Sunday, April 19, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said today that Nick Hardwick had been mistaken when he said there were no security cameras around Royal Exchange Passage, the area where a policeman was shown in private video footage striking Tomlinson with a baton and pushing him to the ground."
View Larger Map
Like many of you I found the assertion that there were no CCTV camera in the area strange considering that so many of the world's surveillance cameras are in the UK and that a capital in which the average resident's image is captured 300 times a day should have a blind spot in so strategic an area. Obviously, being an investigator for the IPCC precludes such mundane chores as actually checking what the police tell you.
After a quick search on Google Maps I found the image you see above which shows the corner of Threadneedle St and the Royal Exchange Passage where the assault on Tomlinson took place. If you zoom into the area just above the red bus and slightly to the right you will see at least one, quite possibly two CCTVs. I find it hard to believe given the seriousness of the operation to police the G20 summit that these resources were not brought into play during the day.
Even stranger that none of those investigating the death of Tomlinson and the 120 other complaints made against the police during that day bothered to actually wander the streets there or even more simply have a look on the internet.
The only good thing that has come out of this whole, sad charade is that the more the police and the IPCC try to wiggle out of their responsibilities the worse it becomes in terms of public opinion.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
At first the police failed to mention any connection between their officers and the death of the unfortunate 47 year - old newspaper seller. Then, when footage came out on the Guardian website showing the assault they attempted to get the video pulled. If that was not enough the IPCC said that there was no CCTV coverage of the event, only to have that absurd claim (we're talking about the heart of London, home to more surveillance camera than virtually anywhere else on Earth) debunked by photographic evidence taken on the day. In addition just four of the dozen or so officers present during the attack have come forward.
With more than 120 official complaints about police violence during the summit pending the latest revelation of a police officer assaulting a woman during a vigil in honour of Ian Tomlinson is just another nail in the coffin of the police's reputation.
The attack takes place at about 3.20 mins. Notice that the officer has hidden his ID number in clear contravention of police rules. Then again; "you're not cop, you're little people".
Or shut me nightly in a charnel-house,
O'er-cover'd quite with dead men's rattling bones,
With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls;
Or bid me go into a new-made grave
And hide me with a dead man in his shroud;
Things that, to hear them told, have made me tremble;
And I will do it without fear or doubt,
Monday, April 13, 2009
For more details on what is going on in Bangkok check out
#redshirts on Twitter
"redshirts" in Google blog search and Technorati
"redshirts" in Youtube
"redshirts" on Flickr
Follow these sources for an hour or two and you'll find out as much as most professional journalists (at least non - Thai's) know about what is happening.
I see this tendency set to explode over the next few years as more and more people are able to access the internet via their mobile/cell phones and the world wide web ceases to the sole domain of those with the wealth to buy a computer. Already the number of people who use mobiles in the developing world has skyrocketed. With the spread of lower cost devices which include video and camera capabilities as well as letting you get on the internet then we will have to chance to hear from those caught up in news stories around the world unfiltered by national and international media.
It seems that the London Metropolitan Police seem a slittle sluggish in getting officers who witnessed the assault on Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests to come forward. Even now, more than 10 days after his death just four of the dozen or so officers present at the time have come forward to answer IPCC questions.
As a result UK based BristleKRS Blog has been collecting pictures and footage of the incident from the internet in order to find clues as to the identity of the other, shyer witnesses to the attack. As he says himself if they do not come forward voluntarily then others must drag them into the public arena.
"I hope that these pictures might help jog the memory of someone - anyone - who was in London that day. Perhaps you took a photograph of a policeman whom you think you recognise here - a photograph which is clearer, perhaps even showing a number on an epaulette or a helmet. Please do check through your pictures and compare them with these.
Or maybe you weren’t in London on the 1st of April, but you happen to recognise a relative, or an acquaintance from your local, or a neighbour. If you do, please don’t just leave it be.
If enough people - ordinary people, people like us - take the time and trouble to hold those responsible (through their action or their inaction) for the death of Ian Tomlinson, force them to come forward and be held accountable, then we might - just might - help prevent this happening again, only next time to your father, my mother, our friends, our loved ones. Don’t leave it to the IPCC."
