The great majority of the police, seemingly ever-patient and self-controlled, stood for hours as kids baited and yelled, shoved and provoked. A handful of officers used well-placed elbows while batons were raised only in response to the vandalism.
~ G20 protesters strike at London’s heart, Paola Totaro, The Age, April 2, 2009
Paola Totaro is the London-based Europe correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. In this capacity, Totaro recently authored a series of articles on the G20 Summit in London:
- British police prepare for summer of rage, March 28, 2009
Leaked UK crisis plan meets with scorn, March 30, 2009
British police arrest five over G20 protests, March 31, 2009
Sarkozy threatens to snub summit, April 1, 2009
Angry anarchists ready for day of London mayhem, April 2, 2009
G20 protesters strike at London’s heart, April 2, 2009
Lack of La Bruni fails to Rein on parade, April 2, 2009
G20 agree to $US1 trillion global cash injection, April 3, 2009
Obama steals show in London, April 3, 2009
‘Family photo’ gets the thumbs up as nature calls, April 3, 2009
G20 sign biggest deal of all, April 4, 2009
Not unexpectedly, Totaro’s writing assumes the attributes and perspectives of her presumed readership. To be precise, the liberal middle class: “Compared to the Herald Sun, The Age attracts 72,000 more AB readers across Mon-Fri, 163,000 more AB readers on Saturday, and 75,000 more on Sunday.” (See also: December 2008 Circulation and Readership [PDF].)
Thus “[i]n eastern and central Europe” there were “years of boom in the wake of the fall of the Iron Curtain”, while “Protesters are using Twitter, the fast, mobile-phone based social networking tool, to stay ahead of police”. Like Ian Bone’s decision to wear “a well-cut dark overcoat, [a] scarf tied nattily at the neck, [and] an elegant gold ring”, the ability of ‘protesters’ to utilise technology is — apparently — remarkable.
In December, Totaro described ‘YouTube, Facebook fan fallout over slain Greek teen’ (Sydney Morning Herald, December 12, 2008). According to Fairfax’s Europe correspondent — and contrary to the mountains of evidence to the contrary; remarked upon for at least the last decade or more — anarchist and other troublemakers only discovered teh Intertubes when Facebook and YouTube did. Mind you, Paola also writes “In Turkey, 12 [sic] protesters were reported to have painted the Greek consulate in the same colour red used on the Turkish flag”; alternatively, in the colour of blood. Which has, like, symbolic resonance?
As for G20, while Totaro believes police were extremely patient, never aggressive, and employed violence only when themselves subject to assault, the death of Ian Tomlinson and, moreover, the existence of video footage which demonstrates that he was the subject of an unprovoked assault, renders her account slightly silly; a product of privilege, not experience. That she should then proceed to blame protesters for pissing on the streets when, in reality, access to public toilets was denied them by police, further suggests that Totaro is not only naive, but genuinely ignorant of police tactics; tactics which, largely as a result of Ian’s death at the hands of an extremely patient police action, are now subject to rather widespread criticism.
On dealing with the police tactic of kettling in particular, see ‘FITwatch suggestions for dealing with public order policing on G20 protests’, FITWatch, March 29, 2009; the Earth First! Guide to Public Order Situations is also useful, as is the following doc: UK Riot Police 2009. “The British police public order tactics manual is a secret document establishing a paramilitary third force in the UK, under the control of a private company ACPO with permission from the home office…” The series of articles Why the police riot? (January 17–March 22, 2009) is also available on Indymedia UK.
Finally, Musab Younis has been busy ‘Correcting the media narrative of the G20 protests on April 1, 2009’ (April 6, 2009) @ Ceasefire zine, while some other foreign-sounding quack — ‘janos’? hmpf! — has compiled a lovely series of photographic imgs of the protests: chapter 1: the anarchists are coming! | chapter 2 part 1: storm the banks? | chapter 2 part 2: a tale of kettles, and death | chapter 3: police work.
