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 Death at G20 protest 1/4/09: Ian Tomlinson, Police brutality and barbarism the norm
Posted: Apr 2 2009, 04:57 PM

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Police name man who died at G20 protest

City of London police say Ian Tomlinson was on his way home from work when he collapsed

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Ian Tomlinson, who died of a suspected heart attack yesterday. Photograph: Public domain

The man who died of a suspected heart attack in the City last night following a day of violent G20 protests has been named as Ian Tomlinson, a 47-year-old who worked in a newsagents.

City of London police said Mr Tomlinson, who lived in the City, was on his way home from the shop when he collapsed in St Michael's Alley close to the junction of Birchin Lane and Cornhill at 7.30pm.

It is not clear whether he had taken part in the protest or was simply passing through the area.

His family issued a statement which read: "Ian came from a large, loving family and he will be sadly missed by us all. The police are keeping us informed of any developments."

A postmortem examination is due to take place today, and the matter has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Earlier today, the first witness accounts emerged of Mr Tomlinson's last moments as thousand of demonstrators gathered in the City to pay tribute to him.

Jasper Jackson, 23, from London, who photographed Mr Tomlinson's collapse, said he had been standing in front of a line of police dog handlers minutes before he fell over. "The picture I have of him is of him stumbling in front of the protesters and in front of the police dogs looking dazed," he said. "He had a glazed look on his face. Then it was drawn to my attention that somebody shouted to the police with a loud hailer that there was a casualty and said, 'Can we get a medic?' "

The incident appears to have taken place shortly after lines of riot police attempted to clear protesters out of Cornhill Road and away from the Bank of England. Rows of police separated protesters inside and outside the containment pen.

Sporadic scuffles broke out on both sides of the lines, with police using their batons intermittently.

Pictures seen by the Guardian, and corroborated by witnesses, suggest that Mr Tomlinson initially fell to the ground by a window of 11 Royal Exchange, outside the Mont Blanc shop, in front of five riot officers.

A subsequent picture shows him being lifted off the floor by a protester.

Seconds later, he is seen walking past a line of police dogs. He is believed to have collapsed again close to the junction of Birchin Lane, near a Starbucks and Office Angels.

Jackson said Mr Tomlison was then surrounded by police officers who were pelted with at least one missile.

"There were a couple of people throwing bottles in that general direction," he said. "But they were told to stop doing that by the crowd. In fact, some people in the crowd threatened to kill them if they did anything to disrupt the treatment."

Another witness, Fran Legg, said she and a friend had rushed to help Mr Tomlinson after they realised he was not well. "People were calling out: 'Please, we need medics over here'," said the 20-year-old student, from Tavistock, in Devon. "Someone called an ambulance." Her friend put him in the recovery position and noticed he had blood on his face and was losing consciousness.

Legg said protesters were calling for people to move back and give him space as eight police officers arrived. By the time the ambulance reached the scene 10 minutes later, Mr Tomlinson was very white and could hardly breath.

Outside the Bank of England this afternoon where protesters scrawled tributes on a wall of condolence two demonstrators who had travelled from Manchester told how they saw paramedics attempting to resuscitate the 47-year-old.

"The officers were white as sheets," said Andy Bowman, a 24-year-old PhD student. "The blood had drained from their faces. They were giving us conflicting stories about what had happened; some of the officers were saying he had a blow to the head and some were saying he'd collapsed of a heart attack."

His friend Thomas Barlow, 26, said: "Some of the police were taking their helmets off, looking shocked.

"We were crossing the road and accidentally looked round and saw it.

"Someone called out, 'That person's hurt', and we went to have a look.

"The policemen around us tried to force us on very quickly."

By 3pm, the 1,200 people who had joined the tribute march from Bishopsgate sat and stood peacefully in Exchange Square, where they were surrounded by at least 150 police officers who had cordoned them in.

Two of the organisers, neither of whom wished to be named, had earlier called for action over Mr Tomlinson's death and criticised the policing tactics used yesterday.

"A man here died yesterday inside a police cordon," said one. "We're calling for information about this person's death and for an independent public inquiry. This person died inside a police cordon. He was supposed to be under the care of the police and the police have a responsibility for the people they cordon in."

He added: "We want to know what happened and we want to show our solidarity. We can't accept that people can die inside a police cordon and for us to receive no information about it."

Another demonstrator, clutching a bunch of lilies, said: "On behalf of the organisers, we extend our sympathies to the family of the gentleman who died yesterday exercising his democratic right to lawful protest."

She said it was "appalling" that someone could die while being "kettled".

