Archive for April 2nd, 2009

I have no patience with those who resort to violent protest, or worse, deliberately go to protests to provoke police and engage in violent acts against the police. Equally, I have no patience with Police when they exceed their powers and use violence.

I watched this film with mounting anger and a sense of shame that Police in our country could use riot shields and batons, capable of inflicting severe pain and injury, on a group of demonstrators who held their hands up and shouted “This is not a riot”.

The film records fairly extreme Police action; action which appears disproportionate in the circumstances.

I quote from one of the commenters on the Indymedia London page – Carbondave and leave you to make your own minds up.  I know what I think of this behaviour by the Police.

“I wonder if they are trained in using the ‘riot’ ‘shield’ as an offensive weapon – if so this footage would make a good training video – except what they are doing is of course not only immoral, disgraceful, shameful and sickening, it also happens to be illegal.

Which Police Dept, or Police Complaints Dept, Ombudsman or other upholder of Justice in our country, will be chosen to study this footage and decide how many police to arrest and press charges against. Looks like hudreds to me.

200 Police arrested for criminal behavour at Climate Camp. Now that would be a headline. Wonder if they ask themselves, when they go home, exactly when it was that they realised they were no longer public servants.”

UPDATE : The Magistrate’s Blog picked up this postDo have a look at the comments on The Magistrates blog post. They are interesting and giove a reasoned and balanced view of police riot control techniques generally, with some very useful observations from people who were actually at the protest.

UPDATE: Sunday 5th April 2009:  From The Observer

Police ‘assaulted’ bystander who died during G20 protests

UPDATE Tuesday 7th April 2009

The Guardian has a particlarly disturbing film of Ian Tomlinson being pushed over by a police officer. Tomlinson had his hands in his pockets, with his back to police and was walking away from them.  He was pushed by an officer, and fell over with his hands still in his pockets.  Ian Tomlinson died later.

There were no edits in this film as far as I could see, no immediate threat to Police from Tomlinson – yet he was pushed from behind by a policeman in riot gear.  Is this policing we should accept?  Is this an example of Police showing restraint, good discipline and bravery?  What excuse can the police come up with to excuse this excessive use of force?   A man died soon after this action.  There is a possible causal link – such is not beyond the bounds of possibility and may yet be confirmed by experts.

Make you own mind up when you see the film footage.

See also: Is this the type of Policing we want in our country and the comments.

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G20 Day 1….. Charon reports…

Shortly after dawn yesterday I put out my cigarette, climbed aboard a Tiger Tank purchased on ebay but hours before and rumbled up the King’s Road in Chelsea, heading for The City.  Today my quest was different… to find President Sarkozy of France… it was going to be difficult to find him.  Quite apart from the fact that he was threatening not to come to G20 unless Obamassiah played with his ball, Sarkozy is small and difficult to see from inside a Tiger Tank… but, be that as it may.

As with my invasion of La France on New Year’s Eve, I was able to report on #G20 on Twitter – using the hashtag.  I cover the events of the day by interweaving a few tweets with commentary and analysis…

1st April : Morning

Tweet: Obama calls for g20 global action. Useful as he has come all this way…, #g20

I arrived in The City and parked up near The Bank of England shortly before 11.30

Tweet: Police very busy looking at each other and issuing parking ticket to journos #G20 Riot!!! London

All is quiet, when suddenly…  news breaks.

Tweet: Police stop armoured car at riot (Not mine tho) have Churchill Insurance so OK #G20

I watch the protesters gathering, some putting blue tents up.  The atmosphere at this stage was light, carnival like;  the lines of yellow jacketed police (not in riot gear at this stage) bright in the morning sun.

Tweet: BBC autocuties hyperventilating with excitement as man with hoodie spotted in City #G20 Much ‘wetness’

But then…..

Tweet: Breaking news: 10 people were trying to break into a building in the Holborn area of central London. (BBC) were they keen lawyers? #G20

I came across some superb pics of the G20 summit courtesy of a link on Twitter provided by @infobunny (who else!) The pics by Silversprite are worth looking at. I am ‘borrowing’ a couple)

Tweet: Good morning Sir, asks a Policeman. I hope your Tiger Tank has an MOT? I tell him it has. Mind how you go, Sir, he says #G20

Tweet: I can’t find any news to report… no rioting yet… watching journos filming each other … hyperventilating now

Tweet: Parked the Tiger Tank opposite Bank of England… swivelling turret now. May have coffee break from riots as don’t seem to be any yet #G20

Tweet: Obama has just texted me to say world facing most severe crisis since yesterday #G20

I light a cigarette, sitting in the turret of the tank. I watch.  Frankly… I was a bit bored at this stage.

Tweet: Where are all the SWAMPIES?.. I want to interview a swampy … NOW! #G20

I call over a guy with long matted hair and a beard.  He looks mildly spaced out… it could be cider.. it could be a hangover from the night before.  It is just after midday.

Tweet: Good afternoon Mr Swampy… why are you here? To promote poverty he told me. #G20… I’m up for that, I told him #G20

I can hear the BBC prattling on in my earpiece.

