Saturday, April 04, 2009

Last Wednesday a man collapsed and died at the G20 protests in London England. Since then the circumstances of his death have generated considerable controversy. There isn't any question about whether he died as a direct result of a police attack- he didn't. The controversy revolves around whether the police helped or hindered efforts to save his life. Here are the bare bones of the story from Yahoo News UK.
G20 death man suffered heart attack
Ian Tomlinson, 47, collapsed on Wednesday evening as scores of protesters were gathered near the Bank of England in the City of London.

The City resident was returning home from his work at a nearby newsagents at the time.

Despite receiving treatment at the scene, medics were unable to save him and Mr Tomlinson was pronounced dead later that day in hospital.

The City of London Police said: "A post-mortem examination found he died of natural causes.
"(He) suffered a sudden heart attack while on his way home from work.

"The family thanked all the people who rushed to Ian's aid when he collapsed and said how grateful they are for all the efforts that were made to help him."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said officers treating Mr Tomlinson had bottles thrown at them by protesters.

But there were also claims that his treatment was delayed by the presence of the police cordon that had been thrown around the protest area.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is looking into Mr Tomlinson's death.
As I said before there is considerable question about the actions of the police officers who were at the scene. The following from the Cardiff Radical Socialist Forum is a press release from eyewitnesses who were at the scene. It should be noted that a direct contact address is provided for those who wish to verify this story.
Press release from G20 witnesses to Ian Tomlinson death :
The following statement has been made from witnesses to the death of Ian Tomlinson:
Various participants in the City of London demonstrations on April 1st have come forward as witnesses to the collapse of a man later identified by authorities as Ian Tomlinson. Four different university students witnessed the collapse of Mr. Tomlinson. “He stumbled towards us from the direction of police and protesters and collapsed,” said Peter Apps. “I saw a demonstrator who was a first aider attend to the person who had collapsed. The man was late 40s, had tattoos on his hands, and was wearing a Millwall shirt.”

While the first aider was helping the man, another demonstrator with a megaphone was calling the police over so that they could help.

Natalie Langford, a student at Queen Mary, said “there was a police charge. A lot of people ran in our direction. The woman giving first aid stood in the path of the crowd.” The running people, seeing a guy on the ground, went around them.

Another demonstrator had already called 999 and was getting medical advice from the ambulance dispatcher. “Four police with two police medics came. They told her [the first aider] to ‘move along’.”, said Peter Apps. “Then they pushed her forcibly away from him. They refused to listen to her [the first aider] when she tried to explain his condition.”

The first aider, who did not wish to be named, said “The police surrounded the collapsed man. I was standing with the person who’d called 999. The ambulance dispatcher wanted to talk to the police, the phone was being held out to them, but the police refused.”

Another witness, Elias Stoakes, added “we didn’t see them [the police] perform CPR.”

Other people who had tried to stay with the collapsed man were also pushed away.

All of the witnesses deny the allegation that many missiles were thrown.

According to Peter Apps, “one bottle was thrown, but it didn’t come close to the police. Nothing was thrown afterwards as other demonstrators told the person to stop. The person who threw the bottle probably didn’t realize that someone was behind the ring of police.” All the witnesses said that the demonstrators were concerned for the well-being of the collapsed man once they realized that there was an injured person.

Natalie Langford said “when the ambulance arrived the protesters got straight out of the way.”

These witnesses are happy to give media statements.

