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Breaking News right now on the BBC…

A new post mortem says Ian Tomlinson died from an abdominal haemorrhage not a heart attack after contact with police during the G20 protests.

The statement from the City of London Coroners Court overturns the initial assessment that the newspaper seller died of natural causes.

This stunning news now appears to suggest that Tomlinson was murdrered by police on April 1st. Furthermore, following his murder the police lied to press and public claiming that there was no contact between Tomlinson and the police prior to his death which they initally claimed was from ‘atural causes.

Had a member of the public not filmed the police carrying out a brutal and unprovoked assault on Tomlinson moments before his death the original police story would have been the only one the public ever heard. This makes this a watershed in some ways for the use of citizen journalism to expose police lies and create the necessary public outcry for the matter to be properly investigated, and the results of this investigation now appear to show that virtually every facet of the police’s inital statement was untrue and that they murdered an innocent man on his way home for work.

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The guardian now has a fairly substantial list of eyewitness reports surrounding the Police attacking Ian Tomlinson shortly before his death on April 1st

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/08/g20-ian-tomlinson-death-witnesses

The main protests of the day had ebbed away but hundreds of people were still penned inside a police cordon near the Bank of England around 7pm last Wednesday when newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson started on his journey home through the City. He never made it. What happened in Tomlinson’s final half hour before he collapsed and died of a heart attack is now the subject of an inquiry on behalf of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Guardian has gathered statements from 15 witnesses who saw Tomlinson to piece together a forensic reconstruction his movements. This directly contradicts the official version of events put out by police in the aftermath of Tomlinson’s death. The witnesses accuse police of lashing at protesters and bystanders alike, attacking them with batons, shields and dogs. Officers are alleged to have attacked Tomlinson twice; both times from behind and as he was walking away. Eight witnesses produced photographic evidence, time- and date-stamped, that corroborates their version of events. Three said they saw Tomlinson being assaulted by riot police. Here are their accounts.

A: Marcus Bensasson, 30, photographer, south London

I was taking pictures of police charging protesters and using their batons. It was violent. One charge took people by surprise. They thought they were at a safe distance and then suddenly police – riot police – were charging at them. My photographs show police attacking protesters with batons. One image shows a bystander being shoved in the back with a shield at the very spot Ian Tomlinson collapsed.

B: Dr Justin Meggitt, 40, senior lecturer in religious studies, Cambridge University

I was with the crowd at Cornhill. But when police started coming up I went down the pedestrianised zone, Royal Exchange Buildings, on the Threadneedle Street end.

I saw a couple of occasions when police with batons hit individuals. It wasn’t a big row of officers. They seemed to be spread out. There were dogs along the street.

I was pretty disturbed. I didn’t expect that kind of violence. So at the time I took pictures and on at least one occasion I went up to the policeman to complain that he appeared to have hit someone, right in front of me, for no apparent reason.

The dog attacks occurred at about 7.10pm, when a police dog, as far as I could see, bit the handler and then bit a man. The man who was bitten was showing people his injuries. I have a photograph. They were very deep gashes in the top of his arm.

Then, as the crowd surged out of Cornhill at around 7.12pm and some people ran down Royal Exchange Buildings, I saw a policeman clubbing somebody. This was a young man – I saw him throw a plastic bottle. The policeman ran at him and clubbed him. He did fall over and then ran away. Then there was another dog attack at 7.16pm. The person was a tall, younger man and the policeman set the dog on him.

And then, soon after that, about 10 seconds afterwards, something happened in front of me where someone was clubbed again. That person was on the ground and they were being hit, at least once. They were on the floor and hit. That struck me as another unprovoked assault. I was really shocked. I know it’s difficult policing these things. But these incidents took me by real surprise. It seemed as though individual police officers were taking it out on bystanders for no reason. They seemed extremely pumped up. After that I thought it was unwise to stay in that area because it was extremely violent.