So, if you think you can help, please go over to his blog and see the pictures and video he has already found.
Today marks the start of Megali Evdomada or Easter Week in Orthodox calender. There will a whole series of rituals and rites which culminate next Sunday when everyone gets together and eats roast lamb with friends and family. For most Greeks these days are far more important than say, Christmas.
At the moment many people are fasting, in this case abstaining from meat and daily products in the run up to next weekend.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Make fun of the b#stards. Show them for what they are. Contempt is our strongest weapon.
In memory of Ian Tomlinson.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
The similarities between the death of Ian Tomlinson who died during the G20 summit protests and Alexis Grigoropoulos, whose shooting last December in Athens sparked off weeks of rioting across Greece seem to be growing ever stronger. In both cases the unlawful death at the hands of the police was initially met with silence and/or lies.
In the case of Alexis the original official account said that the 15 year old had been part of a group of anarchist who had attacked a patrol car with stones, bottles and Molotov cocktails. The officers involved had, according to the police been forced to fire into the air and that one such shot had accidentally killed the teenager. In the case of Tomlinson, the London Metropolitan police said that he had been walking home when he had suffered a heart attack and that attempts to aid him had been met by a barrage of bricks and bottles.
As we know now both accounts turned out to have only the slightest connection with what really happened. In the case of Alexis eye witnesses and later video evidence quickly came out that showed that he had died after having an argument with a policeman who aimed and fired his weapon at him. Likewise in the Tomlinson case eyewitness accounts told of an unprovoked police attack backed up by video footage.
In both Athens and London the vast majority of the mainstream media were quite happy, at first to accept the authorities version of what happened and even embellish their accounts with, as it turned out, literary flourishes that undermined their credibility. Luckily, The Observer and the Guardian kept on hammering away at the story despite official harassment from the IPCC.
Now it seems that both cases are continuing to follow the same pattern of developments. Once the authorities in Athens realised that their original cover story had been blown they decided on another approach in the media battle for the hearts and minds of Joe Public; namely, they thought that they could save the day by mounting a campaign of smear and innuendo that would tar the reputation of the victim and so justify the actions of the officers involved.
Within days much of the Greek press corp published stories from police sources that painted Alexis as a delinquent malcontent who loved nothing more than make trouble in the Exarchia neighbourhood where he died. Indeed the newspapers even went as far as to publish a report by the police officer's lawyer that highlighted his allegedly chequered school record and grades as supposed evidence of the teen's delinquency and so "guilt".
Now we see the same thing with Ian Tomlinson. The police have seen their attempt at a cover up blown so wide that even their supporters in the media cannot help anymore. Faced with media scrutiny of their actions stories are now appearing in the right wing press that have tried to smear Tomlinson, attack his character and so justify the officer who killed him.
It is claimed that he had been drinking heavily and had gone out of his way to provoke officers who were operating under very difficult circumstances. What such reports fail to mention was the widespread use of indiscriminate violence (including attacks on a Channel 4 camera crew) by the police to control the situation and the use of "kettling" which allowed tensions to rise that would have been dissipated had protesters been allowed to leave.
Again the hope is that such accusations will make us forget the video footage which showed Tomlinson attacked as he was walking away from the police. Even if what the newspapers say is true then do the police have the right to treat people with such contempt during what had been , despite intense provocation, a mainly peaceful demo?
My only hope is that the tactic backfires as badly in London as it did in Athens. Then the claims by the police not only managed to add to the feeling of anger felt by many taking part in the protests but also disgusted many who had up to that time remained undecided as to whether the police had done something wrong.
For more information check out the Ian Tomlinson Wiki page here and the Alexis Grigoropoulos page here.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
The leader of the Greek communist party (KKE), Aleka Papariga was in town today to rally the faithful. It seems more and more obvious that Greece is about to enter a pre - election period. The present conservative government's slim one seat majority in parliament was reduced still further when one of the ruling New Democracy's MPs, former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis became the subject of a parliamentary enquiry over allegations that he demanded kickbacks for handing out subsidies to ferry companies operating to the Greek islands.
It seems more and more likely that as well as Euro - elections the country will go to the polls in the near future to elect a new government.