She went on: "I don't see why people had to do that. They did it, somebody died and now we want answers."

More people are expected to congregate in Exchange Square as news of the tribute filters out.
Posted: Apr 2 2009, 11:29 PM

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Posted: Apr 2 2009, 11:47 PM

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Posted: Apr 2 2009, 11:50 PM

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Did the handling of the G20 protests reveal the future of policing?

This week police used 'kettling' - penning marchers in an area and refusing to let them out - to deal with the G20 demonstrations. Is this really the most sensible way to tackle protests?

          o Duncan Campbell
          o The Guardian, Friday 3 April 2009

Thirty years ago this month, a young teacher called Blair Peach was killed during a demonstration against the National Front in Southall, west London. Peach was a member of the Socialist Workers Party and the Anti-Nazi League, which had organised the protest during an upsurge of support for the far right. Peach's death and his funeral, attended by the thousands who accompanied the procession through East London, was memorialised in art, poetry and song.

It was believed that he had been killed by a blow on the head from a police radio but the exact cause was never officially established. A jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure. The policing of the protest, in which the Metropolitan police's Special Patrol Group (SPG) were notably involved, remains a topic of debate to this day.

Another 30 years, another demonstration, another death, albeit one that appears to have no link at all to violence by either police or demonstrators. Once again, however, the policing of the protest is under scrutiny.

Of course police tactics have changed over the years. The outright confrontation, like an old Roman battle, which was common in the 70s and 80s in demonstrations, has been refined. The nightmare scenario, as far as the police are concerned, is a repeat of the poll tax riots of 1990 when control of the centre of London was lost. Everything is now done to try and avoid a repeat. The surveillance techniques offered by closed circuit television, sophisticated long-distance filming, computerised identification and improved riot gear, mean that the old street battles are less common and have been replaced by containment. What the City saw on Wednesday and, to a lesser extent, yesterday, is a distillation of all those new techniques.

When the main body of protesters arrived on Wednesday from four different directions at their planned destination of the Bank of England, they soon found themselves hemmed in from all sides by ranks of police. Requests to leave the area were refused. This is, in police terms, the "kettle". It is best known for having been used in the May Day protests at Oxford Circus in 2001, after which it became the subject of a civil action, brought by one of those contained and only finally resolved by the law lords (in the police's favour) in January this year.

The kettle has also been used often in other, smaller, less publicised protests. Many away football fans, forced to stay behind police lines for long periods of time after a game, will be familiar with it. But what is significant about its use this week is that it is now apparently being applied in a rigid, inflexible way - policing as video-game. Its use was predicted and justified by the former assistant commissioner (special operations) at the Met, Andy Hayman, in an article in the Times earlier this week. "Tactics to herd the crowd into a pen ... have been criticised before, yet the police will not want groups splintering away from the crowd," he wrote.

There were certainly people anxious to smash windows and cause some mayhem in the City on Wednesday. But they were far outnumbered by a 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. For many of them the intention had been to come and make a lunchtime April Fool's Day protest against the City and the banking world's self-indulgence, as well as to air concerns about everything from climate change to homelessness. But when many wanted to leave the area, hardly any were allowed to.

"Don't ask us, ask the gaffer," was the response from police officers to people who wanted to leave and were puzzled that they could not. Gaffers seemed in short supply and none had, apparently, been allowed to use their own initiative in allowing who to release from the pen of police in which the protesters were corralled. There's an old police joke in which a constable injured in a riot staggers back through the ranks for treatment. Another officer comes to his aid. "Thanks, sarge," says the constable. "That's OK - but by the way, I'm a superintendent." "Blimey," replies the officer, "I didn't realise I was that far back."

Where were the supers this time, why were the crowd given no instructions as to where they should go or when? The area became a public lavatory as people unable to leave used the entrances to Bank underground station as a urinal. The containment was backed up at the Bank of England, first with mounted police and then with police dogs, ramping up tensions and fuelling further bloody confrontations.

As people were eventually allowed to leave the area, they were funnelled out down a pavement on Princes Street with a police officer grabbing them by the arm as though they were under arrest. One officer, asked why people were not allowed to leave under their own steam, replied: "They might fall over." People were then asked for their name and address and required to have a photo taken. Those who refused were put back in the pen.

As for the more obvious signs of destruction - the Royal Bank of Scotland had its windows smashed. Why no one had thought to board up a building with the RBS sign on it, as many other outfits had been boarded up, is unclear. As for the violent clashes that led to cracked heads and limbs - how much was inevitable and how much avoidable?