C: Anna Branthwaite, 36, freelance photographer, south London

There had been a situation where a small number of police officers had become outnumbered by protesters in Cornhill, and had retreated into the pedestrian street, Royal Exchange Buildings. It was like, anything could happen right now. Riot officers began to arrive and within minutes the police had regained control around the Threadneedle Street end where I went to stand.

At this point there were probably about 20 officers – some dog handlers, some riot officers. And members of the public – city workers, people watching – were being stopped around the traffic lights although some were being allowed to walk through the pedestrian street that was now relatively clear, with a few protesters still standing around but certainly not a crowd.

The dog handlers began to sweep through the pedestrian street to start forming a police line. A dog barked and I saw one protester was on the floor who managed to get up. That’s what drew my attention to that spot. It was then that I noticed Ian Tomlinson, who was walking from Threadneadle Street direction, walking towards Cornhill Street. A riot police officer had already grabbed him and was pushing him.

It wasn’t just pushing him – he’d rushed him. He went to the floor and he did actually roll. That was quite noticeable. It was the force of the impact. He bounced on the floor. It was a very forceful knocking-down from behind. The officer hit him twice with a baton when he was lying on the floor.

So it wasn’t just that the officer had pushed him – it became an assault. And then the officer picked him up from the back, continued to walk or charge with him, and threw him. He was running and stumbling. He didn’t turn and confront the officer or anything like that.

Tomlinson was not confronting a police cordon. He was not in a crowd of protesters being corralled by police. He was walking on the street away from the police with barely anyone around him when he was attacked from behind.

I think the officers were so fired up, it had been very intimidating for them to be outnumbered. When they came back I think this one officer just rushed in and lashed out. And it happened to be Mr Tomlinson. The next time I saw Ian Tomlinson was when he had collapsed about 50 yards down around the corner and surrounded by a group of police officers.

D: Kezia Rolfe, 27, NGO researcher, east London

I saw a man approaching the police line from my right. He was quite tall with a beer belly and short hair. I later recognised him from a picture. He was on his own. He walked up to the police across the Royal Exchange Building, towards the centre left of their line.

He did not appear drunk – he was walking normally. I saw him suddenly fall back as though flung down with force. It was as though he had been spun. He fell and hit the top of his head hard. I was shocked. He lay on the ground for around 30 seconds without moving before a protester helped him up. The police did not help him at all.

E: Amiri Howe, 24, actor/musician, west London

We stood on a ledge near Cornhill. Before he got hit, at the beginning of the whole thing – we were watching the protesters at the Bank of England. Police got into a couple of scuffles with people. They were pushing the line forward, pushing the line forward.

We saw a couple of scuffles happening. Our friends were inside trying to get out – no water, no food, we wanted to get them out. Police started coming forward. Missiles started to be thrown. They came in with their batons, stamping.

The guy [Tomlinson] was stood there. He got hit near the head with a baton. It was like a pencil, he just fell to the floor and hit his head again when he hit the floor. When he got hit, police were coming forwards. I saw him fall so I moved back. But I saw him on the floor and someone picking him up – that’s when I took the picture.

If there was CCTV then they will see exactly what happened – which is exactly what I said happened. You see in that corner where the dogs came up, it was proper chaos. After that, I was taking pictures of police and the dog line, and a girl came and said, ‘this guy needs help’. He was further back down the road. It was the same guy that got hit. He was wearing the exact same stuff.

F: Investment fund manager, 38, from New York who filmed the attack

The primary reason for me coming forward is that it was clear the family weren’t getting any answers. I saw him wandering around [before he was attacked]. He was just taking a look. He just got too close to the police line. [When he was attacked] it was absolutely horrible. I didn’t put two and two together. Then I looked at the footage again and thought ‘my God, it’s the man they pushed to the ground’. It must be him it was minutes later who collapsed.

