Socialist Worker

Police under fire over G20 brutality

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2164

Pressure is mounting on the police this week after the family of Ian Tomlinson accused the police of a “cover-up” and demanded that the officer who hit Ian is prosecuted.

Tomlinson died after being pushed by police during the protests against the G20 in April.

Julia Tomlinson, Ian’s widow, and Paul King, his son, spoke out this week about what the police have put them through.

The family exposed the web of lies that the police weaved in the hours and days after Ian’s death.

It started when the police knocked on their door at 4.30am the morning after Ian died. Julia explains, “They said: ‘Your husband was caught up in the G20 riots, and he suddenly collapsed and died of a heart attack.’”

Then the police kept many of the details of the postmortem from the family.

It was only after the videos, taken by the public of Ian being hit, came to light that a second postmortem was carried out—completely contradicting the results of the first.

“Now we know that it wasn’t a heart attack, that he died of internal bleeding,” says Julia.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has assembled a dossier of evidence against the officer who hit Tomlinson. It has also questioned the officer on suspicion of manslaughter.

But leaked police memos have revealed that, were it not for the evidence and public pressure, the case would not even have made it this far.

Just four days after Ian’s death, the IPCC had written a “draft” statement ending its investigation and saying that “there is no evidence that the actions of those officers present ... contributed in any way to the sudden and untimely death of an innocent bystander”.

Another IPCC investigation, over whether the police “misled” the public over the death, is ongoing.

It is now up to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide whether to prosecute the officer for manslaughter—but the CPS has a long record of dropping cases at this stage.

“Ian was the victim of an unprovoked assault by a police officer,” said Julia.

“If there is going to be any justice then it must be left for a jury to decide if the police officer is guilty of killing Ian.”

Since 1969 there have been more than 1,000 deaths in police custody, but no police officer has ever been successfully prosecuted.

We need to keep the pressure on to get justice for Ian Tomlinson, and to disband the Territorial Support Group riot squad.

The scandal of ‘kettling’

Another investigation into the G20 protests has showed that a woman may have suffered a miscarriage after being hit by police riot shields.

She was left bruised on her legs and arms and bleeding after being “kettled” at the climate camp protest in Bishopsgate.

The woman, who has not been named, said in a statement: “I feel the treatment I received by the police officers was unnecessary, disproportionate and inhumane. I feel violated.”

She was not allowed to leave the kettle for five hours.

The IPCC said her injuries were “more serious than most”, but the police brutality she suffered “appears to have been typical” of the day.

It recommended that protesters should be able to leave kettles in future.

Protesters are to march and rally on Friday 21 August, the one year anniversary of Sean Rigg’s death in police custody in Brixton. Go to »

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Article information

Tue 11 Aug 2009, 18:46 BST
Issue No. 2164
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