Thursday, 9 April 2009

A series of unfortunate incidents

The left hand side of the blogosphere seems to be rather angry about the death of an 'uninvolved' person at the G20 riot last week. There seems to currently be a lot of low level ranting on the subject, so I thought I'd have a good long dispassionate look at the situation and make as objective a personal assessment as I can, knowing how easily people can froth at the keyboard over incidents like these.

Firstly, one has to take a step back and see how charged the situation was. Nervous inexperienced Copper togged up in riot gear, which I am told gets hot and sweaty very easily, thus temporarily reducing officer in questions decision making ability; add a soon-to-be-dead man with a bit of a chip on his shoulder who has had negative experience with the Police before. Man with chip on shoulder also has heart condition which nobody seems to know about, least of all him. Uptight people all over the place looking for a casus belli. Inexperienced people all over the place in key positions which naturally leads to the rapid implementation of the universal law of cock up a.k.a. Murphy's law.

Let's have a look at the timeline of events; Dead man is on his way somewhere and runs into a tactical riot squad section (or whatever), all hot sweaty and nervous, with strict orders to 'let no one pass' their line in order to contain all the rioters and demonstrators in one place. He tries to pass their line. He is refused. Sharp words are exchanged and soon-to-be-dead man feels hard done by. He wants to get to his destination and no bloody copper is going to get in the way.

Having watched the video carefully, and basing my judgement on three years on-street experience observed the soon-to-be-dead man's body language, I was forced to the following conclusion; the soon-to-be-dead man was not best pleased at being baulked by a line of riot police that are nothing to do with him and is 'having an arse' or sulk. Passive-aggressively showing his disapproval. Note the posture, the expression on his face, the hunched shoulders and hands deeply stuffed in pockets. All danger signals that someone is going to try and be an immovable object. He wants to go and shows his disapproval by patently looking for a break in the line of Police in riot gear. Nearby officer (The one who made the baton strike) picks up on this and becomes more alert and nervous. Is soon to be dead man a threat or not? Briefing says let no one pass. Does soon-to-be-dead man's behaviour mean that he's about to kick off? Nervous officer tightens grip on baton, just in case.

Riot police get word to move from tactical based on rioters behaviour in another street, and soon-to-be-dead man either refuses to be shepherded out of his way or just doesn't move fast enough. Nervous Copper in line thinks he (Soon-to-be-dead man) is a threat to the line-which-must-not-be-broken's integrity, overreacts and makes baton strike, throwing man to the ground. Man may still feel 23 in his head, but his body says otherwise and loosened atheroma blocks blood flow to the heart muscle and bingo, one massive and fatal heart attack.

Now I'm not trying to make excuses for anyone, but based upon my own experience, I tend to think my précis version of events has the highest chance of being true. If confronted by Coppers in riot gear and with orders to 'contain' a situation, you might as well just find a nice quiet place to sit down out of their way and grab a quick coffee and read of the papers, or 'comfort break' and watch the fun from the sidelines. Trying to confront riot police in any way shape or form just makes them ready to kick off. Lose-lose all round.

A man died, and it was very probably for the reasons outlined above. The man should not have played his face, and the officer in question should not have used his baton. It was all an accident waiting to happen. It is worth noting that the man's resultant heart attack was in all probability only a few days away, whether the incident had occurred or not. Something else would have triggered it sooner or later. An argument with a family member, or anything else that would have sent pulse and blood pressure through the roof. What can you say? Wrong place, wrong time.

I feel sad for the man and his family, but also for the officer concerned. One is dead leaving an yawning emotional chasm where his presence once was, the other may have the rest of his career tainted. There are no winners here.


Scoakat said...

Hi Bill,
I'm following anonymously now, it seemed unsettling having my name pop up here (or anywhere). Investigating that option on your site is how I found myself signing up. I'm not sure I want to put my new blog out there too much. I think I will just give the address to family and friends at first since I'm terrible at phones, emails, etc. My mom can just check what I've been doing anytime.

Here it is, but it may not be of interest to anyone unless they know me:

Now, I have alot of stuff to figure out about blogspot if I'm going to make a go of it!

Mummy x said...

Cracking post Uncle Bill. Having got caught up in the whole G20/police/dead man ranting thing myself I decided to take a step back and clear my head. And I reckon your opinion on this is about as good as it get's. Simple, concise and most importantly, totally not paranoid. Normally I would link up your post at my place but I have already vowed not to mention this subject again (well untill after the enquirey etc). Hope this is ok (loved the title).
Mummy x

Anonymous said...

So a copper in riot gear gets to shove around anyone he wants without being accountable? Can't you seethe problem here?

The officer in questions hould not have used his baton. That is the crucial part of the entire issue. If the officer hadn't been in uniform but just a random bloke, well, a prosecution seems to me to be somewhat more likely. Stop apologising. The Boys In Blue aren't angels. If Joe Public pays for his mistakes then so should they.

Bill Sticker said...


It's an assessment of the events, not an apology. Watch the video evidence carefully. You'll see what I mean.

As for Riot cops pushing people about; erm forcible containment's their job or they wouldn't be riot police would they? Dear me.



Anonymous said...

An incredibly charitable assessment of events, in my opinion.

I thought Riot Police were there to contain violence, not cause it.

MuppetLord said...

Greetings. I thought you might have something to add about the incident, especially seeing as the 5 second bit of film was very inconclusive.

Of course, all that will happen is that the policeman in question will be blamed, regardless of whether the man was a heart attack waiting to happen or not.

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