The trial of a police officer accused of causing Ian Tomlinson’s death during 2009’s demonstration against the G20 summit continues. Will the jury have a chance to examine the pressures the police were under that day?
Some will cry that the police are paid to be under pressure. I cannot join in, because I have never stood for hours in front of a baying, hostile mob inside hot protective clothing, armed with intelligence that persons unknown might attempt a murder.
A few days beforehand a video had been posted on the current.com community called Government of the dead: hang a banker. The calls to "hang the bankers" came from anthropologist Dr Chris Knight, who was suspended from his post at the University of East London for suggesting in couched language that he would not condemn lethal force:
We are going to be hanging a lot of people like Fred the Shred [Sir Fred Goodwin] from lampposts on April Fool’s Day and I can only say let’s hope they are just effigies. To be honest, if he winds us up any more I’m afraid there will be real bankers hanging from lampposts and let’s hope that that doesn’t actually have to happen.
The police, therefore, were facing the possibility that some of Knight’s disciples intended to kill. No wonder tensions were high.
All of which is not to condone the killing of Ian Tomlinson, who was trying to recover from problematic and damaging alcohol use in order to get off the streets and be accepted back into his family. PC Simon Harwood may have provided the immediate cause of Mr Tomlinson’s cardiac arrest. Ultimately, however, he was sentenced to death by Chris Knight and his associates – left-wing chocolate soldiers whose MO is to start battles then melt away to leave others to die in them, even (or should that be especially?) if they are innocent bystanders.