G: Jasper Jackson, 23, journalist, Paddington

There was an altercation with a protester who had been doing graffiti. He was dragged by police and smashed his head against the door. After a bit of scuffling they withdrew down a side street. The police then brought in a set of dogs and blocked Royal Exchange Buildings. The picture I have of him is of him stumbling in front of the protesters and in front of the police dogs. He looked dazed, a glazed look on his face.

Later, someone shouted to the police with a loudhailer: there’s a casualty down – can we get a medic? The police took this seriously. Out of an alley came medics and policemen in riot gear.

There were a couple of people throwing bottles in the direction. A bottle smashed near a Starbucks. Protesters told them to stop it. In fact, threatening to kill other protesters if they did anything to disrupt the treatment.

H: Press photographer 1, anonymous

There were two sets of police and a sort of standoff. Those police started moving forward to try and push the protesters back. If you see the pictures you can see exactly what they were doing. The batons were up, they were moving forward, they were using their shields.

I saw this guy on the ground. I photographed him. I saw there was something seriously wrong with him when I got the first picture of his face. There was a couple of police around him and the protesters were beginning to throw things. Then the protesters were saying, ‘stop, there’s one of ours down there’.

I: Press photographer 2, anonymous

I was at the police line at Cornhill at the Bank of England. We were being pushed back by the police line. The police were coming forward to cajole people. They were using batons. I moved back and as I was moving back towards Bishopsgate I saw this guy on his back being attended to. A missile was thrown in the direction. But I wouldn’t like to say it was intended at police. It sort of landed in the vicinity.

J: Daniel MacPhee, 24, social support worker, Kingston

If the truth be that he died of a heart attack it’s not surprising really because it felt like people were running for their lives. I looked over to my left and there was a man lying in the street. Someone shouted out, ‘he fell down, over there’ – as if to say that he fell down before somehow.

I rang 999. I was on the phone. They said, ‘is he breathing?’ Then they asked me to put him on his back. So with the help of the person I was with, we managed to get him on to his back.

Not long after that a group of four or five riot police came running out from the crowd and surrounded him. The ambulancewoman on the phone said to me, ‘can you pass me to the police?’ I said, ‘I’ve got the ambulance on the phone, do you want to speak to them?’ They just ignored me.

When the police interviewed me, I said that I saw no violence toward this individual, which I didn’t. And afterwards the police said it would take a very brave coroner to proclaim that the cause of death was because he was beaten up, or because of the protests that day. They said it would take a brave coroner to suggest the cause of death was because of any wrongdoing by the police.

Initially I just kind of forgot about it. But it was later on in the day that I thought, why would someone say it would take a brave coroner? If the facts are there.

K: Callum Holden-Cooper, 20, student

He came from the direction of the police and he just collapsed.

He didn’t have any blood on his face. He seemed quite out of it. I saw he was breathing. A guy with a loud hailer called out. Four riot police and two medics came around the guy who collapsed. The police line kept moving. The police kept charging forward. We kept thinking we were going to get killed.

L: Elias Stoakes, 25, student, Mile End

There were two missiles that I remember, thrown from the back. The police claim that protesters impeded them from treating him because of a barrage of missiles was completely untrue. Protesters from the crowd wanted to help him. The crowd were extremely angry at people who had thrown missiles. They were mostly concerned about police charging. Earlier on the same street they hit me with batons over my thigh and calf. They were saying things like, ‘That got you up. Now fuck off’. I still have the bruises. That was because I was stopping to help someone who hurt their head and they came at me. They pressed the pressure point under my ear to make me move.

M: Medical student, anonymous

We were all running – he was running near me. I probably only noticed him just before he fell. Police were chasing us with their batons out.

Then he fell to the floor. A few other people went over to him as well. Then the police charged everyone again. They were all charging towards us. He was lying with his feet toward the police. I stood in the way with my arms out to stop people from running into him. I said: there’s a man down. The people ran around me.

The person on the phone to the ambulance told the police the ambulance service wanted to speak to them. He held the phone out to the police officer. The police officer held the phone and said, ‘no, move along, we’re dealing with this’.