Certainly, the police had to put up with much abuse and missiles, although these were mainly plastic bottles and sprayed beer and cider. Certainly, some demonstrators were bent on aggro but, then again, so were some of the officers on Queen Victoria Street. But how much of the trouble as the day wore on could have been avoided by policing that didn't involve containment? And what does this mean for the future of protesting? Does this mean that anyone wanting to go on a demonstration in the future needs to be prepared to be detained for eight hours, photographed and identified? And how long, if such techniques continue, or are further refined, before the confrontations become bloodier?

The thing about kettles is that they do have a tendency to come to the boil.
Posted: Apr 2 2009, 11:55 PM

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Baton charges and kettling: police's G20 crowd control tactics under fire

Methods infringed civil liberties, say critics
Only hardcore agitators were targeted, Met insists

    * Sandra Laville and Duncan Campbell
    * The Guardian, Friday 3 April 2009

Police tactics of containing thousands of people for several hours at the Bank of England protests and using batons against climate camp protesters were condemned yesterday as an infringement of the right to demonstrate.

In the aftermath of the G20 protests in the City of London, politicians, demonstrators and a former police officer raised concerns about the methods used by the Metropolitan police to control crowds of more than 5,000.

Eyewitnesses said hundreds of environmental demonstrators camping out along Bishopsgate in a peaceful protest during the day were cleared from the area aggressively by riot police with batons and dogs after nightfall on Wednesday.

The police had earlier said they would ask the protesters, whom they acknowledged were peaceful, to move as night fell. Commander Simon O'Brien, said his officers would be "politely and proportionately" asking campers to move on.

But one eyewitness, Martin Horwood, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, said dogs were used on protesters near the camp. James Lloyd, a legal adviser in the camp, said riot police forcefully cleared the area using batons around midnight.

"There was no announcement, the riot police just started moving forward very quickly from the south," he said. "They were pushing everyone back, pushing forward quickly. They caused panic, people were screaming and shouting ... There was a person in a wheelchair struggling to move, being pushed forcibly by them. It was totally disproportionate."

Another eyewitness, Ashley Parsons, said: "The violence perpetrated against so many around me over that hour was sickening and terrifying.

"Without warning, from around midnight, the police repeatedly and violently surged forwards in full riot gear, occasionally rampaging through the protest line and deliberately destroying protesters' property, some officers openly screaming in pumped-up rage."

Outside the Bank of England, thousands were held for up to eight hours behind a police cordon, in a practice known as "kettling". Parents with children and passers-by were told by officers on the cordon that "no one could leave".

According to witnesses, when they were finally allowed to go on Wednesday night, they were ordered to provide names and addresses and have their pictures taken. If they refused, they were sent back behind the cordon.

John O'Connor, a former Met officer, criticised the tactic. "They are using this more and more," he said. "Instead of sending snatch squads in to remove those in the crowd who are committing criminal offences, they contain everyone for hours. It is a retrograde step ... it is an infringement of civil liberties."

The tactic was challenged in the courts by two demonstrators who were held for seven hours at Oxford Circus, central London, during the May Day protests in 2001. They claimed their imprisonment breached their rights to liberty but a House of Lords judgment ruled the tactics legal.

Senior police defended their actions, saying they were dealing with a small minority bent on violence, while allowing the demonstrations to go ahead.

They said the investigations were continuing. Two squats in east London were raided yesterday after officers viewed video footage taken by special teams. By last night the number arrested rose to 122 over three days. Four people were charged with damage to a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland on Wednesday. Mindaugas Lenartavicius, 21, was charged with arson recklessly endangering life, Daniel Champion and Ben Shiells, both 18, with burglary, criminal damage and theft of a computer, and a 17-year-old girl with burglary with intent to cause damage.

O'Brien said the cordons were put in place because a group of about 200 people were violent. "There was no real deliberate attempt to say you are all going to stay here for hours," he said.

He said people had been allowed to leave throughout the day, and that by about 7.30pm those left were people who wanted to be there, and they were asked for their names as they left as part of the inquiry. "What I saw there at that time was a couple of hundred people who did not want to go. They had ... been the agitators throughout the day," he said.

The Guardian saw and spoke to many people who were clearly not agitators, but who were refused permission to leave.

David Howarth, the Liberal Democrat justice spokesman, said: "How did the police end up in a situation where they used the same degree of force on the most peaceful demonstration as they did for a violent protest at the Bank of England? They seem to only have one trick."
Posted: Apr 3 2009, 12:20 AM

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The protests: Complaints of heavy-handed tactics after raids on squats

By Jerome Taylor

Friday, 3 April 2009

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Police officers clash with protesters in the City

The activists had just got up to cook a midday breakfast, after a busy 24 hours spent fighting capitalism, when the armoured police vans pulled up outside their three-storey red-brick squat in east London.

