“Ladies and gentleman of the press” leave now of face arrest

Just looking at the G20 coverage on Guardian.co.uk: Maybe more sinister than police attacking peaceful protesters — because it may show intent — is a video where an office addresses the “ladies and gentleman of the press” and asks them to leave the area or they will be arrested.

The officer from the City of London police, who was only following orders in fairness, said the senior officer is using the UK Public Order Act to move them. The Public Order Act, along with the Irish act of the same name, is often claimed to be often misused. As the Guardian says, the law was “intended primarily to disperse potentially disruptive or violent gatherings.”

The newspaper also reports the “Metropolitan police, which led the G20 operations, later apologised for using the measure on members of the press.” But is that good enough of a response to blocking the media from watching how the police were to “resolve the situation”, when the “situation” is a peaceful protest?

There is also another video clearly showing the police charging a group of photographers and camera operators.

In general, the Guardian, and members of the public who help them, have to be commended for some great coverage of London police attacking peaceful G2o protesters, people trying to get home, and the media.

It’s coverage of the death of Ian Tomlinson — who was just trying get home after work — in print and online has been excellent. The newspaper’s pages of photographs and text put the spotlight on the police’s attack on Tomlinson just moments before his death. And it put the Independent Police Complaints Commission to shame for not launching a full investigation from the start.

Tomlinson died of internal bleeding and not of a hart attack as first reported. He was an Evening Standard newspaper seller who was apparently finding it hard to get home because of blocked streets. A police officer attacked Tomlinson from behind and struck him to the ground while he had his hand in his pockets and was walking away from a group of officers.

An editorial today in the Guardian’s Sunday paper, the Observer, “The public are fast losing patience with thuggish policing” talks of the police in the UK over stepping the mark in more than just the G20 policing. I only found it while writing the above, but it sums up what I want to say far better than I could have:

This aggression is no doubt linked to the government’s nasty habit of writing laws that prefer the convenience of security forces to the rights of free citizens. But the police are public servants, not government enforcers. Their job is to keep the peace, not clear the streets of dissent.