The G20 protesters' stories: Allegations over police treatment on the frontline

The death of Ian Tomlinson has thrown the spotlight on police actions during the G20 demonstrations in the City of London on April 1. The Guardian has spoken to a number of people who allege they were mistreated by the police. Here some tell their stories

Locator map of G20 protesters

Locator map of G20 protesters. Photograph: Guardian

1: 1.22pm, Threadneedle Street, Michael Preston, 43, press photographer, from London

On Old Broad Street I was pushed on my back by an inspector, who was moving journalists backwards. I went sprawling and broke my laptop. When I said [to the inspector]: 'You just pushed me over,' he got his face really close to mine and shouted at the top of his voice, 'Don't be stupid, that's a ridiculous suggestion'.

The police were trying to hold photographers back to prevent us from photographing the demo. Effectively, none of us could work properly. Later, after midday on Threadneedle Street, police were hitting the first four rows of the crowd but it was having no effect because of the surge of people from behind.

The police were lashing out. I think it was a mix of British Transport police and Metropolitan police officers. There were loads of baton charges. I was swirling about in the crowd. After taking a picture at 1:21pm, I held up my camera in my right hand and had a press card in my left hand. I shouted to police: 'I'm press, I'm press'.

The officer who was coming toward me made eye contact and shouted: 'I don't care. Get back, get back.' There was nowhere for me to go. He then swung his truncheon upwards to hit me on my left elbow. He certainly saw my press pass. I've never felt pain like that in my life. I couldn't open my eyes. Later there were lumps on my arms the size of potatoes. My arm was broken.

I've now ordered a military Kevlar helmet with press written on the front and back for protection when I cover another demonstration.

2: 4.45pm, Threadneedle Street, Jack Bright, 19, from Kent

We were at the front. I was being hit. I went forward a couple of yards and got smacked. Ultimately - by the Royal Bank of Scotland - I could understand it was a general fight [between protesters and police]. But down this end we were just sat around to have a peaceful protest and they stormed in hitting us.

3: 7.15pm, Threadneedle Street

A man suffers bites inflicted by a police dog near the Bank of England.

4: 11pm, Bishopsgate, Ernest Rodker, 71, cabinet maker, from south London

I was on the demonstration around the Bank of England, and in the evening I went with a friend to the climate camp to see what was going on.

Before we got to it we reached a cordon, a line of riot police moving people north up Bishopsgate. They were being very aggressive. They were shouting, 'Move. Move.' They were bellowing. Some people were trying to get out of the way, on the side of the street, but they were being forced on.

I saw one woman who had collapsed on the ground with her head in her hands. She looked completely terrified. A policeman was just standing over her, just shouting 'Move'. This was a crowd of about 100 people, not a threatening group.

Then, without any warning, a couple of policeman knocked me to the ground. It was a bit like what happened to Ian Tomlinson. It wasn't a push, it was like a rugby tackle.

I was holding my camera so I couldn't break my fall properly and landed very heavily. I scrambled up and they were screaming at me - 'Move, just move' - at the top of their voices. It was like a tactic to frighten people. Then they knocked me over again.

I don't know how many police pushed me. I was a bit shaken by then. I broke my hip a few years ago and for a second I was worried it might have happened again.

As it is, I've got a very big, painful bruise down my side. I went to see my doctor, and he looked at it and just said, 'My God'.

5: 9.45pm, Bishopsgate, Chris Abbott, 30, deputy director of Oxford Research Group thinktank, from London

After the first police charge on the climate camp at about 7.30pm it had calmed down, and we were all just sitting there.

The next thing you know the riot police just steamed in, without any warning at all. I was still sitting on the ground and a policeman leant over the top of my girlfriend and punched me right in the face, on the nose. I could see him pulling back his fist and was thinking, 'I can't believe he's about to do this.' I was surrounded by a group of police, maybe four or five. They started punching me and hitting me on the temple and cheekbone with the edge of their shields. I had my hands in the air to show I wasn't resisting and my head tucked into my chest for protection.

I was worried about my girlfriend as I couldn't see her but I was also starting to get a bit worried for myself, thinking this was getting out of hand. I realised I was stuck in a bit of a corner. You could see the police looking round, wondering who to go for, and there wasn't really anyone left apart from me. The police were basically a gang. They were looking for people to beat up. I was thinking, 'It could get very, very nasty now.'

Luckily ... a member of the public dragged me away, saying, 'Leave him alone, he's not doing anything.'

The police didn't give us any orders. It wasn't even that we could leave. We were trapped. The whole thing was ludicrous. It was a really well-planned protest, with legal observers and police liaisons. People came to have a peaceful protest and by that time they just wanted to go home, and would have happily done so."

6: 9.45pm, Bishopsgate, Louise Broadbent, 27, environmental consultant, from London

I was sitting down in the climate camp with my boyfriend, we'd been there for two or three hours. We were laughing and joking with the police. About half an hour before it happened, they started saying, 'We've got a little surprise for you,' but they wouldn't say anything more.

Then, with no warning that I could hear, the police just steamed in. They were doing a lot of kicking and punching. Two police got hold of me, one on each side, and pulled me away. They had me in a wristlock on both sides, my arms pulled right up behind me, telling me they were going to break my wrists.

Once I was outside the cordon they were saying, 'What shall we do with her now?' and laughing. And one said, 'Let's chuck her back in.'

They shouted, 'Coming through!' and literally threw me into the air, head first, booting me in the back. Luckily I landed on top of someone, but I've still ended up with an egg-sized lump on my head.

"I've got no idea what they were doing. I assumed they were dragging me out to arrest me, or take me away. I've complained to the IPCC, and to my MP and London Assembly member.

7: 11.45pm, Bishopsgate, Paul Saville, sociology and criminology student, from Bristol

You could feel the atmosphere change. As the evening went on, what you'd call the daytime police, the friendly ones, gradually left and riot police took their place.

When they moved in they started beating people with batons and shields. Some people sat down and they were literally walking over them.

My girlfriend was at our tent so I ran back. But the police line was moving too fast. I got hit with a baton on my elbow, on my wrist and then on my shoulder. I got pushed over two or three times and fell heavily. I'm not sure if it was this or the batons that broke the wrist. I didn't know it was broken, I just couldn't feel my thumb.

As we got funnelled out down the south end of Bishopsgate the police there were taunting us, saying, 'Good night, sweet dreams, hope you had fun.'

When I shut my eyes I can still hear the police shouting. The wrist is going to get better but that's what I keep thinking about.

• This article was amended on Saturday 11 April 2009. Caption material had originally identified a man who was bitten by a police dog near the Bank of England as Justin Meggitt. The identity of the man is unknown. It was Justin Meggitt who took the photo of the man used in the print version of this story. This has been corrected.


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The G20 protesters' stories: Allegations over police treatment on the frontline

This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 00.01 BST on Saturday 11 April 2009. It appeared in the Guardian on Saturday 11 April 2009 on p10 of the UK news section. It was last updated at 17.17 BST on Sunday 12 April 2009.

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