Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Police have been caught on video viciously beating teenagers on bicycles in a shocking and apparently unprovoked attack in Manchester.
Given recent disturbances, police were out in force and it's no surprise that they were prepared to use force, but this shocking footage shows them viciously attacking apparently innocent teenagers. The victims were heading away from the city centre.
The video shows the police and teenagers coming across each other and the police then knock the teenagers of their bicycles and proceed to viciously beat them in a prolonged attack. The teenagers don't appear to offer any resistance, and the police use weapons and one can be seen apparently kicking and stamping upon someone laying on the floor. At one point about four policeman lay into one cyclist, who had stopped, dismounted, and waited for them next to his bicycle, and appear to beat him relentlessly even after he has collapse to the floor. Another victim is apparently kicked and stamped, as he is prone on the ground further up the street. A pair of pedestrians can be seen backing into a corner in horror at the onslaught, before hurrying away, clearly in fear that they may be attacked next.
It is possible that the police were responding to helicopter instructions to intercept a group of suspected looters or vandals, but the police have not at this time offered any explanations for the attack. Eyewitness reports were that no arrests were made, suggesting there was offence had been committed by the youths that were beaten. We asked Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan whether he had any explanation and he ignored the question.
Police had advised people to stay of the streets and to be prepared for robust policing, so the youths were ill advised to be in the area, but there was no curfew, so they were within their rights to be there. The police do not have the legal power to beat people, or issue extra judicial summary justice, and are required to use the minimum necessary force to prevent crime or arrest people.
In any case, the prolonged and un-provoked nature of the attack, with no warning issued and no resistance offered, is shocking and highly illegal. To a casual observer it seems to be a case of vicious police thugs taking our their frustrations on passers by. Or a case of summary "justice" being administered against people the police may have suspected as having been involved in the troubles. However, given their refusal to offer an explanation, we can't know what their motivation was.
This incident comes on the back of the fatal police shooting of a man in Tottenham, who police originally claim had shot at them, striking an officer, but have since been forced to admit, that they only shots fired were by police officers. The shot that hit the officer being fired by a colleague. This incident is still being investigated, so it is not known if there was any justification for the killing.
Although less serious than killing a man, unless the police can prove that they had information that these specific victims of this attack had been involved in illegal acts and resisted arrest for the duration of the onslaught, this will cost the country dear in compensation, and further undermine confidence in the police. It's exactly this kind of abuse of trust which has been cited by some as motivating the recent disturbances.