Exclusive footage obtained by the Guardian shows Ian Tomlinson, who died during G20 protests in London, was attacked from behind by baton–wielding police officer
Dramatic footage obtained by the Guardian shows that the man who died at last week’s G20 protests in London was attacked from behind and thrown to the ground by a baton–wielding police officer in riot gear.
Moments after the assault on Ian Tomlinson was captured on video, he collapsed to the ground and despite attempts by fellow protestors was pronounced dead shortly after*.
This was not an isolated incident. The police operation on 1st April was a disgrace.
Watch this short film of the police operation in Bishopsgate where the police attacked peaceful protestors demonstrating against climate change measures.
The footage clearly shows the campers calling out “this is not a riot” and holding their arms in the air, while riot police surge forward wielding batons and shields in an unprovoked attack.
Bikes, tents and personal belongings were damaged and lost in the attacks. Several people were injured. There were reports of several arrests. At one point a small group of people are trapped between riot police coming in from a side entrance on the east, and more pushing up from the south.
This footage must be seen by the justice committee on ‘policing protests’. Almost every one of their recommendations are broken.
The Guardian is preparing to hand a dossier of evidence to the police complaints watchdog on the death of Ian Tomlinson.
It sheds new light on the events surrounding the death of the 47-year-old newspaper seller, who had been on his way home from work when he was confronted by lines of riot police near the Bank of England.
The submission to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) includes a collection of testimonies from witnesses, along with the video footage, shot at around 7.20pm, which shows Tomlinson at Royal Exchange Passage.
The film reveals that as he walks, with his hands in his pockets, he does not speak to the police or offer any resistance.
A phalanx of officers, some with dogs and some in riot gear, are close behind him and try to urge him forward.
A Metropolitan police officer appears to strike him with a baton, hitting him from behind on his upper thigh.
Moments later, the same policeman rushes forward and, using both hands, pushes Tomlinson in the back and sends him flying to the ground, where he remonstrates with police who stand back, leaving bystanders to help him to his feet.
The man who shot the footage, a fund manager from New York who was in London on business, said: “The primary reason for me coming forward is that it was clear the family were not getting any answers.”
The Guardian’s dossier also includes a sequence of photographs, taken by three different people, showing the aftermath of the attack, as well as witness statements from people in the area at the time.
A number of witnesses provided time and date-stamped photographs that substantiate their accounts.
Some said they saw police officers attack Tomlinson.
Witnesses said that, prior to the moment captured on video, he had already been hit with batons and thrown to the floor by police who blocked his route home.
One witness, Anna Branthwaite, a photographer, described how, in the minutes before the video was shot, she saw Tomlinson walking towards Cornhill Street.
“A riot police officer had already grabbed him and was pushing him,” she said.
“It wasn’t just pushing him – he’d rushed him. He went to the floor and he did actually roll. That was quite noticeable.
“It was the force of the impact. He bounced on the floor. It was a very forceful knocking down from behind. The officer hit him twice with a baton when he was lying on the floor.
“So it wasn’t just that the officer had pushed him – it became an assault.
“And then the officer picked him up from the back, continued to walk or charge with him, and threw him.
“He was running and stumbling. He didn’t turn and confront the officer or anything like that.”
The witness accounts contradict the official version of events given by police.
In an official statement on the night of Tomlinson’s death, the Metropolitan police made no reference to any contact with officers and simply described attempts by police medics and an ambulance crew to save his life after he collapsed – efforts they said were marred by protesters throwing missiles as first aid was administered .
The force said officers had created a cordon around Tomlinson to give him CPR.
“The officers took the decision to move him as during this time a number of missiles – believed to be bottles – were being thrown at them,” it said.
Yesterday, the IPCC began managing an investigation by City of London police into the circumstances of Tomlinson’s death after the Guardian published photographs of him on the ground and witness statements indicated he had been assaulted by police officers.
The IPCC commissioner for London, Deborah Glass, said: “Initially, we had accounts from independent witnesses who were on Cornhill, who told us that there had been no contact between the police and Mr Tomlinson when he collapsed.”
“However, other witnesses who saw him in the Royal Exchange area have since told us that Mr Tomlinson did have contact with police officers.
“This would have been a few minutes before he collapsed. It is important that we are able to establish as far as possible whether that contact had anything to do with his death.”
The IPCC added that Tomlinson was captured on CCTV walking onto Royal Exchange Passage.
“This is the aspect of the incident that the IPCC is now investigating,” it said.
It was here the video was shot. A post mortem carried out by a Home Office pathologist last Friday revealed Tomlinson died of a heart attack.
Prior to seeing the dossier of evidence, Tomlinson’s family said in a statement: “There were so many people around where Ian died, and so many people with cameras, that somebody must have seen what happened in the Royal Exchange passageway.
“We need to know what happened there and whether it had anything to do with Ian’s death.
“We know that some people who were at the protest may not feel comfortable talking to the police.
“People are putting pictures on the internet, writing on blogs and talking to journalists. But we really need them to talk to the people who are investigating what happened.”
