They are bad though. An interesting analysis of recent Metropolitan Police behaviour by Jody McIntyre:
As I stated during my interview on BBC News last night, I believe that the police are acting as the biggest, armed, government-sponsored gang. Interestingly, rather than informing myself or my solicitor in advance, as would be normal procedure, the findings of the investigation were released straight to the media, late on a Friday afternoon. It is becoming increasingly clear that the police are intent on whitewashing what is a clear case of police brutality. They have now admitted to striking me with a baton, and there is video evidence, which has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people online, of a police officer tipping me out of my wheelchair and dragging me across the road. If this had been any other member of the public, he would be on trial for assault, but because it was a police officer, unaccountability is once again the order of the day.
The normal MO of the Met is to commit an act of brutality, lie horrifically about it, spin relentlessly about it with disinformation and then get off scot free because coroners hate to challenge them about as much as the IPCC. He can’t surely be surprised that an investigation into their treatment of him at the student protests exonerated them fully, when they look like they’re going to get away (as he points out) with prosecuting Alfie Meadows who they themselves beat.
Simon Harwood is going to be prosecuted but only because a) the Met were caught so badly on the back foot by cast iron evidence of his guilt b) its dissemination across Twitter and the wider web, c) a campaign by professional and citizen journalists was unwilling to let the force get away with it. Key though was the Met’s need for a scapegoat. Harwood’s brutality was standard operating procedure by the TSG, and they’ll get away with their excesses at the student protests because the media narrative was so overwhelmingly anti-student. Noone has yet been prosecuted for Jean Charles de Menezes’ murder.
Further proving John Pilger’s charge of coasting on the back of unquestioning journalism, the BBC has responded to the criticism of Ben Brown’s interview of Jody McIntyre:
We have received a considerable number of complaints about an interview Ben Brown did last night on the BBC News Channel with Jody McIntyre. The context of the interview was that Mr McIntyre was on the student demonstrations in London last week and video emerged yesterday of him being pulled out of his wheelchair by police.
I am aware that there is a web campaign encouraging people to complain to the BBC about the interview, the broad charge being that Ben Brown was too challenging in it. However I am genuinely interested in hearing more from people who have complained about why they object to the interview. I would obviously welcome all other views.
I have reviewed the interview a few times and I would suggest that we interviewed Mr McIntyre in the same way that we would have questioned any other interviewee in the same circumstances: it was quite a long interview and Mr McIntyre was given several minutes of airtime to make a range of points, which he did forcefully; Ben challenged him politely but robustly on his assertions.
Mr McIntyre says during the interview that “personally he sees himself equal to anyone else” and we interviewed Mr McIntyre as we would interview anyone else in his position. Comments more than welcome.
Kevin Bakhurst is the controller of the BBC News Channel and the BBC News at One and the deputy head of the BBC Newsroom.
John Pilger in his new documentary ‘The War You Don’t See’ charges the BBC above most news organisations with a disinterest in challenging power, particularly in questioning the position of the state. Brown’s interview and Bakhurst’s defence of it proves his point as effectively as his film – Brown took the police’s position on the action at the #dayx3 protest, the rationale behind it, and only ever attacked McIntyre on the most spurious grounds, fed by the police, not from anyone else’s experience or account of the day. Again and again he lambasts him for being a ‘revolutionary’ and implies that, under any circumstances, a man with his disability could have posed a threat to riot police. Never once does he pick up on McIntyre’s complaint about the Met’s attack and outrageous treatment of Alfie Meadows; Brown just soldiers on, implicitly again and again labelling his interviewee as part of the problem that day.
Brown’s ‘polite challenges’, through making them at all, effectively supported the police’s behaviour against him, through acknowledging that their claims and only their claims might have had merit. It’s disturbing but not surprising that Bakhurst doesn’t understand why that’s such a problem. It’s what FOX News does; it’s not what most of us expect from the BBC.
Can I just say WTF? How could a man with cerebral palsy ever have posed a threat to riot police? I’ve of course blogged earlier about Jody McIntyre and the police’s treatment of him on the #dayx3 student protest against the government’s policy to allow massive rises in university tuition fees, and am utterly shocked by Ben Brown’s behaviour – bias you’d normally expect from an Adam Boulton or a Kay Burnley. The video mostly speaks for itself, but McIntyre stands out particularly for destroying the establishment (ie. BBC) narrative on the protests, and with a grace not reciprocated by his accuser/interviewer. The BBC are still completely ignoring incidents like the attack on Alfie Meadows (and the Met’s appalling behaviour towards him afterwards) in favour of rewriting the student movement as an insurgent, ‘revolutionary’ attack on the state. For reasons known only to the BBC, they continue to report what the state gives them as fact, even when the state blatantly lies through its teeth to them. As I was reminded by John Pilger in the Q & A he gave after last night’s London screening of ‘The War You Don’t See‘, there are times that journalistic ‘neutrality’ is utterly ridiculous – in this instance there couldn’t be an equally valid alternative angle on the Met’s treatment of McIntyre. For Brown to push for one at the very least makes him and his employer look monstrously stupid, at worst it smacks of outright bias on his part.
