Have you been following the case of Ian Tomlinson?
On April 1, Tomlinson, a London (UK) resident, was on his way home from work, walking slowly with his hands in his pockets. He passed by the G20 demonstrations.
Apparently he got in the way of some London police - who threw him to the ground and clubbed him.
A few moments later, he died. It appeared he suffered a heart attack, and an initial autopsy confirmed that.
The Guardian published video of the incident on their website.
As you can see, Tomlinson's hands were in his pockets when he was thrown down.
Two weeks later, London cops attacked and beat people who attended a vigil for Tomlinson. [Thanks to James for this one, which I would have missed.]
Last Friday, April 17, a second autopsy revealed that Ian Tomlinson did not die of a heart attack. The cause of death was internal, abdominal bleeding. The doctor who performed the second autopsy found evidence of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) around Tomlinson's heart, but said it was insufficient to have caused death.
The London Metropolitan Police are now requesting a third autopsy be performed, since the first two coroners came to different conclusions. Meanwhile, we should not forget that even if Tomlinson's death was caused by a heart attack, the heart attack itself would have been caused by the police's brutal, unprovoked attack.
Many journalists, both mainstream and bloggers, have emphasized that Ian Tomlinson did nothing wrong. He was simply walking by the protests. And now he is dead. True. And awful beyond measure.
But I'd like to remind us all: if Tomlinson had been a protestor, this would still be wrong. Public protest is not a crime. And if someone commits a crime during a public protest, they should not be clubbed - to death or otherwise - in the street!
Here, courtesy of BoingBoing, is video of London police viciously beating peaceful G20 protestors.
Police violence is often justified and rationalized by pointing to the victim's criminal record. But if that's the case, then the victim should have been arrested, arraigned and tried. Unless we want to live in a society where the "justice" system is the police - here's a club, go get some bad guys - this kind of violence must be condemned and punished, no matter what the perceived innocence or guilt of the victim.