Socialist Worker

Activists refuse to let police off hook

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2149

Campaigners against police violence, including RMT general secretary Bob Crow (fifth from left), visit Millwall football ground last Saturday (Pic:» Guy Smallman</a

Campaigners against police violence, including RMT general secretary Bob Crow (fifth from left), visit Millwall football ground last Saturday (Pic: » Guy Smallman

The campaign to win justice for Ian Tomlinson, who died after being pushed by police at the G20 protests in London, sprang into action last week.

The United Campaign Against Police Violence (UCAPV) was set up in response to the behaviour of officers policing the G20 protests.

Activists, including RMT transport union general secretary Bob Crow, went to Millwall’s football ground, The Den, last Saturday to talk to fans about the campaign, handing out over 1,000 leaflets.

Ian was a keen Millwall fan and was wearing a team T-shirt the day he died.

Fans were pleased to see campaigners and many stopped to share their experiences of the police.

One man said, “They treat us badly all the time. They block us in and stop us from getting on the train after the match. It’s the police that come down here looking for trouble.”


Another fan showed a bump on his head. “This is what the police did to me last week as I was going home,” he said. “They’ve got no respect for us.”

Barry Smith, who worked with Ian Tomlinson selling the Evening Standard newspaper, joined the leafleting.

“I loved Ian to bits,” he told Socialist Worker.

“People who buy the Standard from us have all put in money for wreaths for Ian. When they saw the footage on the TV of what the police did to him they thought it was a disgrace.

“He left me at 7pm and within an hour he’d died. There was no need for the police to do that to him. He was just walking home.

“People trapped by the police were putting their hands up to go to the toilet and they couldn’t even do that.

“The police wouldn’t even let pregnant women out. It’s out of order.

“Ian just wanted to go home but the police whacked him. Police think all Millwall fans are trouble, but they’re not and Ian wasn’t.”

Matt Collins, a campaign activist and Millwall fan, told Socialist Worker, “We left the ground early after the game and stood at the exit holding our banner. We got an amazing response.

“Everyone was clapping us as they left.

“People were coming and taking the leaflets out of our hands. The Millwall fans’ web forums are abuzz about it as well.”

UCAPV has won significant trade union support with the London Underground Engineering branch of the RMT, Jubilee South & East London Line RMT, and George Green’s School NUT in the Isle of Dogs all affiliating to the campaign.

There is a model motion on the campaign website for trade unionists to pass in their branches.

Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition and London Green Party are now also official supporters.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has approved another post-mortem on Ian’s body, which has now been carried out.

But the results haven’t been released and may not be for some time.

This most recent post-mortem was requested by the solicitor representing the Territorial Support Group (TSG) officer who has been questioned on suspicion of manslaughter by IPCC investigators.

Meanwhile, more video evidence has emerged showing the general brutality of the police operation on 1 April.

Some footage shows police pushing a protester to the ground and holding him there while another officer appears to kick the protester.

They then allow him to get up and walk away, apparently with no intention of arresting him.

Questions are also now being asked about the relationship between the police, the IPCC press offices and the media.

The family of Ian Tomlinson has requested a separate investigation into the way the police used the media to put their version of events.


Police statements falsely claimed that protesters pelted police with bottles while officers tried to give Ian medical treatment.

The right wing press ran headlines about this story.

Yet the subsequent retreat from it has been much more subtle.

PC Rob Ward, one of the officers deployed to police the demonstrations in the city, summed up what seems to have been the general attitude of the police on the day.

Ward’s Facebook social network site status, updated shortly after Ian Tomlinson’s death, read, “Can’t wait to bash some long haired hippys [sic] up @ the G20.” His site has since been taken down.

Ian Tomlinson’s family and members of the public are rightly demanding thorough investigations into the policing of the G20 protests to get to the truth.

But we should be aware of the danger that the police might use an investigation into the media as an excuse to hold up the investigation into the causes of Ian’s death. This investigation is vital if the police are to be brought to justice.

Stop Police Violence
Public meeting
Tuesday 5 May, 7pm,
Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London (opposite Euston station)

Demonstrate against police violence
Saturday 23 May, Assemble 3pm,
Trafalgar Square, central London


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Article information

Tue 28 Apr 2009, 19:01 BST
Issue No. 2149
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