Socialist Worker

G20 policing: Intimidation is their intention

Issue No. 2146

Police numbers were disproportionate (Pic:» Guy Smallman )

Police numbers were disproportionate (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

The police reacted to the G20 protests last week with their usual mixture of lies and bullying.

One man died on Wednesday evening as police confronted protesters in London’s City financial district.

He was named as Ian Tomlinson, 47, who lived in the City area and worked at a newsagents.

He was on his way home when he collapsed near the Bank of England at around 7.30pm on Wednesday.

According to witness statements received by the Independent Police Complaints Commission IPCC he was “assaulted” by riot police.

Anna Branthwaite said, “I can remember seeing Ian Tomlinson. He was rushed from behind by a riot officer with a helmet and shield two or three minutes before he collapsed.”

Amiri Howe recalled seeing Tomlinson being hit “near the head” with a police baton. Howe took one of a sequence of photographs that show a clearly dazed Ian Tomlinson being helped by a bystander.

Another witness says she saw him being pushed aggressively from behind by police. “I saw a man violently propelled forward, as though he’d been flung by the arm, and fall forward on his head.

“He hit the top front area of his head on the pavement. I noticed his fall particularly because it struck me as a horrifically forceful push by a policeman and an especially hard fall – it made me wince.”

Initially, his death was attributed by a police post mortem to natural causes. A couple of hundred demonstrators held a vigil outside the Bank of England on Thursday lunchtime to mark his death.

Protesters also took part in a march from the City to Bethnal Green police station last Saturday to protest against police brutality and media lies.

Initial police claims that they had been pelted with missiles while trying to help him were rejected by eyewitnesses at the scene.

“There were a lot of people around him trying to help and asking for medics,” said Elias Stoakes, a student at Queen Mary university.

“One or maybe two plastic bottles were thrown, but it was by people further back in the crowd who did not know what was going on. There definitely wasn’t a rain of bottles.”

Other witnesses spoke of how protesters had rushed to help Ian Tomlinson when he collapsed. They were responsible for calling for medical help and alerting the police.

Police tactics throughout the day have been criticised. The practice of “kettling” – holding protesters and anyone caught up in the protest behind police lines for hours on end without access to water or toilet facilities – has come in for particular criticism.

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