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The tragic death of Ian Tomlinson has cast a pall over the public reputation of British policing. As the eyewitness accounts (and photograph) in this issue indicate, and as the legal report compiled by the Climate Camp demonstrates, there was, on 1 April, a systematic pattern of brutal action by the police forces dealing with nonviolent protesters in the City of London.
It is shocking, but nevertheless true, that the mainstream media would not have scrutinised this criminal police behaviour, and forced a review of Metropolitan police tactics and strategy, if Mr Tomlinson had not died, and if an anonymous banker had not handed in his mobile phone footage of Mr Tomlinson being pushed to the ground from behind by a police officer.
While there is currently a storm of protest – and events are developing day by day – past experience warns us that the media and the political class have short memories. It will require a sustained and serious effort over many years if we are to put an end to police brutality and, for example, the casual use of the mass imprisonment of people in a protest environment (“kettling”).
Jenny Linnell, the British International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist in Gaza, recently visited Ayman al-Najar, the 15-year-old Gazan whose wounded back was featured on the cover of PN 2506.
After receiving plastic surgery in Egypt, Ayman (above, photographed by ISM on 19 April) is back in his home village Khoza’a, living with relatives (his own home was demolished in the Israeli assault). His wounds have finally begun healing, though he is still taking medication. He is up and about, and going to school, as his community comes to terms with the devastation Israel has caused.