Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ian Tomlinson

I have been following the London G20 Meetings from a distance and with little real interest until the reports of Ian Tomlinson's death began to emerge.

Mr. Tomlinson was not a demonstrator but a worker on his way home from work. Initial reports stated that he had collapsed and had been carried into relative safety by police officers because missiles were being thrown in the vicinity. He died shortly thereafter.

The Police issued some bland statements that a report would be issued in due course as to whether an investigation was justified.

Then came the video. This shows Mr. Tomlinson being pushed to the ground by a police officer (in full view of several other officers) where Mr. Tomlinson suffered a blow to the head from which he is presumed to have died.

Only now, several days after the event and the release of the video, have the police admitted that an internal investigation is necessary.

It is inevitable that certain parallels can be made to the de Menezes shooting in South London several years ago. Then it was the shooting of an innocent person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This time it was a police baton, not several bullets, but the result is the same. No doubt there will be those who say it was all an unfortunate accident, that there was no malice and that the push to the ground was not supposed to be life threatening. Look at the video.

I am not one to judge from my distance but surely an investigation is necessary from outside the structure of the Metropolitan Police? An independent inquiry would seem to be fully justified. I don't like to use irony when an innocent death is involved but is it not strange that the police officer has not yet been identified, either from the video (think image enhancement techniques that work so well in identifying terrorists, etc.) or by fellow officers?

In reviewing various entries made over the years, this blog carries frequent observations that the police in Britain have ceased to be public servants, hiding behind CCTV cameras, rarely interfacing with the public they are supposed to serve (and who pay their salaries and pensions).

Remember, Ian Tomlinson was a worker, dressed down as advised by the authorities so as to be safe from demonstrators' ire. Thinking, no doubt, that as an innocent bystander, he was protected by the law, he walked in front of the police officers, no doubt in a hurry to get home. If he had mistrusted their intentions and walked behind them, he would be alive today.

This all comes at the same time that the Hungarian website (linked to yesterday) displayed a series of images of low life in Cardiff, Wales. Those leaders who sit in their ivory towers, whether Parliament or Scotland Yard, need to get out and about in the real world. Like Ian Tomlinson did.