Thursday, 9 April 2009

THE QUICK AND THE DEAD: 'Terrorism' In Britain

It is instructive that British police can assault innocent bystander Ian Tomlinson, a homeless alcoholic working as a paper-seller, leading to his death by heart attack moments later, and immediately begin releasing a series of lies aimed at covering up their culpability, but no one is held to any immediate account. While it is cause for immediate resignation when Bob Quick, the head of the anti-terrorist squad, decides to play Bozo the clown and expose his unit's top-secret plans to public cameras.

The fact that another policeman, John Dougal, was convicted yesterday of causing the death through dangerous driving of a teenager whom he hit in his police car chasing a car moving at 94mph, driving without lights or siren (so not to give away anything to the car he was pursuing) all of this while his night shift after working a full day as an electrician, merely made this a telling trifecta, marking the path of the transformation of Britain into a police state: a state where the citizens exist by the grace and favour of a self-perpetuating bureaucracy, the sort of thing that C Wright Mills said made 'reflective citizenship' impossible.

The Tomlinson assault and its immediate cover-up is reminiscent of the case of Jean-Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician murdered at Stockwell tube while on his way to work, and raises a few similar questions, and some of a different nature. Incompetance, of course, was also a major factor in the Menezes killing: the surveillance officer missed IDing him because he'd left his post to pee, communications between different units didn't function, operational 'go' words were misundertood. There was also the institutional concept, as articulated first by Ben Hecht and Charles McArthur in The Front Page, of 'production for use'. The officers had their guns, and had to use them. The traffic officer had his high speed car and had to use it. The riot police have their batons and dogs and horses and have to use them.

In light of that, we need to ask what is the basis for the police assumption that anyone on the streets is a protestor, and worse, that any protestor is a violent terorrist? Did no one remember the effects of penning the crowd in Oxford Circus in 2001? The workers penned in for six to eight hours while trying to get back to their jobs after lunch? The tourists trapped on their way to the tube, unable to exit despite displaying their air tickets and passports to the police? The effects of dehydration and heat prostration on that summertime crowd? Tomlinson's killing, and the tactics of corralling which caused it, did not exist in a vacuum.

But the more telling effect of 'kettling' may well be on the police themselves. Like a rugby team in the locker room before a match, or football supporters in the pub for four hours before the match, they are psyching themselves up for conflict, and after six hours on containment, there is aggro bursting to get out.

Given that, why are the police allowed to disguise their identities? In man who hit and shoved Tomlinson wore a balaclava, no warrant card or other ID number was visible on his clothing, and that appears to be the case with the other officers present. This goes back at least to the days of the miners' strike, although then the police were also trying to disguise the fact they were using soldiers to beef up their ranks.

The case has now been referred to the 'Independent' Police Clearance, oh sorry, Complaints Commission, which means no officials need speak about it while it is under 'investigation'. But rest assured, had not spectator footage been available, showing Tomlinson (who may have been struck previously, if the time sequence with the eventually-released Channel 4 footage is right) meandering away, trying to get home, leaning on a bollard, with his back to advancing police dog handlers. One cop, to his right, gives him a slight push as a dog runs into his back. At this, another comes up from his left, whacks him with his truncheon, and shoves him face first to the pavement. He lies on the ground, apparently remonstrating, then gets up and groggily continues, trying to get back to his shelter.

When deMenezes was gunned down, the police immediately spun the story for the gullible press: he had jumped the ticket gates, he was wearing a heavy coat which might have concealed a bomb, he had run from police, the police had identified themselves before firing; all of which were quickly shown to be lies.

When the current 'I' PCC investigation comes out, will the media remember to ask where the police's own CCTV footage from Cornhill is, and check to see how it's edited. It is interesting that we now live in a society where our every move is monitored, yet when that surveillance might work against those in the 'justice' system, it miraculously disappears. Remember, in the Menezes case, all the CCTV cameras in and around Stockwell tube just happened to have 'malfunctioned' simultaneously. By strange coincidence, the judge, 'Sir' Stephen Richards, who handled the Menezes family's case against the police, was himself accused of twice exposing himself to a woman on a commuter train. He elected to have his case heard before a judge, not a jury, and where that judge admitted he was taking his colleague's word over the member of the public, in what boiled down to 'she said, he said', he at least had the grace to say it was only because he laacked 'corroborative evidence'. That evidence, of course, might have been found on the CCTV tapes from Waterloo, except when the police finally got around to checking those cameras, delayed because of their 'heavu case load', they 'discovered' the tapes had been erased, as scheduled, the day before.

Finally, why was the BBC 'not interested' in the spectator footage when the Guardian offered it to them? And why is the story now being buried underneath Quick's resignation. One hopes the raid on the 'possibly aligned to Al Queda cell' produces more results than the one on the Plymouth 'bomb factory' where a family was planning to unleash 'terror' during the G20'; all of them have been released, without charge, to a chorus of silence from the media. They were too busy checking the video to see what Bob Quick's papers said.

No comments :