44 – Controlled Flow of Tweets and Imagery – Defining Start of Police Intervention

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I had almost totally lost control and was screaming. I was shaking and very upset. Quite a crowd gathered and people filmed on their mobile phones. The men made no attempt to run from the scene.

Chilling images capture moment one of Lee Rigby’s ‘killers calmly walked into Argos to buy a set of knives and sharpening kit – the day before soldier was hacked to death’[1]; Chris Greenwood et al; 02 December 2013.

Above is the testimony of Gill Hucks, and it’s not unlike some of the other testimony that was given by witnesses at trial. Overall, the impression that was created was of a street full of budding Stanley Kubricks – and especially at the bottom of Artillery Place, probably because something at least one person said about people piling off the bus. The truth of the matter seems as if it could be quite different. During the phases up to and including the police shootout, the number of people that can be seen in the footage filming are quite few and far between. In terms of this so called independent footage that is available to the public, only the Mirror Footage features the police shootout – and that is heavily edited so we don’t understand properly what happened.

It wasn’t until the paramedics turn up en masse that the general lack of interest suddenly disappeared and lots of cameras came out in the bottom crowd (see Fig. 219). This phenomenon was reflected online by the lack of material in terms of images taken on the scene that were sent to Twitter. Most of these appeared only after the incident was over and this final sweeping up phase began. Only one image that famously came off Twitter to feature in corporate-news media was photographed of the incident before the armed police arrived – this was the one with Adebowale talking to Kennett (see Fig. 20), and this wasn’t posted until much later. Amazingly, the only image out of the bottom crowd to appear on Twitter near the incident was the one posted by @TheOriginalMB (see Fig. 22). At 3.32pm the Sun Picture Desk[2] asked him if they could use it (see Fig. 231) – notice that that’s nearly an hour after the police had intervened by the official time.

What can we say about this sorry collection of material from personal cameras in an age where most phones can take pictures and then send them to the internet – and most people have them? Firstly, we have to say that it must have been heavily controlled during what must have been very sensitive phases of the incident – all of them except the mopping up at the end. This begs the question, if the people at the bottom of Artillery Place were meant to be a wild card crowd, how were they controlled so that they didn’t have their cameras out all the time. There is a natural explanation: they didn’t think much was going on worth filming – or they weren’t there for much of the incident – and in fact the reality is probably a combination of the two.

Fig.  231 – the request from the Sun to OriginalMB.
Fig. 231 – the request from the Sun to OriginalMB.

Although it has been mooted that he crowds at the top and the bottom were different in character, there was a similar thing going on at the top. The Twitter user @boatri-tran posted one of the iconic photos that would appear on corporate-media internet pages (see Fig. 24). As a glance at the image will show, this was taken from the corner at the barracks looking down the hill. Remarkably, there were only two other photos taken from this perspective that arrived into corporate-media through Twitter (I am tempted to say, therefore, that only 4 images were tweeted out that contained the arrest stage). First thing of note is that it appeared at 3.09pm. Secondly, @baotri-tran posted later that he received a visit from police in the days after the event (as copied by felixfelix[3]):

bao-tri tran ‏@baotri_tran
ahh, the police woke me up mannnn and i have to go see them
12:13 AM – 23 May 13

This makes the fellow seem like an organic witness – there must have undoubtedly been elements up in the top too. But again, why no images until so late – and especially from this crowd; it was on site in numbers early on?

There were other Twitter records – this time text based ones: problematic if we want to verify that the witness was actually on scene and seeing what he was claiming to have seen. Case in point is the twitterer @Boyadee. He received a lot of attention, and a job at the Guardian, apparently, after the disseminated information from 3:09 onwards – but there is a lot of doubt as to his location. His first tweet was:

Ohhhhh myyyy God!!! I just see a man with his head chopped off right in front of my eyes!”

The problem with Boyadee should not be very hard to fathom. He went on to talk about the female officer, D49, shooting the perpetrators dead like Robocop. And it must be pointed out, there was more than one person on Twitter who seemed to know of Boyadee almost immediately expressed scepticism about his electronic ejaculations (e.g “Boya dee is a naughty liar”[4] – now deleted).

Fig.  232 – the inference is that @Boyadee didn’t see anything.
Fig. 232 – the inference is that @Boyadee didn’t see anything.

Someone we can perhaps treat as a bit more reliable is twitter user, @M_ATLEY, otherwise known as Michael Atley; he actually seemed to be at the incident – unlike Boyadee, who many believe was not actually present.

