‘I can’t breathe’. Footage of excessive police violence during environmental protest arrest

Police kneel on protester's neck during arrest
Support us and go ad-free

Trigger warning: this article contains footage of police violence that some readers may find distressing.

Footage captured by The Canary shows the excessive force used by City of London Police during a demonstration by the Green Anti-Capitalist Front (GAF) at the Stock Exchange on 28 February.

A person is seen being restrained face-down on the floor, shouting that they can’t breathe as a police officer kneels on their neck. And instead of listening to their cries, the police respond by restraining them further:

The protest

The protest was called under the banner of “Rally Against Capital – Fuck the Banks, Fuck the City!”. The call to action stated:

The future of the planet is under attack. We are living through the willful destruction of Earth’s ecosystems and the billions of people who depend on them to survive. We know what is causing this destruction – the capitalist system we live in and the people who get disgustingly rich while knowing that they are only able to do so by destroying the future for everybody. Currently they ignore the plight of the global south while stealing resources to pad their pockets all the same; it’s about time we said no more. No more exploitation. No more capitalism. No more climate change!

It continued:

Join us on the 28th of February at 2pm at in the City of London to tell the bankers, the rich, the powerful that we won’t let them take our planet – the people will not go down without a fight and we’re taking the fight to them to show them what we can do when we organise ourselves.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

A spokesperson for GAF London told The Canary:

At the Rally Against Capital, the Green Anti-capitalist Front wanted to show that it’s not regular working people but the rich, the bankers and those who protect them who are causing climate change. We led our demonstration to the stock exchange to attempt to disrupt some of the capitalist system.

Police violence

The protest effectively locked down the stock exchange:

But as soon as protesters arrived at the stock exchange, the police reacted violently:

Speaking to The Canary about the arrest footage, Kevin Blowe, coordinator of the Network for Police Monitoring, stated:

The police’s own guidance warns that pressure applied to the back of the neck of a person held in the prone position, particularly if they are small or slight, is one of the principal risk factors that can contribute to death during restraint. Its use here raises questions whether this use of force was either proportionate or lawful.

Commenting on the level of police violence, GAF London told The Canary:

As per usual, this demonstration showed how aggressively the police will attempt to protect the rich and their property against the people, using fists, batons and chokeholds to stop us gaining entry to the building. We hope this action will inspire others to take action against capitalism and show that the people will not let the planet go down without a fight.

The Canary asked City of London Police to comment on the footage. A spokesperson said:

Four arrests were made following a protest yesterday, where individuals wearing balaclavas and using flares, were attempting to enter the stock exchange.

Violence continues

Violence against the protesters continued throughout the day. At one point, an older man in a suit pulling a suitcase walked past the police line. He was pushed repeatedly despite being totally unconnected to the protest.

The following footage was taken during the second arrest. As can be seen at the end of the video, some of the police officers present were even happy to shout at and manhandle their fellow officers:

Throughout the day, The Canary witnessed excessively violent and disproportionate policing by officers who, at times, appeared completely out of control. Everyone needs to stand up and let the police know this level of violence is not acceptable.

Featured image and videos via Emily Apple

Support us and go ad-free

Get involved

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us