N: Natalie Langford, 21, student from London

We had been by the police line shouting ‘let them out’ because of the people stuck inside. It was peaceful at first. The police were saying: move back, move back, and surging forward.

Some students were sitting down on the floor – I was as well. They came in using batons against us. Police came in and began hitting people with batons. My friend got hit quite badly. It was a minute after that we saw him [Ian Tomlinson] stumbling about. He just seemed really disorientated and stumbling. Then he collapsed.

O: Peter Apps, 20, law student, east London

He was outside a shop. I think it was a glass-fronted shop. When I first saw him he was stumbling along the pavement on the left-hand side of the road. He was disorientated and stumbling and collided with the wall that was jutting out of a shop, and then fell over. Someone had called an ambulance. When protesters were giving him first aid, I looked up and I saw a lot of protesters running toward me and the police charging toward them with their batons out.

Meanwhile there is a protest planned for this Saturday 11th April with a march from Bethnal Green Police Station to the bank of England, where flowers will be laid at the spot where Tomlinson died.

http://london.indymedia.org.uk/events/1079

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The guardian has now released this footage showing Police attacking Ian Tomlinson

Their behaviour here, attacking a man with his back turned, and hands in his pockets is entirely in keeping with the rest of their violent and unprovoked behaviour on 1st April 2009.

The Lib Dems justice spokesperson David Howarth has come out in favour of a criminal inquiry stating that ‘”There must be a full-scale criminal investigation. The officer concerned and the other officers shown in the video must immediately come forward.”

The BBC meanwhile, keen to give the police a chance to explain themselves quote the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation Peter Smyth who defends police actions saying that

“On a day like that, where there are some protesters who are quite clearly hell-bent on causing as much trouble as they can, there is inevitably going to be some physical confrontation.”

“Sometimes it isn’t clear, as a police officer, who is a protester and who is not.

“I know it’s a generalisation but anybody in that part of the town at that time, the assumption would be that they are part of the protest.”

So the police are now admitting that they were indiscriminately attacking people in the Bank area of London, whether they had anything to with the protests or not on the assumption that anybody in that part of London at the time would be a protester. While this confirms the reports that Indymedia had been carrying throughout the day, it’s quite shocking to hear a senior police spokesman happily admit that his officers were randomly attacking anyone who happened to be in part of central London because there were (largely peaceful) protests going on there.

To their credit, the protesters who Smyth deceitfully claims were hell bent on causing as much trouble as they could, mainly managed to keep calm and maintain dignity in the face of this heavy handed police intimidation and brutality. A few banks, notably RBS an institution which has created outrage by awarding Fred Goodwin, the man who oversaw the bank’s collapse a 16.9 million pound pension (to be paid by the taxpayer who has had to step in and bail the bank out following Goodwin’s reign), had a few windows broken, however this act of symbolic violence against an institution currently committing a form of financial violence to the British taxpayer can hardly be compared to police actions of randomly attacking anyone in the area and kettling protesters, refusing to allow people to leave for water, food, or to use a toilet for hours at a time.

This video shows police attacking protesters at Climate Camp outside the European Climate Exchange as they raise their hands and chant peace not riot. Just because none of those attacked here died as a result does not justify the use of such brutal and unprovoked violence. Attacking people in this manner should not be considered legal or acceptable.

While it’s quite right that there should be a criminal investigation into what appears to be the murder of Ian Tomlinson at the hands of the police, there should be similar criminal investigations into the hundreds of incidents where police attacked peaceful protesters on April 1st, and these investigations should go all the way up to the top echelons of the police, indicting those who authorised officers on the ground to treat anyone as ‘the enemy’ and who gave the go ahead for the random acts of senseless violence perpetrated by the police on April 1st.

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The Guardian has posted the statements of three eyewitnesses who all claim to have seen first hand the Police violently attacking Ian Tomlinson minutes before he collapsed.

