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From: The Socialist issue 728, 25 July 2012: Olympic Britain - We’re priced out

Search site for keywords: Police - Protest - Family - Aid - G20

Not-guilty verdict in Ian Tomlinson case

End police violence

Claire Laker-Mansfield

"Police officers pelted with bricks as they help dying man" read the Evening Standard's headline on 2 April 2009.

The previous day the police had released the following statement about the death of a man at the G20 protests: "The officers [while trying desperately to save the man's life] took the decision to move him as a number of missiles - believed to be bottles - were being thrown at them." In subsequent statements they explained that the man had died of natural causes and that this death was 'not a surprise' to his family.

Had it not been for the amateur video footage which categorically proved this version of events to be a lie this probably would have remained the 'official' story.

The now famous footage showed how Ian Tomlinson, a newspaper seller trying to make his way home from work, was beaten with a truncheon and pushed to the ground in an unprovoked attack by a police officer. Numerous witnesses subsequently confirmed that first aid was administered to Tomlinson by protesters and not the police.

No conviction

One might assume that this evidence would have been enough to ensure the swift prosecution and conviction of the officer involved. You might also expect a serious investigation into the way the police behaved more generally on the day. In particular, the 'kettling' of thousands of demonstrators for several hours and the police's routine use of violence were widely condemned.

But three years later, following the eventual prosecution of Simon Hayward - the officer who, according to the verdict reached at a coroners court in May, 'unlawfully killed' Tomlinson - no one has yet been convicted of his manslaughter.

The not guilty verdict reached on 19 July at Hayward's trial was an obvious blow to Ian Tomlinson's family. But it is also of far wider significance. This case, its attempted police cover up and eventual 'conclusion', laid bare for millions the total unaccountability of the police as well as something of their role in repression.

The Socialist Party calls for a genuinely independent inquiry into the events of 1 April 2009. This should include representatives of the trade unions, activists involved in the protest and members of the wider public. And we need police accountability through democratic control by working class people.

Defend the right to protest

As the capitalist class and their representatives in parliament attempt to make ordinary people pay a higher and higher price for their crisis, they take tougher and tougher measures to try and stem the swelling tide of opposition. For this reason it's vital that we defend the right to protest, and fight for an end to police brutality and repression.

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