The Met police treated the demonstrators as criminals, corralling thousands in socalled “kettles” of containment for several hours. They were also reliably reported to snarl: “Now for the fun” while putting on riot gear. A witness saw three coppers smash a man against scaffolding and beat him with truncheons. When he escaped, a riot officer chased him shouting: “Do you want a piece of this, huh, do you want to come and get some?” ~ Act Quick to tame the police, Paul Routledge, Daily Mirror, April 10, 2009
- I was a part of the G20 protest in the peaceful Climate Camp, and we were rushed by police, and beaten despite having our hands in the air chanting ‘this is not a riot’, I was brutally assaulted for NO reason, knocked out and was taken to hospital via ambulance just for sitting on the floor. People there were hurt for NO reason and so was poor Ian. ~ littletreepixi, YouTube, April 10, 2009
Today was a pretty shameful day for the Metropolitan Police. During a peaceful static demonstration at Climate Camp in Bishopsgate, Metropolitan riot police stormed through the barricades without warning and unprovoked. They batonned unarmed protesters who were holding up their hands and chanting “Peace not Riot” in a show of non-violence. Many were knocked to the ground and numerous individuals injured in this disgraceful act of brutality.
These protesters, who were exercising their democratic right to demonstrate, were then barricaded into the street unable to leave until around 11.30pm. ~ G20 Climate Camp ‘Riot Police’, woo-war, flickr, April 1, 2009
Bristle’s Blog from the BunKRS has excellent coverage. Another blog, What I saw, provides eyewitness accounts of the actions of the ever-patient-and-self-controlled-police-who-stood-for-hours-as-kids-baited-and-yelled-and-shoved-and-provoked.
‘Growing evidence of police brutality at G20 protests’ reckons the mob @ Last Hours; they oughta get in touch with Totaro.
See also : APEC : Paddy “surprised and very happy” Gibson (March 9, 2009) | Deputy Sheriff Paul Schene assaulted by “real lippy” teenage carjacker Malika Calhoun (March 3, 2009) | Oscar Grant murdered in San Francisco… (January 8, 2009) | Failure to communicate : Epaminondas Korkoneas in court (December 12, 2008) | The police murder of Andreas Grigoropoulos (December 10, 2008) | Always Look On The Bright Side of Life : The AIDEX ‘91 Story (November 24, 2008) | Chris Hurley : Promotion and $100,000 | Lex Wotton : Six Years Prison (November 7, 2008) | Beating Up: A Report on Police Batons and the News Media at the World Economic Forum, Melbourne, September 2000, Dr. Bernard Barrett, November 28, 2000.
1. Making history
In a Melbourne street, just before dawn on Tuesday 12 September 2000, television cameras recorded a significant event in Australia’s political history. Baton-wielding police, from the paramilitary Force Response Unit, swooped upon 50 citizens who were holding a political assembly on a major public issue. The police wore helmets and visors, making their faces unrecognisable. Furthermore, most had removed their personal name tags from their jackets, thereby becoming unaccountable.
The 50 civilians were sitting passively and quietly on the pavement at a vehicle gateway outside Melbourne’s Crown Casino. The FRU police, assisted by mounted police and others, surrounded the civilians, making it difficult for anyone to escape the kicks and blows.
The police had given these 50 citizens no forewarning about this baton-charge and had not directed them to move. Police regulations permit officers to use enough force to make an arrest or to prevent a crime. However, this attack resulted in no arrests or charges. At worst, the citizens were obstructing a vehicle thoroughfare but the lawful penalty for this is perhaps a fine, not a thrashing. Punishments are supposed to be administered by the courts, not by police. And corporal punishment is not normally practised in Victoria.
No police were injured in this incident but ambulance paramedics treated the injured civilians, sending some to hospital.
The attack is also significant because the civilians included two members of the New Zealand Parliament. This may well be the first time that Victorian police have physically attacked members of a parliament.
Twelve hours later, after dusk, the Force Response Unit carried out another baton-charge at the same gateway against an assembly of about 100 civilians. The police also targeted news photographers, injuring some and smashing their equipment.
The success of this day’s police operations is measured not in arrests but in the number of civilians injured. The media reported that about 70 people were injured in the two attacks, including 24 who were taken to hospital.
However, newspaper stories and television news scripts during the preceding three months had built up an expectation that these 70 injured civilians were criminally “violent” and that they deserved “what was coming to them”.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the articles and scripts about “violence” in the light of the available television footage…