They can be contacted through this press liaison email:
Is there possibly something more sinister to Mr. Tomlinson's death than has been suggested above. This is what the following from the Gaza Solidarity site implies. Molly has to note here that the following, even as it gives extra information about the reaction of Mr. Tomlinson's family to his death, is likely to be wrong in its implications. My personal impression is that the actions of the police, as detailed in the above eyewitnesses statements, were more negligent than active. Still, there is the possibility that Mr. Tomlinson was indeed attacked before his death. The sad thing about this is that, from numerous sources, he was not a participant in the demonstration, merely a passerby. To say the least innocent victims have been attacked by the police in many previous incidents. We'll see how the autopsy turns out.
Ian Tomlinson's wife says he 'died for the crimes of capitalism' :
From Salfordonline
By Martin Baxter in London
Witnesses to the death of a man during yesterday’s G20 protests in the City of London have called for an official inquiry into the incident after seeing what they believe was a murder on the streets of London.
Ian Tomlinson, 47, was apparently on his way home from work as a newsagent, and allegedly collapsed and suffered a heart attack during the protest.
The allegations were made after the widow of the man today lead a march for her partner who she said “died for the crimes of capitalism.”
One female witness who wished to remain anonymous talked of “police brutality and heartlessness” and directly implicated members of the police force in the “murder” of the protester who, in tributes left outside the Royal Exchange in the city, was described as a “hero.”
She spoke of the “unwarranted” attack made by “masked policemen in riot gear.” After being struck in the head by a police baton she said the man was then bloodied and left unconscious on the street.
Ian Tomlinson collapsed in St Michael's Alley close to the junction of Birchin Lane and Cornhill at 7.30pm.
She said the police had formed an “animal pen” around the protesters to contain what was slowly becoming a heated encounter.
In a statement made on behalf of the dead man's wife, witnesses were urged to come forward and give statements to expose “the failures of both the police and members of the media in the accurate reporting of yesterdays incident.”
Gaza Solidarity would like to make clear that Ian's wife has not accused the police of murdering him. Everyone is waiting for the findings of the post-mortem. Sorry for any misunderstanding and our condolences go out to all the family members of Ian.
However, witnesses are confirming what Gaza Solidarity has been reporting from the beginning:Did police murder G20 protester Ian Tomlinson?
Here is a statement that has been making its rounds on the "anarchonet" about the death. As the statements says, whether the death was due to a direct police attack or merely due to negligence, there is still a responsibility that the police must bear. From the Glasgow Anarchists...
Press release of Glasgow Anarchists - Death At The Hands Of Capital:
Yesterday through the actions of the Metropolitan Police a man died during the protests against the G20 in the City of London. How this man died, whether as a result of direct blows from police batons or from the effects of the police “kettling” tactic and their attempts to force people in a direction it was not possible move, his death is their responsibility. We have already seen the BBC, unsurprisingly, peddling the police’s line that his death was due to ‘natural causes’. When they mention it at all that is. Though how it is natural to be penned in by armed thugs like an animal before being beaten and attacked is a tribute to their warped logic. ---- What should not be forgotten in light of this murder is that this is not the first and nor shall it be the last death at the hands of capital.
Everyday people are murdered by states, police, armed forces and militias all over the world. Capital, and its agents, think nothing of human life and profit will always, always come before humanity. Capitalism is directly responsible for the deaths of millions upon millions of people all around the world. From the wars that are fought in pursuit of profit to famine and death through preventable disease to those murdered for resisting its impact upon their communities or for organising for better conditions at work.
As we see the economic situation decline for working people in this country we can expect to see this become starkly clear. As more and more are made homeless, jobless and see their living conditions reduced, the ruling class will continue to live in splendour and affluence upon our backs as their parasitical forebears have done for generations.
The rulers of this country, and indeed this world, live lifestyles of opulent luxury that is beyond the ken of the vast majority of us. These parasites shall not see their blood drenched splendour reduced in the slightest.
Unless that is that we, the honest, hard working people of this world tear their privilege asunder.
These wealthy parasites live off our hard work and we suffer the consequences of the economic games they play in pursuit of ever greater profits for themselves and everyday we, the working class, suffer and die all over the world. This death through police actions yesterday is just one more death in the tragic blood stained history of capitalism.
This is no appeal to calm, rage today on the streets of London. Rage though not at this one death but at the horror and terror inflicted upon our class by the ruling 1% and their agents. Rage against the theft of our world by parasites who sponge off our labour. Rage at having to work your entire life through only to be denied the fruits of the world that is yours by right of birth.
This is no appeal to calm.
This is a difficult one. Like many other situations, different versions say different things. I've been at this game long enough to realize that statements from the side that I favour are often no more worthy of belief than statements from the other side. In some cases they are even less worthy of belief. For what it is worth I think the following:
1)Mr. Tomlinson was probably not a participant in the demonstrations.
2)He did get caught up in a rather stressful situation where he was herded by the police along with the actual demonstrators. This precipitated a heart attack.
3)The police officers at the scene were indeed negligent. This is hardly an unknown situation. The officers involved were flying on adrenaline, and their first impulse was to attack, not to help. It takes a particularly calm person (or good tranquillizers) for any person in such a situation to calmly assess that they should change their mode of action.
4)This negligence means that the officers involved (and the London Police Service in general) are both legally and morally responsible for the death.
I am certainly willing to change my opinion as further facts become available, but this is what I think so far.

1 comment:

mollymew said...

Thanks for the praise.
I actually get quite a few hits from Indonesia. In East Asia Molly's Blog is most popular in Malasia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines, though people from other countries in the area sometimes drop by. Some Indonesian site are listed in the Links section of this blog. Do you have a website that could be listed ?