The police officer who assaulted Ian Tomlinson didn’t do anything worse than many other police officers filmed that day. Shouldn’t they be investigated too?
The officer who lashed out at Ian Tomlinson is not typical. But any constable who betrays the public’s trust to use force responsibly should be disciplined and, if appropriate, charged. It is lamentably unfair to the vast majority of self-controlled officers if a thug tars the whole force.
Commenters on LDV have expressed dismay at this, and I have to agree. Whilst the death of Ian Tomlinson is tragic, and should be properly investigated, the police should not be allowed to get away with a diversionary “bad apple” manouvre here. There was a lot of rather over-zealous policing going on for the G20 protests on April 1st, and questions should be asked not simply of officers caught overstepping the mark when tensions ran high, but also of the senior officers who determined that kettling anyone who turned up was a sensible or productive tactic.
Since April 1st, discussion of police methods has been steadily displaced by discussion of Ian Tomlinson. His death is significant, but it should not be allowed to become a proxy for the wider issues. Whether Tomlinson was or was not a protestor, or being antagonistic to the police, or drunk, are pertinent questions to the investigation into his death, but they have absolutely no bearing on the wider questions of whether the climate camp should have been charged in the way it was to clear it, or whether kettling should be the default tactic used on people exercising their right to protest.