A few minutes later riot police wearing balaclavas and carrying Taser stun guns scaled the roof with ladders and ropes and smashed through a trapdoor into the rooms below.

Within minutes it was all over. Around 20 protesters were handcuffed, searched and questioned for two hours as part of a very public police response to Wednesday's riots at the Bank of England.

The protesters accused the police of unnecessary brutality. The police said they had intelligence that some of the residents were among the ringleaders of the City disturbances.

At another address near Liverpool Street in the east of the City of London, a large convoy of police vans arrived in the quiet back street and officers in protective clothing forced their way inside a squat.

At least 70 people were led out of the building and made to sit in the street outside as they were questioned and searched. Some were restrained with plastic handcuffs. One onlooker said a man with a head injury was taken outside and there were sounds of resistance from those inside.

But elsewhere it was mainly quiet. At the ExCeL centre protests were peaceful as various groups gathered throughout the day. The largest and most vocal protests came from two Ethiopian factions from Manchester and London who were complaining about human rights abuses in their African nation.

The two squats were raided yesterday at approximately 12.30pm, the first in Rampart Street, Whitechapel, the second off Earl Street, EC2.

The Metropolitan Police said four people were arrested in Rampart Street, two for violent disorder and two for possessing an offensive weapon.

Throughout this week's protests the squatters in Rampart Street have been advertising their building on the internet as a place where demonstrators could meet and sleep. A former Islamic school which was taken over by squatters five years ago, it is normally used as a community arts centre and is well known among left-wing activists in east London.

Those left to clear away the debris after the raid complained about what they said were overly heavy-handed tactics used by the police.

One Italian activist, who would reveal just his first name, Paulo, and was sporting a large bruise on his cheek, said: "The police stormed into the place like something out of the movies. I was punched in the face by a riot cop and then had a stun gun pointed at me. It was terrifying. If they'd knocked we'd have let them in."

Another female resident accused the police of being equally responsible for the violent confrontations. "They've been deliberately increasing tensions among protesters," she said. "A lot of fuss has been made about a few broken bank windows, but what about the police using truncheons on protesters?"

Superintendent Roger Evans, who was involved in the Earl Street raid, said intelligence officers had been watching the squats throughout the protests and were hoping to match some of the inhabitants with photographs of those who caused trouble on Wednesday.

"We have had officers keeping this building under overt surveillance," he said. "Our intelligence teams have been watching this [premises] for the last two days.

"A decision was made to see if anybody was involved in the violence yesterday. I don't know exactly how many people were inside but it's about 70 so far. There are all sorts of people inside. People with piercings, people without piercings, people with dogs the sort of people you might expect to see at a pop festival."

The police have now released the name of the man who collapsed and died near the anti-G20 protests in the City on Wednesday.

Ian Tomlinson, 47, a City resident, was on his way home from work at a newsagent when he collapsed near the Bank of England just before 7.30pm. Police officers were reportedly pelted with debris as they tried to resuscitate him.

Until details of his death were announced late yesterday afternoon, protesters had assumed Mr Tomlinson was a fellow-demonstrator and consequently held a vigil for him.

Climber's climate change protest

French free-climber Alain Robert yesterday scaled the Lloyds tower and unfurled a large banner from the ninth floor warning that there were only 100 months left to save the world from climate change. Robert has climbed some of the world's tallest buildings without ropes, including the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and Canary Wharf. He has so far scaled around 85 giant structures around the globe. While scaling the Sears Tower in Chicago in 1999, thick fog set in, covering the glass and metal wall with moisture and making it dangerously slippery but he succeeded in reaching the top.
Posted: Apr 3 2009, 12:22 AM

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Craig Murray
There was a fascinating and drawn out scene outside the Bank of England yesterday when a distinct group of some thirty were attacking the police, one hitting the police with a long pole. Prominent was a group of young Asian lads.

I recognised them because I was crushed up hard for a good while against the same bunch of young Asians outside the Israeli Embassy a couple of months ago, where again they were being inexcusably violent.

The very strange thing was that, plainly from Sky's overhead cam, the Police had the ability to isolate and snatch this group of obviously violent individuals, and the police would have had my support in doing so. But they didn't.

So who are they?

This post has been edited by numeral on Apr 3 2009, 12:23 AM
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