at last year’s G20 protests attacking newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson – mainly because I’m still too angry about the whole business, and because much of what I want to say has already been said by more knowledgeable and articulate voices than mine.

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Quote of the Day: Julia Tomlinson on justice for Ian

The last four years have been a really hard uphill battle. We have had to deal with many obstacles and setbacks. After the ‘unlawful killing’ verdict at the inquest it was unimaginable to us that PC Harwood could be acquitted of the criminal charge of manslaughter. We will never understand that verdict, but at least today’s public admission of unlawful killing by the Metropolitan police is the final verdict, and it is as close as we are going to get to justice.

After everything they have been through in the last four years, I am glad that Ian Tomlinson’s family now finally have an apology from the Metropolitan Police Service, although the fact that it has taken four years for the police to fully acknowledge the events of April 1st 2009 and after says a great deal about how this case has been handled and the attitudes of some of the individuals and institutions involved.

Like many others who were at that ill-fated G20 demo in April 2009 (and who witnessed the behaviour of the TSG first hand), I have been following the progress of this case with much interest and I have been impressed with the quiet determination of Ian’s family in their search for the truth. In an ideal world, many of us would very much have liked to have seen Simon Harwood found guilty in last year’s manslaughter trial, but, as Ian’s widow Julia put it, this apology “is as close as we are going to get to justice”.

They may not have got the kind of justice many of us were hoping for, however, but I wish the Tomlinson family all the best for the future, whatever that brings, and I hope this apology (and the out of court settlement that accompanied it) can go at least some way towards helping them all move on from such a terrible and traumatic experience. I am sure that Ian would be proud of their tenacity, strength and bravery in standing up to the institutionalised violence, incompetence and cover-ups that surrounded his death with such dignity.

The Stupid Awards – July 2012

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the July 2012 edition of the Another Kind Of Mind Stupid Awards. All those nominated for a Stupid Award tonight have been chosen for their spectacular demonstrations of pure, unadulterated idiocy and their inability to function with any sense even in the glaring face of reality. July has been a vintage month for such complete and utter fuckwittery, what with all of tonight’s candidates showing off their not inconsiderable skills over the last week – so, without further ado, here are the nominees…

Aidan Burley MP:

Nominated for: Being a racist Tory bigot in charge of a computer.

Oh look. Yet another Tory MP has opened his mouth and stuffed his foot firmly inside it in a very public fashion. There is something to be said for politicians being on Twitter – I follow several who are actually very interesting and very human tweeters. I may not always agree with them but they mostly understand the concept of when to shut up – unlike Mr Burley, who is (for the time being, anyway) still somehow MP for the marginal constituency Cannock Chase after some really nasty comments.

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Quote of the Day: Alan Moore on government cuts

In a fascinating Guardian interview published today, legendary comic book writer Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc.) was asked what he thought about the economic crisis and the cuts introduced by the British government:

It’s the bankers and financial institutions who have knowingly got us into this mess. Either they did knowingly or they were unbelievably stupid and incompetent. This is not even capitalism any more. Capitalism employs a rough and ready Darwinian survival of the fittest. The banks have become like monarchies. They are too big to fail, too big to punish. They are above parliament. Banks are treating themselves as if they were a new class of fiscal royalty. The kind of royalty they most resemble is Charles I. He was above parliament and not accountable for his lavishness. He put the pinch upon the country to the point where the poor people simply starved.

No, this cannot be tolerated. You cannot have libraries, schools and things that people need for a basic standard of living taken away while George Osborne is making deals with companies to allow them to make better use of tax havens because they are threatening to take their business elsewhere. There are alternatives. We are not all in this together.

I’m all in favour of anti-cuts demonstrations. And it’s always very pleasing to see so many V for Vendetta masks in the crowd. I’m very proud of those boys and girls.

(And that’s V for Vendetta masks like these, spotted at a Justice for Ian Tomlinson demo last summer…)

Blair Peach: the Final Verdict?

Southall, West London, 23rd April 1979:

It was St George’s day, and the far-right National Front had decided to celebrate the feast day of the patron saint of England by holding a provocative meeting in the heart of Southall, an area of west London which was then (and still is) home to several large and vibrant Asian communities.

