Regular readers will know that I don’t often mention news stories here. This can’t go unmentioned though.
Please take a couple of minutes to watch this video and read this report. The video shows what seems to be Ian Tomlinson, the man who died during the G20 protests on April 1st, being pushed from behind by a police officer dressed in riot gear, including a balaclava. Unlike the others in the group, the officer who pushed Mr Tomlinson to the floor doesn’t seem to be wearing his identification epaulets, or ‘collar numbers‘, on his shoulders.
The investigation is continuing to look through CCTV footage to see whether the incident inside Royal Exchange Passage has been captured and we already have a number of witness accounts from the area. However, I would ask anyone else who saw Mr Tomlinson at about 7.20 p.m. or who may have taken a photo of him around that time to contact us so that we can build up a full picture of what happened.
Anybody who saw Mr Tomlinson in Royal Exchange Square is asked to contact the IPCC on 0800-096 9071 or email Tomlinson@ipcc.gov.uk
And who took this important video? Not the police (though they were certainly filming the protesters). Not a protestor. Not even a legal observer (though I saw at least one of those in the crowd). No, the person who filmed this was an independent bystander. He was apparently a fund manager from New York, working in London.
We all need to be observers. It seems to me that we need more people taking photos of the police during events like this, not to target them with yet more anti-terror legislation such as the Counter Terrorism Act 2008. (See also this article outlining the new legislation too. Especially the comments).
We need to be able to hold to police accountable, especially in tense and difficult situations like a protest. Imagine how much more difficult the IPCC’s job would be now if it were not for all those cameras in the hands of the public. If the police start using section 76 to prevent people from filming them in public, that’s a protest I’ll be attending as participant, not just an observer.