My letter to the MEN regarding the G20 Protest

Once again Andrew Grimes proves himself to be a poor substitute for serious journalism in his comment on the G20 protests in London (April 3). I don’t know who he is referring to with his throw away remark “Some had come to save the planet by torching buses”?

I had gone down to the G20 especially to see the urban eco-village being created on Bishops gate by the ‘climate camp’. It was inspiring and engaging and above all peaceful. Colourful pop-up tents and flowers. A bicycle powered sound system, vegan kitchen, farmers market and workshops on everything from climate science to the role of banks in a fossil fuel economy. All erected outside the European Climate Exchange to protest peacefully against the woeful ‘carbon market’ system.

However the behaviour of the police was the worst I have seen on any demonstration of late. It was in the evening, on April 1st, we got a call from a friend trapped in the police cordon outside the Bank of England. He had been there for several hours in the heat with no water after receiving a head injury. We were concerned for our friend and others trapped in these conditions. We wanted to bring them water but the police, for reasons best known to themselves, would not allow us into the kettle. A few minutes later we crossed the road and saw several medics begin CPR on a man lying on the ground. We later found out this to be Mr Tomlinson, the man who died. I certainly didn’t see any of the paramedics being pelted with bottles or stones as reported by the police.Mr Tomlinson became trapped due to police tactics on the day. The police are indiscriminate about who they corral at these protests. They shut off an area trapping all inside. This occurred well before any hint of a riot occurred. Parents and children, the elderly and passers-by can often get caught up in the tactic known as ‘Kettling’ because of the effect it has on those enclosed. It is a dangerous tactic that must now be investigated. Corralling is a form of mass arrest despite no one being charged with an offence. It is dangerous; those trapped inside for hours denied even the most basic of rights. It is my firm believe that it was a miracle more people were not killed as the police crushed thousands of people into tighter and tighter spaces for no apparent reason.People have a right to protest but when you trap them indiscriminately and have dogs bark at them, its hardly surprising that some will become angry. This is just basic human nature. What I witnessed has given me a new perspective on the behaviour of our police force. The force my council tax has just increased to fund. A full independent inquiry needs to be held, not only regarding the police crowd control tactics into the police tactics but also into the tragic death of Mr Tomlinson.

Gayle O’Donovan
Secretary of Manchester Green party
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