The attack and subsequent death of Ian Tomlinson is an attack against every man and woman in the country. It could have been any of us in that position at that time. It is an attack that must be responded to. This is another example of how the government will behave when the people speak up or raise their voice. It cannot be swept under the carpet. Make no mistake, the signal from Downing Street was clearly to come down hard on protestors.
The Metropolitan police had contacted a number of protest groups in the week before warning that the main day of protest, Wednesday, 1 April would be “very violent”, and senior commanders made clear that they were “up for it, and up to it”, should there be any trouble.
Make no mistake, this was a public display of brutality and aggression aimed at getting a message across. The majority of protestors were peaceful but were met with pent up aggression and organised violence. A pumped up mob of testosterone fuelled officers in riot gear that had been given the green light to go and smash some skulls. I am amazed their is only one death to report.
R.I.P IAN TOMLINSON 2009
*It is now known that the cause of death was as a result of internal bleeding caused by the blows from the police officer’s assault. The officer has now come forwards and is being charged with manslaughter.
Simon Keyes is the Director at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace which is located at the site where last week’s G20 protestors set up their climate camp, in Bishopsgate, City of London. Here are his thoughts on the whole episode as viewed from the St Ethelburga’s Centre.
City folk returned to their desks this morning to find almost every physical trace of yesterday’s Climate Camp erased. Even the chalk slogans on the road had been scrubbed off. Our banner “We’re all in this together” looks a little forlorn and it’s probably a planning irregularity now. I am tempted to leave it for a day or two to prompt people to reflect on what happened yesterday
I observed the protest throughout the day. I saw very little trouble. Early on the Police won the approval of the crowd for the efficient way they isolated and dispersed an incongruous group of young men in black masks. Hundreds of cameras recorded the Police’s every move and I didn’t envy them being so exposed doing such tricky work.
For the rest of the day, the protest seemed to me to be unfailingly good-humoured. The music and dancing, the creativity of the slogans, and the bold splashes of colour brought smiles to onlookers’ faces. I could see office workers at their windows clearly enjoying the spectacle. The speed with which make-shift kitchens and even a latrine appeared was impressive. For several hours the protesters managed to create a friendly, festival atmosphere. Opposite St Ethelburga’s the main attraction seemed to be a group of people meditating. My over-riding impression was that the organisers had thought hard about how to get their point across in an effective and nonviolent way. I understand a lot of consensus decision-making was going on.
But late last night it was a different story. I emerged from St Ethelburga’s at 10.15 to find the police presence massively increased. Most were now dressed in black combat gear with helmets, riot shields and batons. Many had balaclava face coverings. A fleet of armoured cars blocked the junction outside Gibson Hall, blue lights flashing, and there seemed to be horses behind them. A helicopter hovered low, shining a powerful searchlight, its noise adding to the uncomfortable atmosphere of menace. It was obvious someone had decided not to allow the Camp to remain for its stated 24 hour period.
The protesters were quieter than earlier and seemed intent on ignoring the police. I saw no disorder or drunkenness and there were still moments when dancing and singing broke out. Earlier I had watched whilst three young women dancing on a police van were removed. There was laughter and applause but no hostile reaction. I listened to a storyteller entertaining a group sitting on the road.
A Guardian journalist standing next to me told me the police were waiting for the media to leave and would then evict the camp. He said the demonstrators had been confined in a “kettle” (to allow the temperature to rise) and no-one had been allowed to leave for several hours. After watching for a few a few minutes, I was grabbed by the elbow and brusquely led away by an excitable young police woman “This is a sterile area and you must not be here”. I pointed to our banner. You will be hurt, she said. I could see no violence “There will be” she replied.
I can see that people climbed over our gate last night, which isn’t easy given the spikes and paint we installed on police advice. I asked the police about this and was told that this may have happened when people were trying “to get out of the way”. Of what?
Perhaps there’s a clue in the reported 88 police arrests, mostly after 7.00pm I understand. It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that considerable force was used against the protestors in the unreported early hours of this morning.
Naturally there are contested histories. A police officer tells me a number of “undesirable interlopers” joined the protestors around 9.00pm and this led to an “edict” around 11.00 to remove the camp. A protester who was present says the police closed in at 7.00pm using riot shields and thereafter refused to allow people to leave (and presumably enter) the camp.
Throughout the day orange-jacketed “legal observers” kept notes on what happened, and it will be helpful for them to publish details of what they saw. There are some media reports such as Sky’s Catherine Jacobs.
London’s Mayor, Boris Johnston said on Tuesday “I would urge those planning to demonstrate to honour the great, democratic tradition of peaceful, constructive protest, without the need to resort to violent or illegal activity.”
I imagine that the Climate Camp protestors feel they took this responsibility seriously, so why did it end like this?
The Big Brother State is an educational film about what politicians claim to be protection of our freedom but what we refer to as repressive legislation.
Since terrorism has become a global threat, especially after 9/11, governments all over the world have started enforcing laws which, so the governments say, should increase national security.
These laws obviously aim at another goal: the states gaining more and more control of their citizens at the cost of our privacy and freedom.
Watch this short animation in better quality here