Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Big Other Finally Noticed


The systematic cover-up by London police - with the passive cooperation of most of the mainstream print and broadcast media - of the circumstances leading to the death of Ian Tomlinson during the April 1st G20 spectacle protest in London should come as no surprise. A full six days elapsed before the Guardian released video footage filmed by, ironically, an American bond-dealer tourist, during which time the police and their 'watchdog' predictably sought to displace blame onto others, from Tomlinson himself (the myth of the self-implicating 'heart attack') to protesters (interfering with medics' attempts to revive Tomlinson) to the media ( The IPCC alsatian attempting to restrain the Guardian from publishing details of Tomlinson being attacked by police minutes before his 'natural' death because it would 'upset Tomlinson's parents'). They almost succeeded.




The Guardian's Paul Lewis summarizes the chronology of events:




How the story changed ...

Wednesday April 1. Ian Tomlinson, 47, a newspaper vendor, collapses and
dies at the G20 protests. In a statement that night, the Metropolitan police
says that medics were temporarily impeded from helping him as "a number of
missiles - believed to be bottles - were being thrown at them".

Thursday April 2. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
says it will "assess the circumstances".

Friday April 3. A postmortem finds that Tomlinson died of a heart
attack. The Guardian contacts City of London police - tasked with conducting the
investigation into Tomlinson's death on behalf of the IPCC - and says it has
obtained photographs of him lying on the pavement at the feet of riot
police.

Sunday April 5. The Guardian's photographs are published, along with
the testimony of three named witnesses who describe him being hit with a baton
or thrown to the ground by police. The IPCC criticises the Guardian for
upsetting Tomlinson's family. It tells other journalists that there is "nothing
in the story" that he had been assaulted by an officer.

Monday April 6. The IPCC confirms Tomlinson had contact with police. It
continues to "manage" an investigation conducted by City police, some of whose
officers were pictured at the site of Tomlinson's alleged assaults.

Tuesday April 7. At 2am, the Guardian receives video footage that
clearly shows Tomlinson was hit with a baton and pushed to the floor by a riot
officer. That afternoon, it publishes the footage on its website and hands a
dossier of evidence to the IPCC.

Wednesday April 8. The IPCC reverses its decision to allow City police
to investigate the death.

Thursday April 9. The Met suspends the officer shown in the footage; 48
hours on, he has still not been questioned by the IPCC.

Friday April 10. Tomlinson's father says he believes the police acted
with excessive force









What is increasingly clear from all the video footage and the eyewitness reports, is that Tomlinson cracked his head against the concrete pavement after being knocked over by a cop (one eyewitness 'winced' upon hearing the sound), while the rushed postmortem that concluded that his death was the result of a 'heart attack' has already been discredited: the freelance pathologist called in by the police turns out to be an incompetent loon, having previously, among other bizarre determinations, also attributed the death of a murdered woman to a 'heart attack', a finding that enabled the unstable suspect to be released to murder yet another two women.

The indifference to Tomlinson's death of much of the media, especially the BBC, prior to the wide release of the watershed video comes on the heels of their seeming acceptance of Section 76 of the Terrorism Act, which is being increasingly invoked to ban all photographing of police activity, of officers, of their vehicles, of their buildings, and in spite of this recent protest against the ban outside Scotland Yard headquarters by hundreds of NUJ photographers:










The risk now is that what K-punk describes as the romance of a politics of failure will escalate further, the libidinal investments intensified, with state power more rigidly and obscenely implementing the 'Terrorism Act' against protesters while the reflexively impotent acting-out of the protesters themselves continues serving to postpone their giving up on "the gratification of displaying wounds inflicted by the police as signs of grace, evidence that we are on the side of the Good" while further elevating the spectacle of a 'feelgood simulation of politics' devoid of any direct political organization that acts without the need for recognition or permission from the Big Other.

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