A riot officer came up behind him and grabbed him. It wasn’t just pushing him – he’d rushed him. He went to the floor and he did actually roll. That was quite noticeable. It was the force of the impact. It was all from behind. The officer hit him twice with a baton [when he was] on the floor. So it wasn’t just that the officer had pushed him – it became an assault. And then the officer picked him up from the back, continued to walk or charge with him, and threw him. He was running and stumbling. He didn’t turn and confront the officer or anything like that.
Anna Branthwaite, 36, freelance photographer, south London

I saw a man approaching the police line from my right. He was quite tall with a beer belly and short hair. I later recognised him from a picture. He was on his own. He walked up to the police across the Royal Exchange Building, towards the centre left of their line. He did not appear drunk – he was walking normally. I saw him suddenly fall back as though flung down with force. It was as though he had been spun. He fell and hit the top of his head hard. I was shocked. He lay on the ground for around 30 seconds without moving before a protester helped him up. The police did not help him at all.
Kezia Rolfe, 27, NGO researcher, Stoke Newington

Police got into scuffles with people. They were pushing the line forward. When he got hit, police were coming forwards. He got hit near the head with a baton. I saw him fall so I moved back. But I saw him on the floor and someone picking him up – that’s when I took the picture. After that, I was taking pictures of police and the dog line, and a girl came and said ‘This guy needs help’. He was further back down the road.
Amiri Howe, 24, actor/musician, west London

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/06/g20-protest-police-assault

Meanwhile if we take a look at the BBC, we find an article which states that

Witnesses have told the IPCC that the newsagent, who was not part of the protest, had “contact” with police officers before collapsing.

Followed by a quote from IPCC commissioner Deborah Glass saying that

“Initially we had accounts from independent witnesses who were on Cornhill, who told us that there had been no contact between the police and Mr Tomlinson when he collapsed.

“However, other witnesses who saw him in the Royal Exchange area have since told us that Mr Tomlinson did have contact with police officers.

Amazing how eyewitness testimony that riot police assaulting someone and striking them with a baton can be spun into ‘having contact.’ While technically yes, it is contact with someone, it’s a cleverly phrased piece of proaganda by the police commission seeking to downplay the extent of the unneccesary violence which was entirely characteristic of their approach this week.

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This from the Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/05/g20-protest-ian-tomlinson

The man who died during last week’s G20 protests was “assaulted” by riot police shortly before he suffered a heart attack, according to witness statements received by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Investigators are examining a series of corroborative accounts that allege Ian Tomlinson, 47, was a victim of police violence in the moments before he collapsed near the Bank of England in the City of London last Wednesday evening. Three witnesses have told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson was attacked violently as he made his way home from work at a nearby newsagents. One claims he was struck on the head with a baton.

Photographer Anna Branthwaite said: “I can remember seeing Ian Tomlinson. He was rushed from behind by a riot officer with a helmet and shield two or three minutes before he collapsed.” Branthwaite, an experienced press photographer, has made a statement to the IPCC.

Another independent statement supports allegations of police violence. Amiri Howe, 24, recalled seeing Mr Tomlinson being hit “near the head” with a police baton. Howe took one of a sequence of photographs that show a clearly dazed Mr Tomlinson being helped by a bystander.

A female protester, who does not want to be named but has given her testimony to the IPCC, said she saw a man she later recognised as Tomlinson being pushed aggressively from behind by officers. “I saw a man violently propelled forward, as though he’d been flung by the arm, and fall forward on his head.

“He hit the top front area of his head on the pavement. I noticed his fall particularly because it struck me as a horrifically forceful push by a policeman and an especially hard fall; it made me wince.”

Mr Tomlinson, a married man who lived alone in a bail hostel, was not taking part in the protests. Initially, his death was attributed by a police post mortem to natural causes. A City of London police statement said: “[He] suffered a sudden heart attack while on his way home from work.”

But this version of events was challenged after witnesses recognised the dead man from photographs that were published on Friday.