Video of what happened to Jody McIntyre can be seen below:
In my opinion Brown is guilty of a serious breach of journalistic standards and should be held accountable for it. Suggesting McIntyre was in part responsible for student violence, and refusing to acknowledge police violence even when prompted by McIntyre to do so (and which he must have himself seen on the day), is pretty shocking. His appalling journalism across the entire #dayx3 protest story has thankfully been taken comprehensively apart by John Walker. Anyone who previously thought the BBC had any interest in challenging the state on anything should probably think again after this.
You can complain about Ben Brown’s treatment of McIntyre, if you’re minded to do so, here.
Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), a for profit organisation, has warned that the police should not be seen as the means by which the ConDems’ will is enforced:
Asked if there was a danger to the police’s reputation by repeated clashes at demonstrations, Orde told the Guardian: “Yes, if it is allowed to be played as the cops acting as an arm of the state, delivering the elected government’s will, rather than protecting the rights of the citizen.
“We need to be clear we are doing it as operationally independent, and not subject to influence by anyone as to how we do it.
“As long as that is maintained we can rebut any allegations that we are doing what we are told by our political masters to advance a political agenda. The police are not against anybody.”
Far too little and far too late. It’s become plainly clear even to children that the opposite is true – they are the state’s enforcers. Rebel against it and face pre-emptive civil liberties restrictions and unprovoked violence. Want some proof?
Tahmeena Bax, a third-year history student at Queen Mary University in east London, said she was hit directly over the head at least three times by a riot officer when police charged a group of kettled protesters on the evening of 30 November.
The incident took place at the north east end of Trafalgar square, close to the National Gallery at around 6pm, as protesters some distance from Bax lifted barriers protecting the police line. The police charged the crowd. “The police suddenly rushed forward and I couldn’t escape. I was hit at least three times, mainly on the right side of my head,” she told the Guardian.
Bax, 20, who had become separated from her fellow protesters from Queen Mary’s, staggered 10m away from the police and collapsed unconscious on the ground.
A witness, Katia Ganfield, said: “I saw her curled up in a ball. There was no response from her. We were all in shock as we didn’t think a young girl would be hit to the ground like that.”
Mr [Jody] McIntyre described what happened: “I was in Parliament Sq with my brother and we saw everyone running to one of the corners so we ran and made our way to the front.
“One policeman hit me with his baton in the shoulder then suddenly four or five of them picked me up, and dragged me from my chair. They carried me quite violently and against my will and put me on the pavement.
“Eventually after about 5 minutes, my brother was let through.
“What was even more shocking though, later on I had moved to the other side of Parliament Sq and I was sitting in my wheelchair in space in the middle of the road. A policeman recognised me from the earlier incident and came running over, pushed me out of my chair and dragged me across the road. This was completely unprovoked.”
Mr. McIntyre has not yet decided whether he will make a complaint against police, but was eager to make the point that this is not an isolated incident. “I’ve been to a lot of these protests and people are always violent with me” he said.
“Even though I’m in a wheelchair, I like to think we’re all equal human beings. There was plenty of violence towards students yesterday, and even though I’ve had media attention, all of this violence is equally disgraceful. But this is standard police behaviour.”
The police watchdog launched an independent investigation today after a 20-year-old student was left unconscious with bleeding on the brain after being hit on the head with a police truncheon.
Alfie Meadows, a philosophy student at Middlesex University, was struck as he tried to leave the area outside Westminster Abbey during last night’s tuition fee protests, his mother said.
After falling unconscious on the way to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Mr Meadows underwent a three-hour operation for bleeding on the brain.
His mother Susan, 55, an English literature lecturer at Roehampton University, said: “He was hit on the head by a police truncheon.
“He said it was the hugest blow he ever felt in his life.
“The surface wound wasn’t very big but, three hours after the blow, he suffered bleeding to the brain.
“He survived the operation and he’s in the recovery room.”