Tweet: 5000 police on streets, BBC reports… Financial Fools Day say protesters in a stunning display of synchronised rioting.. #G20

The crowds around The Bank of England reminded me of the queues around Northern Wreck when it went tits up.

One protester told me… get your money out of the Bank of England quick…. before they get it… Good idea, I told him #G20

Tweet: BBC cameras film thousands at Bank of England… is it a run on the Bank of England??? Is it?? #G20

Tweet: Environmentalists, anticapitalists and the Four horsemen of Apocalypse arrive at protest, some wearing Chanel suits… excitment mounts #G20

Good Grief… I see this Tweet appear on my laptop, resting on the top of the turret… “contwext Trendy users tweeting about G20 – @feralcatz, @rmcc4444, @mottv, @alexwatts, @juliareid21, @charonqc, @emtemporeal, @flashgates, @cer, …

This spurs me on to hyperbolation.

Tweet: Environmentalists, anticapitalists and the Four horsemen of Apocalypse arrive at protest, some wearing Chanel suits… excitment mounts #G20

Hang on… I’m just getting feed live from BBC studio… heavy breathing… autocutie is hyperventilating with excitement… but still nothing is really happening despite the best efforts of the BBCs John Sopel and some guy called Ben who is standing in the crowd reporting for BBC… *Live from the killing fields*.

Tweet: Come on Tim! someone shouts from the crowd at G20 Riot / protest… Cliff Richard to sing later?? #G20

I look around from my vantage point in the tank. Not even The Pope gets these crowds on mumbo jumbo day in the Vatican…. I thought.

Tweet: Will the rioters be breaking for lunch? – a tourist has asked me. Yes… we’re British rioters, I replied #G20

Tweet: BBC Going over to Ben Brown to take us through events…. Ben has nothing really to say… but says sunny #G20

Tweet: I’ve been offered a piece of cake from the Women’s Institute  Special Riot Group… very civil of her … excellent cake #G20

Tweet: Lots of people setting up tents in Bishopsgate… taking a close look.. living in sustainable way for 24 hours. bollocks #G20

Tweet: BBC commentator says in other countries we would have water cannon by now… sounds very disappointed! Carry on Camping he says #G20

I’m thinking at this stage that it may well be time for a toasted chicken sandwich. Fortunately, I have my toaster with me.  I also have my hip flask.  This takes a third of a bottle of Rioja.

Tweet: Tense moment… a Swampy is shouting at a policeman… is this the TIPPING POINT? Police being goaded now… should City close now? #G20

Tweet: An effigy of a banker hangs from a traffic lights in Threadneedle St, City, London says a reporter  – sun shining so some good news #G20

I log in to the Twitter #G20 coverage to see if anyone is actually writing anything sensible…

Tweet: @FranSA: Urine running down the street as guys pee against buildings. No fair. What’s a girl to do? #G20

Tweet: @jamiepotter: Police told me off for chalking ‘under the paving stones, the beach’. Reclaim the streets! #G20

BUT THEN THINGS TURNED NASTY or kicked off as they say in the modern vernacular…

Leader of the Libertarian Party UK Ian Parker-Joseph tweeted: @IanPJ Protesters attempt to smash windows of RBS building in City, police now deployed in riot gear. #G20

Tweet: Breaking News: From @Oedipus_Lex NOOOOOOO! Church’s shoe shop has been hit! #G20

Tweet: @IanPJ Smashing of windows at RBS branch looks staged. 1 protester smashed, surrounded by press and other photographers. #G20

I break off to respond to a tweet from my friend, the exceptional Ms R – who knows a thing or two and who knows how to write.

Tweet: @ladyrobinson Sarkozy… pfffttt… a miniature Frenchman of no concern to the drinking classes #G20

And then it went very sour…

Man dies during G20 protests in London
Guardian: Day of protests that began peacefully turn sour as man dies during G20 demonstrations

  • **

Moving away from the protest to the summit itself…

G20 summit: European demands threaten to wreck deal

The Times reports that France and Germany delivered a late threat to derail Gordon Brown’s efforts to secure a global recovery deal last night by demanding new concessions from the United States on financial regulation.

Gordon slithers about looking rather creepy when Obama is about… calls someone from the press ‘my good friend’… and Michelle Obama gives HM The Queen a protocol breaching hug.  It has to be said… The Queen seemed to give her one back – and why not! (The Sun)

Who knows whether anything will come of the G20 summit.  I don’t really think we need President Merkin of Germany and the French miniature president, Sarkozy, to bang their high heels on the table – that will, like the unpleasant violence at the protest, achieve absolutely nothing.  What we do need is for world leaders to sit down and try and solve the problems we face.  Hopefully they will come up with a plan!

And on that note… I may well cover G20 Day 2 tomorrow… but now… it is Rioja time – a bit early, I grant you, but driving a Tiger Tank is thirsty business I can tell you.

best as always


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Some fools did march on Fools day as events turned ugly at the G20 protest.  Editorial, news, law reports and news from the profession – and the daily news podcast now up on Insite Law.

Update on what is happening in the law blogs follows later in the day.

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