Police violence at protests is usually expected, even if unacceptable. Police violence against a person occupying a wheelchair is neither. Yet not only did it recently occur, against student activist Jody McIntyre, but also horrifically, the media reporting on the event (without attempting to generalise) essentially criminalised McIntyre and not the police officers who dragged Jody from his wheelchair violently and then dragged him across the concrete pavement.
Media coverage of the recent student protests has on the whole been quite damning, and whether or not you support the violence of the student protesters, it is understandable that the newspapers of “Middle England” on the whole stand up for “sensibilities” opposed to that of “radical Leftie” violence. Therefore the protests sparked quite widespread condemnation. The condemnation is increased when it’s against the HQ of a mainstream political party and is then increased even more so when the Prince of Wales and his wife are surrounded and hassled by student protesters in the protective confines of their car. All of this is probably to be expected, and even though the details of student protestors who have been severely hospitalised by police brutality are on the whole omitted as statistics along with the police officers who received a bloody nose or a broken finger nail. However what people may find surprising; though a true indication of the media and the climate; is when a student activist with cerebral palsy is dragged by, fully riot gear equipped, police officers from his wheelchair (his only source of mobility) and then hauled across a concrete pavement, the media feels the need to make every effort to try and marginalise the story as just another “incident” within the police movements against protesters and create the impression that he deserved it.
Jody as a journalist as well as an activist, probably would recognise the almost irony of an institution such as the BBC a supposedly “impartial” media institution and it’s very subjective and damning reporting surrounding Jody’s treatment by the police. The incident first appeared on Youtube, where a short recording of Jody being dragged by officers to the ground then across the concrete, received many viewings within a short period of time. Jody was then subsequently asked to appear on TV for interviews, Ben Brown conducted an interview and started by explaining that certain images of a disabled activist being dragged from his wheelchair, as it slides to a clip of the show he then goes on to say “these pictures ‘appear’ to show Jody McIntyre’ being pulled out of his wheelchair and dragged across the road”. The emphasis of Ben’s comment on the word “appear” as though it was some kind of illusion. The report continues with Ben attempting to character assassinate Jody for his political principles, for comments made he made in the Observer and totally dismissing the fact that Jody was exercising his right to peaceful protest and seemingly believing that Jody offered a potential to the health and safety of the officers with riot shields and batons. As Jody had to point out, he was actually reliant on his brother pushing him and therefore posed no actual threat to the police and had no intention of “rolling” towards them. Yet still the police felt the need to rush him, pull him out of his wheelchair and drag him across the concrete. Throughout the interview Ben attempts to belittle any suggestions that the police were at fault, that there may have been any attempt to incite violence from other protestors and often returns to Jody’s political views to try and incriminate him and justify the violence against him.
The media’s attempt to justify the assault on him was bad enough from the BBC, but (unsurprisingly) the Daily Mail took it another step further when the vile Richard Littlejohn decided to firstly take a swipe at Jody as he should have been “at a safe distance” and his brother put him on the “frontline”, but also then decided to liken him to Andy from Little Britain, making a deliberate attempt to undermine and belittle Jody’s condition and turn him into a comic sketch rather than take the situation seriously. While the media owned by Rupert Murdoch and the other reactionary right papers including the Express and Mail generally demonise left wing activists. The BBC however usually attempt to attain impartiality, while this usually means that they try and whitewash the Israeli genocides as a “conflict”, among other such misrepresentations, Brown’s galling interview with McIntyre, highlights the right-wing slide of the BBC along with that of the new right wing coalition.
While Jody would also be one of the first to tell you that he is not the worst victim of police brutality, Alfie Meadows from the same demonstrations suffered terribly and previous victims of police brutality including Ian Tomlinson and Blair Peach and countless other victims who died or were severely mauled by the “Law”, he is however a poignant example of how the Police and media continue to treat those who struggle against the oppressive capitalist system.Tags: Domestic (UK)
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This post was written by Ben Maisky