Socialist Worker

Police admit they beat Gaza protesters

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2210

Russell and Ashley Inglis join a protest at the high court on Tuesday of this week  (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/Guy Smallman )

Russell and Ashley Inglis join a protest at the high court on Tuesday of this week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The Metropolitan Police is to pay £25,000 in compensation to two protesters who were beaten by police during a demonstration in London.

Ashley Inglis and his brother Russell went to the Israeli embassy on 3 January last year to protest against the war crimes being committed against the people of Gaza.

They saw police violence being committed against protesters, and were on the receiving end of it themselves.

The news of the police’s payout to the Inglis brothers came as ten Gaza protesters appealed on Tuesday against their sentences for violent disorder on the demonstrations.

Seven of them had their sentences reduced, meaning that two were released as they had already served their time.

Protesters believe that the police were responsible for the violence at the Gaza demonstrations last year.

Ashley told Socialist Worker, “We were standing at the back of the demonstration and people were coming from the front with bloody head injuries. It was clear the police had decided to be violent.”

The police had earlier trapped and beaten protesters in the Hyde Park underpass. Ashley said, “It was clear that people were being very restrained.

“When you look at the footage you can see that there was a few feet distance between the police and the protesters. It was the crowd being attacked.”

There are deep concerns about the way that the police gather evidence to use in court—and what they leave out.

Ashley said, “The footage we saw in the process of disclosure shows that police camera operators systematically panned away from the actions of the police.

“They would focus on the protesters, then on something innocuous, and then come back.

“There are also breaks in the films, when the cameras were switched off. If you were filming a whole protest why would you turn the camera off?

“The police were lashing out and hitting people. They cracked me over the head.

“The force of the blow made me fall to the ground. Russell rushed over to help me and get the number of the police officer who had hit me.

“He was immediately struck by the police and was soon bleeding from the head.”

Police had covered their numbers with what Ashley describes as “perfectly fitting pieces of white material”.

Ashley wanted an apology from the police and complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Met.

The Met ruled that there was nothing to answer as officers couldn’t be identifed and the incident had not been filmed by the police.

A CCTV camera on the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington did capture it though.

Coralled

Ashley told Socialist Worker, “The IPCC complaints system is not fit for purpose—it’s impossible to put the police in the dock.

“If I had injured a police officer like they injured me I would be in the dock on charges of assault or bodily harm.

“Protesters who did much less than that are in prison now.

“So we decided to bring a civil claim against the police—and last week the Met sent us a letter apologising for the injury caused.

“But the police were violent from the beginning.

“They corralled us like cattle and were lashing out with batons.

“They started pushing us back with shields and attacked the crowd again. My brother turned his back and walked away from them.

“An officer lunged behind him and pushed him with a shield and he fell to the ground. Only a few months later that same kind of action contributed to the death of Ian Tomlinson.”

Eighteen months on, many Gaza protesters are still fighting for justice. Some people are still on bail and awaiting trial.

“The most upsetting thing was finding out about all the people in prison.

“The criminalisation of protesters and the harassment of the Muslim community are distressing.

“We want to use a chunk of the money to help the protesters.

“I won’t go on a protest without a camera again—it can be the difference between the conviction of a police officer or a protester.”

Around 30 people, including Russell and Ashley, joined a protest outside the High Court on Tuesday as the Gaza protesters had their appeal.


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Article information

News
Tue 13 Jul 2010, 17:56 BST
Issue No. 2210
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