Saturday, 18 April 2009

No justice, no peace...

Today, as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) received reports of a third incident at the G20 protests, we learned that a second post-mortem on Ian Tomlinson has revealed internal hemorrhaging as the cause of death. The Independent reports that "the police officer who pushed Ian Tomlinson to the ground before his death at the G20 protests is facing a manslaughter charge" after the verdict.

This is just the latest turn in a sage that has raised the quite natural suggestion arose that the police "misled the media." Among the evidence for this claim is the fact that the claims of a heart-attack in the initial post-mortem were made by Dr Freddy Patel, who "had previously been reprimanded by the General Medical Council" for gross misconduct, and that "a Metropolitan Police statement initially said that officers had been pelted with bottles as they tried in vain to save Mr Tomlinson" before amateur footage showing the truth emerged. Also of concern is the revelation that although "all Met officers in uniform are required to display identity letters and numbers," at demos officers "appear to be trying to conceal them" or "have removed them" altogether.

In its leading article, The Daily Mail sums up the typical response from statists and apologists for the police. Though the death of an utterly innocent man is "can never be accepted," of much greater concern is "the witch-hunt being whipped up by the Left against the police." Because the police were so bravely "were defending property," the cause of the greatest injustices in society, "a small but brutal rump of G20 rioters bent on violence and destruction," an expected label for opponents of the state who cannot be hemmed into "free speech pens" where they will not be heard. Thus, police actions can be written off as "tempers lost," which though "unacceptable" is "very understandable."

Ultimately, though the individual officers "must be punished" as fall guys, we should reject "the virulence of the anti-police sentiments" that has prevailed with greater realisation the fact that "tempers lost" against protesters and innocents are institutional in police forces. We must "trust and admir[e]" the police, because they are "the only defence between the law-abiding and respectable and the forces of anarchy, crime and corruption," better known as a public that refuses to accept the injustices of the state and its enforcers.

And that is exactly what we need to be. In the inquests following the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, the police all but exonerated themselves. True, there was some finger-wagging from the more liberal end of the mainstream spectrum, but ultimately the police got away with murder. It was not the first time, and Ian Tomlinson will not be the last. When Greek police murdered Alexandros Grigoropoulos in December, it sparked riots by setting off the powder-keg of long-simmering public unrest, which continues to the present.

Perhaps such a reaction is what we need in the UK as well. Though it would make us a "brutal rump of ... rioters bent on violence and destruction" in the eyes of the ruling elite, it should be noted that those who have struggled before us and won what liberties we enjoy today were viewed in exactly the same light.