A man dies in full view of hundreds, the victim of a violent attack by a masked man. His death captured by an untold number of cameras in the area. Yet nothing happens. No charges are brought, no one is arrested, the police carry on as usual. The mainstream media is content to accept the police account and so spread the official version that makes no reference to the events leading to the death. Some go one better and embellish their accounts with lurid details that will win them brownie points with editors and chime in perfectly with the prejudices of their readership/ viewers.
However, the voices of those present start to be heard almost immediately on the internet, more more they speak out until some in the mainstream press picks up on it, at least the more honourable part of the press corp, yet still there is silence from nearly everyone else in the media. The UK channels either downplay the death or simply content themselves with replaying the police's report which seems to be more and more the product of a cover up than an initial, perhaps incomplete version of what happened.
Then videos come to light which definitively disprove the official version and eventually, unable to ignore the story anymore the major TV channels rush to air "exclusive footage" a week after they had originally received it. Like Captain Renault in Casablanca .
"Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
An officer comes forward knowing full well that his colleagues cannot hide what has happened anymore. His superiors once more issue bland reassurances of justice being done, even whilst they scramble to make sure that no such beast will ever see the light of day.
Balaclava clad thugs beat and harass people for days on end and we wonder why somebody died? It was surely a matter of time with such tactics that some idiot with a badge and an attitude would choose the wrong target, cross an invisible line that separates intimidation from outright violence. Ian Tomlinson's death was not a "tragic accident" or the result of the actions of "an overzealous officer" but rather the inevitable consequence of giving armed men carte blanche in dealing with crowds.
The officer must be cursing his luck at this moment, "Why me? I mean we were all doing the same thing?" And he is right, up to a point. In the days leading up to Tomlinson's death there were any number of similar incidents which did not end in tragic death.
Hopefully, it will be the lie that gets them. Hopefully, it will be the culture of silence and "corporate solidarity" that seals their fate, at least in the eyes of the public. As far as the courts are concerned we all know what will happens when "inconclusive evidence" rears its ugly head.
Ian Tomlinson - Killed for being in the wrong place, killed for being just that little bit too slow, killed for trusting the police not to use violence without cause.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
More footage has come to light that show the attack by London police on Ian Tomlinson just minutes before he died. Today ITN/Channel 4 aired video taken during the assault that once again contradicts the official version that said that Tomlinson died of natural causes and made no mention whatsoever of any police involvement in the death.
What really makes me angry is the fact that a major media outlet waited an entire week before it decided to release a visual record of what, could in all honesty be called an unlawful killing. In addition not one officer came forward until other footage published in the Guardian today came to light. Every officer who witnessed this killing decided that they could avoid not only their duty but also knowingly break the law in order to cover up the actions of a colleague.
There are so many comparisons I could make with the police shooting of Greek teenager, Alexis Grigoropoulos in December. Lies, cover ups, media indifference to anything other than the official police line are just some of the common points. The big difference is that people here didn't take such behaviour laying down.
Is it just me or does that fact that balaclava wearing men spent days beating peaceful protesters in the centre of a European capital with impunity strike you as deeply disturbing? Dark portents indeed.
After an embarrassingly long gap the mainstream media in Britain has finally woken up to the fact that there was something amiss about the death of Ian Tomlinson during last week's G20 summit protests. Initially, newspapers on the right of the UK political spectrum gleefully lapped up police accounts of beserker anarchists pelting officers and first aiders attempting to help Tomlinson, 47 who had apparently collapsed due to a heart attack whilst walking home from work through the protests in central London.
However, almost immediately images and accounts from people present started to circulate on the internet which contradicted the official account of what supposedly happened to Ian. Eyewitnesses spoke of efforts by demonstrators to help despite harassment and threats by the riot squad units in the vacinity. Thankfully, The Observer ran a story exposing the inconsistencies in the official version and video has been posted by The Guardian which shows a clearer idea of what really happened. That Ian had been the victim of an unprovoked attacked by a balaclava wearing officer who struck him from behind and shoved him to the floor just minutes before he died.
Still, questions still remain about what happened next. In the video Tomlinson seems to be shocked though basically unharmed, yet according to extra footage shown by the BBC the next thing we see is him surrounded by officers supposedly there to protect him whilst first aid was administered.
