18 April 2009

Paramilitary Police Tactics Against Protestors Are Not Good

As has been reported, Ian Tomlinson, paper vendor, was struck from behind by riot police in London during the G20 protests. Mr. Tomlinson was not part of the protests and was on his way home from his job when he was struck from behind by the police. The police had reported that he had died of a heart attack. However, it has turned out from a second autopsy (and first independent one) that Mr. Tomlinson died of internal abdominal bleeding caused by being struck. The police officer in question has been interrogated but not charged with any crime, yet.

The documentary, This is What Democracy Looks Like, was shot by cameras from over 100 independent media activists during the anti-globalization protests in Seattle in 1999. The documentary showed a disturbing trend that continued thereafter: the militarization of local law enforcement in the United States (and elsewhere). (For those readers that come from countries that were subjected to multiyear martial law rule, in countries where martial law was not the prevailing governing principle, local law enforcement organizations were not militarized.)

The tension between local law enforcement's increase in paramilitary activities and anti-globalization activists came to an abrupt end on September 11, 2001 when militarizing all aspects of domestic public culture in the United States and elsewhere became the prevailing public policy. This was granular martial law without the declaration of it with surgical disregard for the Writ of Habeaus Corpus.

In Honolulu, the protest-march against the Asian Development Bank in May 2001 was the last major organized protest until the world came together and marched against the U.S. invasion of Iraq in January, 2003. In those eighteen months, all hope was lost. The people I marched with in May 2001 had a sense of purpose and hope that their marching would help change the world. The people I marched with in January 2003 had a sense of resignation and mourning.

I hope that the officer who killed Mr. Tomlinson is prosecuted. However, I don't think that this event, which is a consequence of the militarization of local law enforcement, will change any of the underlying policies that contributed to Mr. Tomlinson's death.

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