The state is not your friend. Ever. Even on those rare occasions when it does something useful.
It is said that among those attending political protests there is a dissolving of the self, but this is true not only of the demonstrators. Police officers engaged in public order exercises are routinely psyched-up by their superiors, and subsequently instructed to lie about their actions.
In the case of “G20 Meltdown”, politicians, police commanders and some particularly irresponsible journalists were gagging for violence perpetrated by ‘rampaging anarchist mobs’. This was evident in the words of Metropolitan Police commander Simon O’Brien, who, when responding to a reporter’s questions about likely trouble, said:
“We’re up for it and we’re up to it.”
They clearly were, and they certainly got it, but only after first dishing it out to others.
On the following day, during which the G20 summit was taking place in London’s Docklands, I happened to find myself on Canary Wharf, sitting on a public bench next to a photographer for one of Britain’s national tabloids. I couldn’t help overhearing this gentleman of the press speaking with a colleague on his mobile, and complaining bitterly about the “lack of action”. The poor dear.
With the tragic death of Evening Standard seller and Millwall fanatic Ian Tomlinson, the police look set to pay for their criminal irresponsibility during the G20 demonstrations on 1 April. So who are the fools now? Now I’m normally quite partial to irony, but not in this case, where this victim of police violence was an employee of a newspaper that lied throughout the London protests.
The likely soon-to-be-ex-plod highlighted in the video still above may end up serving a prison sentence for manslaughter. But will his superiors, their political masters and those in the media who fanned the flames be held to account? I doubt it.