Law, Justice and Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘kettling’

The Ian Tomlinson inquest was justice seen to be done

In City University London, Journalism, Justice on May 4, 2011 at 2:40 pm

By Chris Greer and Eugene McLaughlin

This article first appeared on the Guardian’s Comment is Free site.

The inquest into Ian Tomlinson’s death has concluded that he was unlawfully killed by a police officer at the G20 demonstrations in April 2009. Reported daily via live blogs, this was the first inquest made accessible in real time to millions of virtual onlookers. The Tomlinson inquest is a landmark development in the live coverage of justice.

One of the most noticeable characteristics of the G20 protests was the sheer density and variety of recording devices. Police “kettling” tactics allowed no distinction between journalists, demonstrators and passersby. As a result, police-media-protester-public interactions took place in tight spatial proximity, simultaneously creating a captive audience to surrounding events. In this kind of context, control of the information and communication environment was impossible.

At first, the police strenuously denied any involvement with Tomlinson prior to his collapse. Witness statements immediately contested the police position. But it was the video footage shot by Chris La Jaunie and passed to the Guardian that proved Tomlinson had been struck and pushed to the ground by a police officer. Were it not for this visual evidence, the Metropolitan police service (MPS) would have successfully denied and defused allegations of police violence: the policing of G20 could have ended up in its “Greatest Hits” portfolio of how to police public order events in the capital. Because of the visual evidence, the institutional authority of the police was questioned, and then successfully challenged.

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