Wednesday 4 May 2011

Why Ian Tomlinson's death will not be the last

The inquest of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson has finally brought a modicum of justice to an outrageous act of police violence. The jury decided Pc Simon Harwood acted illegally, recklessly and dangerously, and used "excessive and unreasonable" force in striking Mr Tomlinson. Jurors added that the newspaper seller, who was not taking part in the protests, posed no threat.

Pc Harwood should not be seen as 'a rotten apple', a one off, a lone rogue officer. I was there on that day, and saw violence by the police used on countless occasions. Harwood was unfortunate that it was his baton wielding and mindless violence that ended up with a death, and was also caught on camera. I have no doubt that if not for the overwhelming video evidence, he would have got off scot free.

For, though there are many, many good police officers out there, I fear that the training around crowd control issues is outdated and dangerous. Worse than that, they have evolved a mentality which justifies violence against those involved in anticapitalist movements. We are seen as the enemy, and all must be done to protect the interests of the government, the banks, and the corporations above the interests of the people.

Until the culture of violence by the police is properly challenged, and other police officers are brave enough to condemn the actions of officers who have behaved recklessly, then I fear Ian Tomlinson will not be the last to die at the hands of the police force.

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