Thursday, April 9, 2009
"It's the lie that gets you" - Oliver Stone's Nixon.
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.