Barnet Council Watch strongly supports freedom of speech and the right to protest. We also support the right of Brian Coleman to make an idiot of himself with his increasingly tiresome comments.
Following the incident at the G20 protests, when Nicola Fisher was slapped across the face by a police officer and then battoned to the ground, Cllr Coleman issued the following statement: “Nicky Fisher turned up to this protest, which everyone said could be violent. She put herself in this situation and lo, she was hit. It’s like going gambling and then complaining that you’ve lost money.”
Barnet Council Watch wonders how many people attend demonstrations expecting to be hit in the face by a policeman?
Nobody disputes that the Police have a very difficult job to do. Most people agree that the overwhelming majority of officers diligently perform their duties to a high professional standard. But it is important to remember that no officer joins the force expecting it to be a quiet 9-5 desk job with an expense account and taxi on call. It is a tough job and officers will frequently be required to act under pressure. At a demonstration, it is to be expected that tempers will run high. Most officers act with restraint.
That an officer acted disproportionately should not be grounds for condemning the entire police force. But, as the saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the entire barrel and it is right that he has been suspended pending an investigation.
Speaking to the BBC, Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “Have we changed the culture of policing protests in Britain so that officers now believe that their job is to crush dissent rather than manage it?”
You can see the extent of Nicola Fisher’s injuries on the Daily Express website.
Brian Coleman, referring to the protestor, said: “All right-thinking people will have little sympathy for her.” Once again, Mr Coleman is completely out of step with public opinion.
On the Conservative Home blog, the following comment was posted by Mr Nigel Fletcher: “Someone please lock Brian in his office before he finds his way to a microphone or camera. You know it makes sense.”
Mr Fletcher used to work for Coleman and is probably better qualified than most to comment.