An IPCC statement was due to be released the same day and is understood to have portrayed the death as a tragic accident. However, the statement’s release was postponed as the complaints body received information that police officers may have been more involved in events than previously thought. An IPCC spokesman said yesterday that in light of new statements it was “assessing” the information it had received before deciding whether to launch a full investigation.

Part of the commission’s inquiries will involve the examination of CCTV footage from the area.

Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth said: “Eventually there will have to be a full inquest with a jury. It is a possibility this death was at police hands.”

A police source told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson appears to have become caught between police lines and protesters, with officers chasing back demonstrators during skirmishes. He was seen stumbling before he collapsed and died on Cornhill Street, opposite St Michael’s Alley, around 7.25pm.

At around 7.10pm, protesters had gathered outside the police cordon to call for those contained inside – some for hours – to be let out. Officers with batons and shields attempted to clear them from the road.

Around 7.20pm, five riot police, and a line of officers with dogs, emerged from Royal Exchange Square, a pedestrian side street. Three images taken around this time show Mr Tomlinson on the pavement, in front of five riot police, and in apparent distress. He had one arm in the air, and appeared to be in discussion with the officers.

Mr Tomlinson then appears to have been lifted to his feet by a bystander. Minutes later he fell to the ground. “We saw this guy staggering around,” said Natalie Langford, 21, a student. “He looked disorientated. About five seconds later he fell, and I grabbed my friends to help him.”

Police have claimed that when paramedics tried to move Mr Tomlinson away for urgent treatment, bottles were thrown at them by protesters. He was later pronounced dead at hospital.

Branthwaite added: “He [Mr Tomlinson] was not a mouthy kid or causing problems, but the police seemed to have lost control and were trying to push protesters back. The police had started to filter people into a side street off Cornhill. There were a few stragglers who were just walking through between the police and protesters. Mr Tomlinson was one of those.”

The police tactics during the G20 protests were condemned in the aftermath of the demonstrations. The clearance of a climate camp along Bishopsgate by riot police with batons and dogs after nightfall on Wednesday came in for particular criticism.

Protesters marched to Bethnal Green police station in east London yesterday to demand a public inquiry into Mr Tomlinson’s death.

Despite the hideous coverage of the G20 protests in London this week which largely depicted the protesters as violent thoughtless thugs who were complicit in the death of one of their own, it would seem that fairly rapidly the truth is beginning to eke out into the public arena. As with the infamous murder of Jean Charles de Menezes it appears that the initial statement handed out by the police is full of outright lies designed to vindicate the violent actions of the police.

Merely describing the police actions this week as heavy handed is an understatement of the highest order. The state sponsored violence which was unleashed on the protesters was in no way proportionate to the behaviour of those on the streets. There is an immense difference between smashing a few windows at a Bank which symbolises the financial violence wrought on people living through the credit crunch and beating a passer by to death. There is no justification in riot police attacking sit down protests or peaceful climate campers whose arms are raised as they chant peace not riot.

A brutal case of state sanctioned violence was perpetrated this past week against the people who sought to articulate their displeasure with the current government for their economic, ecological and militaristic strategies.

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For coverage of tomorrow and Thursday’s G20 protests acrosss london be sure to check out London Indymedia and UK Indymedia who will be providing live updates on the day’s actions.

As the Police have been talking up the ‘summer of rage’ before any kind of protest/demonstrations have occured it seems likely that there is likely to be some very heavy handed actions initiated by the police, and keeping protestors abreast of events while letting the world know what is really going on in the streets seems like a hugely important job for grassroots independent media.

‘Help report what’s happening by sending your reports from the streets. There are two Indymedia reporting numbers running 28th March – 2nd April: 07588 479 039 : For calling in reports from events – remember the ‘who what when where why’ – and also for sending txt msg updates and MMS picture messages.
08444 870 157: For calling in to leave a short audio recording that can be uploaded to the website. (If you do send pictures or audio messages, include the location and time) Twitter: If you are using twitter and have a report or update for Indymedia, include the hashtag #imcg20 in your message’

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