With so many video cameras around do the police really think that they will be able to cover this up the same way they did with Jean Charles de Menezes. One thing is certain though, they will try their best to make sure that the truth doesn't come out. Nor will they deal with the problem of heightened levels of police intimidation and violence that seem to accompany any large scale protest in the UK nowadays. If the Chinese, North Korean or Iranian authorities used these tactics the press would be screaming about suppression of civil liberties, yet when practiced by "good, old English bobbies" they are considered perfectly acceptable by much of the British press.
Time and time again I have heard members of the traditional media cry that bloggers and others who get their news out via the internet do not check their facts, are unreliable and prone to simply write whatever they like irrespective of what the truth of the matter is. And yet these same media professionals are just as likely to let stories like the Tomlinson case ride rather than do their job. They'd much rather simply copy and paste the official line and settle for a quite life than ask awkward questions that might get them in trouble with the editor/owner.
In such a situation what exactly is the advantage of their much vaunted professionalism and supposedly superior insight in the world of news gathering? Thankfully, there now exist a parallel system of reporting which can act as the mainstream media's conscience, should they care to listen.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I have Silence of Our Friends to thank for rescuing this video that I made just after the last national elections here in Greece in 2007. I posted it on Youtube only to have it pulled after " a third party" complained about my choice of music. For some strange reason it is still available on the blogs to which it was posted.
The clip consists of photographs I took during the 2007 campaign and, to tell you the truth, brings back a whole raft of memories, not all of them pleasant as I was the victim of an unprovoked attack by the MAT (Greek riot police) during a peaceful demo. I guess the case of Ian Tomlinson struck a raw nerve as, I suppose I could have suffered the same fate. Instead I ended up with a broken nose, dislocated shoulder and enough bruising to ensure I didn't get a good night's sleep for weeks after.
Unlike Ian, I was given the opportunity to turn my anger into something more productive.
Thankfully we live in a world were not just the authorities but also you and I can record what goes on around us. I think that the London Metropolitan Police have yet to grasp that our love of high tech Orwellian style surveillance equipment cuts both ways and they too are constantly in the eye of a media storm.
Of course, I was sure that the death of Ian Tomlinson who died minutes after an unprovoked attack by officers during the G20 summit demonstrations had also been recorded on one of the innumerable cameras that cover central London but now it turns out that a number of participants in the protests also recorded the attack and were able to get the message out unfiltered. Today's Guardian has footage taken of riot police hitting Tomlinson as he was quietly walking away from them, his hands in his pockets. Just minutes later he was dead, the victim of a heart attack according to official version of events.
The police announcement released soon after his death mentioned nothing of the attack and and indeed sought to blame protesters for supposedly impeding attempts by ambulance crews and officers to provide first aid. It seems there are lies, damned lies and official accounts.
It is interesting to note just how similar was the official reaction to Tomlinson's death to that of 15 year old Alexis Grigoropoulos, shot by police in Athens last December. In both cases the police gave out reports that was almost entirely at odds with eye witness accounts and later evidence. Yet much of the mainstream media choose to accept the official interpretation at face value even though those present told a different story. Also in both cases video footage came out that quickly disproved the version given by officers involved.
Unfortunately, I believe that we are likely to see a similar outcome in both cases and those responsible for both deaths are unlikely to get the punishment they so richly deserve. They'll find ways to worm their way of the fact that they are reason two people died without cause.
We will hear the same tired cliches such as "exemplary police behaviour", "professionalism" and that "they did an excellent job under very trying conditions". Words like "restraint" and "regrettable mistake" will be thrown around all the while the real villians of the piece will quietly merge into the background.
Just remember that your mobile/cell phone with its ability to take photos and video just may be your best weapon when the authorities next try to cover up incidences of their bad behaviour. It might not help in court but it will where it matters in people's hearts and minds.
Of course I'm sure that the death of Ian Tomlison who died minutes after an unprovoked attack by officers during the G20 summit demonstrations had also been recorded on one of the innumerable cameras that cover central London but now a number of participants in the protests also recorded the attack and were able to get the message out. Today's Guardian has footage taken of police hitting Tomlinson as he was quietly walking away from them, his hands in his pockets. Just minutes later he was dead, the victim of a heart attack according to official reports.
