the London police killed a defenseless, unarmed protester at the G20 summit

The words above are really the most accurate way of describing what happened.

As usual, stellar reporting by the Guardian, who have now made a breakthrough in the question of the police brutality at the G20 summit. They have obtained video of a man named Ian Tomlinson being pushed and struck with a baton, from behind, while walking away, slowly, with his hands in his pockets. He died a few minutes later from a heart attack. Here is the video:

What riot police in general quite simply do not seem to get is that the reason we shouldn't use violence unless attacked is that our bodies, while equipped to handle a certain level of violence, are put in jeopardy by violence. As anyone who has experienced violence firsthand can tell you, it is always, no matter how slight, a shock to the system. Even when you are an unhurt party, the rest of the day is ruined by the adrenaline shakes and constant reruns in your head of what happened.

When they shield bash unarmed protesters with their hands in the air, every single blow risks incapacitating, wounding, traumatising or killing a protester. Baton strikes to the thigh, like mr Tomlinson experienced, are incredibly dangerous. In US prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, heavy blows to the thigh ("peroneal strikes") have caused fatal damage – clots or infarcts – in abused prisoners, and was the cause of death of several prisoners in the Bagram abuse case.

Police officers are used to violence, and so probably think of it as part of their everyday life. To the rest of us, it can be instantly traumatising. Having The State push you down from behind can really ruin your day. In Mr. Tomlinson's case. He got so wound up, he died. That's a heavy shame for the London Metropolitan Police to bear. They were used as instruments of political violence and ended up killing a man.

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Blogger suttonhoo said...

so true, and well put.

a friend of mine was waiting for a bus when a pick pocket on the run barreled past her and knocked her down. she died from that fall.

there was a fellow who lived in Boulder when I was a student -- he was a practicing Buddhist monk who stepped slowly and carefully and banged a drum with each step so as to warn all living things -- even the small creatures he couldn't see -- to step out of the way. at the time it struck me as extreme -- after Kay was killed it made sense.

April 14, 2009 3:04 am  
Blogger mrtn said...

That's terrible. But that's just the thing. If you're being reckless, you become responsible for the safety of everyone around you.

April 14, 2009 7:35 am  

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