Unsurprisingly, the situation was tense, made even more so by the presence of the Special Patrol Group (SPG) of the Metropolitan Police. This specialist riot squad had already made a violent reputation for itself, and the events of 23rd April 1979 were the beginnings of its eventual downfall and replacement with the equally nasty Territorial Support Group (TSG).

Just like Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper vendor killed at last year’s G20 demonstrations by a member of the TSG, Blair Peach was attempting to get home when he fatally encountered the police. A New Zealander, Peach was a teacher and anti-fascist activist who had come to Southall that day to protest against the NF.

In the midst of confrontations between protesters and police, Peach was separated from his friends as they tried to make their way out of the chaos. At least ten people saw and later gave consistent accounts of what happened next.

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Technology, Protest and the G20.

Yeah, I know I said that I wouldn’t be blogging again until after my submission date, but what are rules there for if not to be broken? I’ve spent much of the evening following the events at the Pittsburgh G20 protests online, unable to drag myself away from multiple Twitter feeds. Finally, Twitter is really making sense to me, after a long time being very dubious of why I would need to use something that was basically a Facebook status update – but without the other fun and stupid things you can do on the Book of Face (as my sister calls it).

The importance of technology in protest was actually very fiercely brought home to me at the London G20 demos back in April. Stuck in the huge police kettle by the Bank of England on April 1st, the Media Activist and I had no idea what was going on – and the Met police goons surrounding us weren’t exactly communicative. Enter the humble mobile phone, and text updates from people elsewhere (in my case, Leicester!), who were a damn sight closer to a computer and those informative Twitter feeds/news sites than we were. In fact, my mobile was a godsend during those two days; it got me a load of useful photos and it kept me in touch with my friends when we got separated in the chaos of April 2nd. And I wasn’t the only one: the vast majority of the overwhelming evidence for the police brutality inflicted on protesters over that 48-hour period came not from professional media photographers and cameramen, but from the phones and digital cameras of protesters and bystanders. In the days following the London G20 protests, more and more amateur photos and footage were being uploaded onto the internet, shared by individuals and groups, and forwarded to the mainstream television and print media. Indeed, if it wasn’t for such footage, the truth about the death of Ian Tomlinson would have probably never come out – the police had, in fact,  been publicly lying about Tomlinson’s tragic death almost from the moment it happened.

The subsequent scandals surrounding the police behaviour at G20 seems to have made them rethink their protest tactics – I’ve been on a number of demos in London since G20, the most recent being an impassioned Disarm DSEi anti-arms trade protest in the City of London earlier this month, and the police have, without exception, very ostentatiously been distinctly hands-off in their approach. Despite the continued presence of the FIT (cops with cameras who seem to enjoy photographing and harassing known activists), and the distinct impression amongst many groups that these new softly-softly police tactics won’t last, I suspect that the Met has been quite severely shaken up by the fact that they’re not the ones in control of the technology any more….

And that’s true in other parts of the world too. The mobile phone footage and pictures that emerged during the protests over the result of the Iranian election earlier this year (and the fact that ‘IranElection’ has been a trending topic on Twitter as recently as this week) showed a face of the Iranian people that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn’t want the rest of the world to see, for example. The demonstrations in Pittsburgh today were all over Twitter (and you know things have got truly international when you re-tweet a link from London, only to find it being re-re-tweeted by a Pittsburgh TV station a few minutes later, as happened to me earlier!), which gave the protests far more solid coverage than the vague paragraph or so they seem to be getting on the mainstream news websites. Tales of tear gas, rubber bullets and ‘military sound weapons’ being used against the Pittsburgh protesters hit Twitter long before the mainstream media picked up on them, showing just how central citizen journalism can be to the newsgathering process these days.

The power of such technology in the struggle to hold the authorities to account for abuses of position is only growing in strength. The police still have the ability to record and track the movements of activists (although why they bother half the time is a bit beyond me – they’re more of  a threat to public order than we are…), but they are beginning to realise that we are fighting back with the same weapons. And they really don’t like that. They can no longer hide behind the anonymity of removing their numbers, or the illusory strength of photographing demonstrators to be put ‘on file’. The files are now on them, as organisations like FITWatch amply prove – and these files grow thicker and thicker with every demonstration, with every cameraphone wielded in anger, with every image or video uploaded to the internet…..

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