During the student demonstrations against the UK's tuition fees hike in London last week news that a disabled participant had been dragged from his wheelchair by the London Metropolitan Police spread across Twitter like wild fire. However, I was initially sceptical that this had actually happened as in such cases rumours, both real and unsubstantiated can be retweeted by many who do not check upon their validity. Even the photograph that was cited as evidence of the attack was less than conclusive as it was open to a number of interpretations. However, in the age of cheap video technology and Youtube it was perhaps inevitable that footage of the incident would come to light.
As it turned the victim of the assault, Jody McIntyre, is an activist and journalist who has previously been interviewed by the Guardian and so there was a face and a history to go with the images of burly police officers wrestling McIntyre who has cerebal palsy to the ground during the protests. As disgraceful as their conduct was it did not the BBC's Ben Brown from accusing McIntyre of possibly provoking it by attacking the officer using his wheelchair? (no, I'm not making this up)
In what was an appalling piece of gutter journalism a disabled person who'd been assualted not once but twice by the police was called upon to defend himself from accusations by a presenter who has obviously confused his role as a journalist with that of London metropolitan Police's defence lawyer. It is a disgraceful piece of biased reporting that was handled skillfully by McIntyre who calmly and rationally argued the obvious that a person in a wheelchair who needs assistance to move around does not constitute a threat to hundreds of police officers dressed in riot gear.
The BBC interview is here.
Jody McIntyre's blog is here and you can follow him on Twitter here.