Posts Tagged ‘Metropolitan Police’

Photo from the Guardian.

So the bullet which was recovered from a police radio, supposedly fired during Mark Duggan’s arrest, is now discovered to be a bullet from a police issue gun.

This is how the police and media operate in crisis situations when the police have really fucked up, and particularly when they kill someone. Immediately after the event there is a big, detailed lie. That lie says the police are completely innocent and acted in good faith and the victim was behaving in a way which meant the police had little choice but to use lethal force. The lie doesn’t necessarily come from the official police channels, but unofficial ones, a friendly officer briefs a friendly journalist. Sometimes (as in the case of Jean-Charles de Menezes) the story comes from a supposed witness who imagines a media-friendly version of events with a clear narrative and therefore gets airplay on every media outlet repeatedly for several days.

Everyone hears this story.

Then it becomes apparent, thanks to the persistence of decent journalists and campaigners, that this version of events is completely, or substantially, untrue. But the correction doesn’t appear all at once as a coherent version of events; instead details are ‘clarified’ and corrected one by one until it becomes apparent that what most people understand to have taken place never took place at all. But by this time a lot of people are no longer following the story.

So the public understanding of what has taken place becomes a mass of confusions and misunderstandings; some people know this detail; others think that’s wrong and have heard something else; a proper informed understanding of what’s happened is confined only to people actively following up every connection to the story. The problem is exacerbated by the laziness and irresponsibility of media commentators who don’t make the effort to be fully informed before they weigh in on an issue.

It’s worth noting that the version of events on the Metropolitan Police press page has been simplified over the last couple of days, removing any reference to shots fired on the police. This may be due to the ongoing IPCC investigation. But the IPCC investigates every police shooting, so you would expect the Met to exercise caution in releasing details on the Mark Duggan case.

PS. My sister on facebook on the police:

…I’d like to suggest that it’s difficult to sit in a police car, fire a bullet from your own gun into your own or your colleague’s chest and then make the honest mistake of thinking that bullet came from the gun of a man sitting in a different car and that you must therefore shoot and kill him dead. That is not an honest mistake. That is not only a cover-up but a deliberate lie, and probably a murder.


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Following the student demos on the 24th November, when my sister was kettled for eight hours, I made a complaint to the Metropolitan Police about their tactics and I’ve now received a reply (pdf, below). Superintendent Roger Gomm defends the use of ‘containment’ (he says: “‘Kettling’, as it is referred to in the media, is not a term used by the police”) on the following grounds:

On [the 24th], two marches met up in Trafalgar Square and about 3,000 demonstrators proceeded down Whitehall. Limited police intelligence* suggested that some of the protestors were intent on getting to the Liberal Democrat headquarters in Cowley Street. Police cordons were in place to prevent that and to prevent the march from getting in to Parliament Square. Skirmishes broke out with demonstrators attacking police line and destroying hoarding around road works. This resulted in a containment being authorised. During the period of containment, a police carrier within the crowd area was attacked and amaged. damage was also caused to telephone boxes, bus stops, the Old War Office and the Treasury. Attempted incursions into premises in Whitehall by protestors were prevented. During the day a number of police officers and members of the public were injured and a large number of arrests were made for public order offences and criminal damage, both on the day and subsequently.

You can see the full letters here. The second one is an explanation of why my complaint is being treated as a concern and not a complaint against a police officer.

Response to police complaint 1

Response to police complaint 2

This is a fairly standard defence of kettling; the Met were saying the same sort of thing the day after the protests. But by their own account most incidents of public disorder and vandalism happened after containment began. I also question the ‘large number’ of arrests – in actual fact the Guardian reported that only 32 people had been arrested, and 17 injured, with 13 needing hospital treatment. One of the arrests was for stroking a horse.

The assertion that water and toilet facilities were provided “where possible” is, of course, simply untrue. The statement that “the consideration of a release plan to allow vulnerable persons […] a means to leave the containment was treated as a top priority” is either a lie, or was not apparent to sick friends who asked to be treated by police medics when they became ill inside the kettle.

Yopu can also read my other sister’s report of Saturday’s demonstration in Manchester here – well worth a read.

* Ha ha ha.

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