Policing the Police, reporting protests.

The other week I was looking at coverage of the G20 meetings and the protests surrounding the event. I was a little annoyed at the focus on a tiny violent action by a few protesters, in particular the way the media pushed this image. You can see in this video on the BBC how the semi-circle of photographers wait expectantly for someone to play up to the camera - sure enough, someone soon does and the photographers can be clearly seen snapping away. Sure enough, this small part of the day turned up all over thea place, shot from many different angles.

Why did this annoy me so? Simply because it seemed to be as if the media was encouraging the actions of these protesters. It seemed like very negative reporting to me. Why not lead with the fact that thousands turned out onto the streets to peacefully protest and demonstrate. What about democracy in action? (as the politicians so quaintly refer to any mass demonstration where in their policies are criticised).

No wonder many officers do not enjoy policing protests. In fact a good number of them probably agree with many of the greivences voiced. A few, however, take a very hard line. And that line is currently getting very solid indeed.

Video footage from the protests has emerged over the past few days that is very damning of Police behaviour. Here, one shows a Police officer striking and pushing to the ground a man who was walking away from him, hands in pockets. This man is Ian Tomlinson. Shortly after this event, Mr Tomlinson suffered what appeared to be a heart attack and died. Initially the police claim that protesters prevented medical care from being given, though this video clearly sees protesters backing off as a ring of Police surround Mr Tomlinson. Far from hindering, they appear to be helping the Police clear space.

Even if the actions of the Police officer who struck Mr Tomlinson and his subsequent death are unrelated, this is clearly an unneseccary act of brutality.

Only days later, at a vigil for Mr Tomlinson, the Police are again filmed acting in a violent manner, quite out of proportion with the actions of the public. I don't know about you, but backhanding a woman to get her to move back and then taking a kosh to her legs is a big no no where I'm from. I don't care if she is shouting abuse in your face.

Frankly, if there are going to be hordes of people, professional journalists, film crews, citizen journalists, members of the public or whoever all brandishing cameras and waiting to document the events that take place at these protests, I'm glad they're not all waiting for some idiot to put in a window pane.

Just as lumping together all protesters under the banner of a few is a mistake, labelling all Police as thugs is also misleading. I have had my fair share of unpleasant treatment by officers but I have also been helped by them.

However, If a few Police are going to attack those they are supposed to be protecting, harrass and restrict reporters and generally behave like the State's hired thugs, I'd at least like them to be caught revealing their true totalitarian colours while they're at it. If journalists are to be treated with the same contempt as protesters then the Police will have to realise that more and more lenses will be pointed at them, and they should be held to account for actions such as those caught on these videos.

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