PC Simon Harwood, a member of the Met’s infamous “Territorial Support Group”, is a killer. Nothing libellous about that claim: he dodged the bullet that was the charge of the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 demo in London (and remember, Tomlinson was not a demonstrator but merely a member of the public trying to get home after a day’s work), but the jury for the inquest into Tomlinson’s death found that he’d been “unlawfully killed” by the police officer – and the inquest jury came to this conclusion after seeing and hearing evidence just like that used in the subsequent trial. So PC Harwood is a killer, who unlawfully killed Ian Tomlinson by way of a cowardly attack from behind. Coward and killer – I foresee a successful career for him in the police. How come he hasn’t been promoted yet?
Of course, Harwood is just one of a great many police officers who have killed people and gotten away with it scott free. According to a Guardian article today, no police officer has been convicted of manslaughter for a crime committed while on duty since 1986, though since then hundreds have died in police custody or soon after contact with the police. It was only because of Tomlinson’s family’s tenacity, the accumulation of evidence against Harwood and, perhaps most crucially, the video of the attack made by an American tourist, that Harwood was taken to court. And still he got away with it. Many many people have been killed by the police, but these slayings are never even investigated, never mind prosecuted. In her piece for the Guardian, Nadine El-Enany goes on:
Harwood’s actions were not exceptional. Not only have hundreds died in police custody, but also police violence at public events is commonplace, most recently during the student demonstrations of 2010, during which anti-fees protesters were charged at by officers on horses, atacked with batons and kettled late into the night. In a statement today, Defend the Right to Protest has highlighted the importance of “supporting all those in their struggle to hold the police accountable for their actions, whether on demonstrations, in our communities or in custody”.
Until the pyschopaths and thugs, potential killers, or actual killers like Harwood, are sacked from the force, until the police abandon such brutal forms of crowd control tactics like kettling, and accept that the right to free assembly and to demonstrate are clear-cut human rights, trust in the police will continue to fall. How can we trust and respect people like Harwood to defend us?