Thursday, April 2, 2009

Memorial to London G20 Dead protester Ian Tomlinson

The man who died of a suspected heart attack in the City last night following a day of violent G20 protests has been named as Ian Tomlinson, a 47-year-old who worked in a newsagents.

City of London police said Mr Tomlinson, who lived in the City, was on his way home from the shop when he collapsed in St Michael's Alley close to the junction of Birchin Lane and Cornhill at 7.30pm.

It is not clear whether he had taken part in the protest or was simply passing through the area.

His family issued a statement which read: "Ian came from a large, loving family and he will be sadly missed by us all. The police are keeping us informed of any developments."

A postmortem examination is due to take place today, and the matter has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Earlier today, the first witness accounts emerged of Mr Tomlinson's last moments as thousand of demonstrators gathered in the City to pay tribute to him.

Jasper Jackson, 23, from London, who photographed Mr Tomlinson's collapse, said he had been standing in front of a line of police dog handlers minutes before he fell over. "The picture I have of him is of him stumbling in front of the protesters and in front of the police dogs looking dazed," he said. "He had a glazed look on his face. Then it was drawn to my attention that somebody shouted to the police with a loud hailer that there was a casualty and said, 'Can we get a medic?' "

The incident appears to have taken place shortly after lines of riot police attempted to clear protesters out of Cornhill Road and away from the Bank of England. Rows of police separated protesters inside and outside the containment pen.

Sporadic scuffles broke out on both sides of the lines, with police using their batons intermittently.

Pictures seen by the Guardian, and corroborated by witnesses, suggest that Mr Tomlinson initially fell to the ground by a window of 11 Royal Exchange, outside the Mont Blanc shop, in front of five riot officers.

A subsequent picture shows him being lifted off the floor by a protester.

Seconds later, he is seen walking past a line of police dogs. He is believed to have collapsed again close to the junction of Birchin Lane, near a Starbucks and Office Angels.

Jackson said Mr Tomlison was then surrounded by police officers who were pelted with at least one missile.

"There were a couple of people throwing bottles in that general direction," he said. "But they were told to stop doing that by the crowd. In fact, some people in the crowd threatened to kill them if they did anything to disrupt the treatment."

Another witness, Fran Legg, said she and a friend had rushed to help Mr Tomlinson after they realised he was not well. "People were calling out: 'Please, we need medics over here'," said the 20-year-old student, from Tavistock, in Devon. "Someone called an ambulance." Her friend put him in the recovery position and noticed he had blood on his face and was losing consciousness.

Legg said protesters were calling for people to move back and give him space as eight police officers arrived. By the time the ambulance reached the scene 10 minutes later, Mr Tomlinson was very white and could hardly breath.

Outside the Bank of England this afternoon — where protesters scrawled tributes on a wall of condolence — two demonstrators who had travelled from Manchester told how they saw paramedics attempting to resuscitate the 47-year-old.

"The officers were white as sheets," said Andy Bowman, a 24-year-old PhD student. "The blood had drained from their faces. They were giving us conflicting stories about what had happened; some of the officers were saying he had a blow to the head and some were saying he'd collapsed of a heart attack."

His friend Thomas Barlow, 26, said: "Some of the police were taking their helmets off, looking shocked.

"We were crossing the road and accidentally looked round and saw it.

"Someone called out, 'That person's hurt', and we went to have a look.

"The policemen around us tried to force us on very quickly."

By 3pm, the 1,200 people who had joined the tribute march from Bishopsgate sat and stood peacefully in Exchange Square, where they were surrounded by at least 150 police officers who had cordoned them in.

Two of the organisers, neither of whom wished to be named, had earlier called for action over Mr Tomlinson's death and criticised the policing tactics used yesterday.

"A man here died yesterday inside a police cordon," said one. "We're calling for information about this person's death and for an independent public inquiry. This person died inside a police cordon. He was supposed to be under the care of the police and the police have a responsibility for the people they cordon in."

He added: "We want to know what happened and we want to show our solidarity. We can't accept that people can die inside a police cordon and for us to receive no information about it."

Another demonstrator, clutching a bunch of lilies, said: "On behalf of the organisers, we extend our sympathies to the family of the gentleman who died yesterday exercising his democratic right to lawful protest."

She said it was "appalling" that someone could die while being "kettled".

She went on: "I don't see why people had to do that. They did it, somebody died and now we want answers."

More people are expected to congregate in Exchange Square as news of the tribute filters out.


Democracy and Class Struggle says from eyewitness reports it appears that Ian Tomlinson died of a heart attack after police dogs attacked demonstration.

Ian Tomlinson was standing in front of police when they unleashed dogs and had a heart attack.

You can see video of police dogs attacking demonstrators on Democracy and Class Struggle Television on the top right of this page.

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