The police report released just after his death mentioned nothing of the attack and indeed sought to blame protesters for supposedly impeding attempted by ambulance crews and officers to provide first aid. It seems there are lies, damned lies and offical accounts.
Just remember that your mobile/cell phone with its ability to take photos and video just may be your best weapon when the authorities next try to cover up incidences of their bad behaviour.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Ian Tomlinson: "You have the right to be beaten. If you wish to give up this right, we will do it anyway"
During last week's G20 summit protests, Ian Tomlinson, 47 an employee in a newsagent's in the City died of a heart attack whilst on his way home. At least that was the official account of what happened according to the police at the time. Some other reports in UK media also spoke of attacks by protesters on officers and ambulance crew who were attempting to provide first aid.
As it turned out none of this is true. A report in the Observer now paints a very different account of what happened last week. According to several eye witnesses present at the time of the incident the Tomlinson had been the victim of a police attack just minutes before he died.
"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."
Also the circumstances in which Tomlinson was initially treated contradict official accounts. It now seems that few, if any objects were thrown by protesters at the police when they came to see what had happened.Indeed if the video below is to be believed then members of the riot squad attacked and harassed those providing first aid (click here for a full account by Indymedia).
Given the lies and misleading statements presented by the London Metropolitan police during the inquiry into the death of Brazilian national, Jean Charles de Menezes, shot eight times while sitting on a tube train I'm sure the authorities will find a way to avoid taking responsibility for Tomlinson's death. Practice does makes perfect in any kind of cover up.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
So, here we go with my own attempt on how to get GIMP to run on Mac OSX 10.4 (Tiger). All the hard work has been done by others on the internet so I'm just collating their efforts so they make sense to less technically minded souls.
1 Download GIMP for OSX 10.4 (if you are not sure what version of OSX you are using click on the blue apple in the top left hand corner and then click on About This Mac). You can find it on
Wilber Loves Apple site. Once again you can find out if you have an Intel or Power PC Mac by clicking on About This Mac.
2 Install Gimp.
3 Unfortunately for reason beyond my ken and pay grade you can't just run GIMP as it is and so you need to install Apple's X11. If you are lucky and/or conscientious then you can find this on you initial Tiger installation disc. Alternatively, go to Chris James Martin's blog here and download the two zip files there.
4 Next open the X11SKD.pkg first and then the X11User.pkg file.
5 Now run GIMP.
Just be warned. The first time I did this GIMP took forever to open. Afterwards it was much quicker though.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek public services closed down and transport was disrupted across the country Thursday as thousands of workers went on strike to protest government spending cuts.
We are definitely living in interesting times. Modes and levels of protest not seen in decades are sweeping many countries in Europe and elsewhere as the G20 leaders meet to discuss our future in London. Here in Greece the country is in the midst of a general strike organised by trade unions to protest the government spending cuts. In Northern Ireland workers have taken over three Ford owned plants, in France bosses of a factory scheduled to close were held hostage yesterday by sacked employees and, of course there have been protests in London.
Yesterday I followed events in Britain via the internet and once again I have come to the conclusion that the mainstream media are being outclassed by their internet rivals. The coverage of the demonstrations by the BBC ranged from the misleading to the trite and once again the established channels blindly accepted the official version given the police and authorities and resorted to long distance reporting via telephoto lens and imported "experts" who no more about what's happening down in the streets than I do here in Greece.
Even the coverge of the events inside the summit amounted to little more than gossip and observation more suited to a beauty pageant than a high level political event. I think I heard the same old statistics repeated hundreds of times. I wonder if anyone went to bother to check out if they are true or just decided that endlessly recycling press releases is easier than doing some first hand research.
Thankfully, I was also following events via Twitter, Flickr, Youtube and blogs which gave me a much more rounded view of events including the excesses of the police whose use of "kettling" (hemming in large groups of people for hours on end) seemed to be tailor made to create tension.
In addition, We also have video footage of the way in which UK riot police went out of their way to provoke violent response from protesters in the Climate Camp in Bishopgate.