At 3:01pm Atley sent this tweet[5]:

“Going off in Woolwich!!!!” #woolwich #shotdead

Michael Atley was also interviewed by journalists and his account appeared in the Telegraph:

Mr Atley said that he was driving down Mulgrave Road in Woolwich with a colleague at just before 3pm when they heard gunfire and ran up the road to investigate.

They saw armed police at the scene and spoke to an elderly gentleman who had witnessed the incident, and said that he had seen a man being run over by a car, before two men got out of the vehicle and attacked him.

“As soon as the gunfire had gone off, that’s obviously an unmistakeable sound and then obviously people starting pouring out their houses and it got busy very quickly,” he told The Telegraph.

He added: “It was pretty gruesome, it was surreal, it was like something from a film, people were just shocked, absolutely shocked.”

Woolwich ‘machete attack’ like ‘something out of a film,’ says eyewitness[6]; Staff Writer; 22 May 2013.

Fig.  233 – this is fairly clear: going off in Woolwich at 3pm.
Fig. 233 – this is fairly clear: going off in Woolwich at 3pm.

Here we have a testimony that tells of gunfire something close to 3pm; of course, the official story has the intervention happening at 2:34pm, and there is CCTV footage to back this up. Atley must be wrong, but of course this little flaw in detail is not questioned, and Atley’s testimony was added to the weight of first impressions that gave the incident its impact.

However, the twitter evidence suggests that the police intervention didn’t actually happen until the time Atley experienced; it starts very close to, or on 3pm. None of the images get tweeted after 3pm – not because there was a control on the broadcasting of them, but because up until then, there was nothing worthy of photographing and sending. Remember, Boyadee’s account starts after 3pm – he claims to have just been watching Rigby being decapitated. It’s almost as though Boyadee suddenly got the go-ahead to report the chain of events from the beginning after 3pm – he was present at the scene of the crime, and he was organic, then why did he not first tweet about the attack at 2.30pm?

Although the author has not been able to find the home-time for Mulgrave School at the time of the incident, it a very good chance that was the same as many other schools up and down the land. Lots of schools send children home between 3 and 4-o-clock; in fact, to be a bit more precise, for a primary school it’s not very long after 3pm.

An eye-witness account by Graham Wilders’ wife Julia actually relates here sense of how close the incident was to school turning-out time:

 My nine year old son Steven goes to the school and all I could think about was that it was home time and he would be walking down here soon.

I saw a load of kids come out of school gates and I just yelled at them to get back.

I ran up to the school shouting ‘there’s a gunman’ and to get everybody inside.

The headmaster came out and they closed the school gates and kept everyone in. That was when I heard four shots.

We are going to see how Wilders does seem to call to his wife as she is at the school and he is further up the road after he heard gun shots. This is after Wilders had seen the school children returning from their trip. Julia Wilders could well be reporting the moment when the head teacher did a reconnaissance to discover the nature of reports he had had (as we will see). It could be the case that this happened as a result of Julia Wilders’ actions. At this time, too, the police aren’t controlling very well internal movement in between Artillery Place and their block down in Rectory Place – so we can see that the Wilders’ and Dr Dixon of the school could move up and down the road to a certain extent without crossing police lines. In short, the information gels together. The only strange thing about Julia Wilders’ report is how children are supposed to be coming out of school – could she be mistaking the party of schoolchildren returning for one that she thinks is leaving? She didn’t necessarily have to see it for the first time at the same time Graham Wilders did – in fact, Wilders had been on his own after investigating the incident.

More circumstantial evidence comes in the form of a moment in the ITN-Kipre Footage when Dominique Kipre protests to arriving standard police. He claims that armed police took 30 minutes to respond to the incident. For Kipre, could it be the amount of time it took for police to arrive after his bus arrived? From 2.30pm to 3pm (roughly) was this half hour Kipre is talking about. How does he make any sense otherwise? Clearly, in the official timing, the difference between 2.20pm and 2.34pm is 14 minutes – if people say 20 minutes, then that’s near enough. There is no way a half an hour can be imagined out of that.

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[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2516910/Chilling-images-capture-moment-Lee-Rigbys-killers-calmly-walked-Argos-buy-set-knives-sharpening-kit–day-soldier-hacked-death.html

[2] https://twitter.com/SunPictureDesk/status/337214304854097920

[3] http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1061591644

[4] http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?t=245977&page=131

[5] https://twitter.com/M_ATLEY/status/337206595681402882

[6] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10074385/Woolwich-machete-attack-like-something-out-of-a-film-says-eyewitness.html