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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

UK race relations improve no end…

Christ. The guy they shot didn’t have anything to do with the bombings.

(via)

Note to anyone who looks remotely dark-skinned, has black hair etc. – if police are present, DO NOT RUN.

Wasn’t it Not the 9 O’Clock News with the “Driving in posession of brown skin and tight black curly hair” sketch?

It was understandable in the circumstances, but they’ve still got some serious explaining to do – and nothing they say is going to get London’s asian population feeling comfortable. A Sikh mate of mine was saying only yesterday that he’s shitting himself every time he’s on the tube – not because of bombs, but because of other passengers’ reactions towards him, an asian guy with a rucksack. When he’s got to be afraid of a trigger-happy policeman getting over-excited as well, it’s hardly going to be a great situation…

Now imagine he was Muslim instead of Sikh, who’s he going to be tempted to rally behind? The most vocal opposition. And we all know who they normally are.

Christ… Pretty much worst case scenario. Although at least they didn’t kill any bystanders as well, I suppose.

Update: The man is thought to have been South American.

In other words – to indulge in speculation – olive skinned, dark haired, from a hot country so likely to have been feeling the cold (yesterday was chillier than it has been in London), and possibly not only not an English speaker, so unable to understand police instructions, but also from a region where police have a reputation for going around killing people at random.

Further update: To clarify my position, I’ll borrow Tim Worstall’s words (in the comments):

“I do not mean to imply that the police are racist. It�ll surprise a lot of people in the UK but it is one of the least racist countries I have ever been in. No, my point is that the shooting will increase the perception of racism by some communities and that this is something that further hatred and violence might (might!) feed off.”

More comment: rhetorically speaking.., A Big Stick and a Small Carrot, Londonist, Honourable Fiend, Mayor of London Blog, Indigo Jo Blogs, and in the interest of balance, Barking Moonbat Early Warning System and Liberty Blog (since when were the Met known for being “pollitically correct pussies”? News to me…)

64 Comments

  1. Herge

    Mr Bin Laden's gripe was with the presence of American soldiers in Saudi Arabia (no multiculturalist he!).

    They're not there any more, so al-Qaeda attacks should have stopped, shouldn't they?

  2. dearieme – My guess is that you're taking my concerns for how the shooting will be responded to and trying to make one of those typically disingenuous leaps of Harry's Place style non-logic to make it look as if, because I have suggested (accurately) that ethnic minority communities likely to be the focus of police attention thanks to the current situation are going to be more concerned and thus more distrusting of the police following this shooting, that means I'm patronising and racist. Is that right?

    If so, don't be so silly. And I'm afraid I have no interest in that kind of illogical nonsense and petty moral one-upmanship, so I'm likely to ignore that kind of thing – if that is what you're doing. It's rather hard to tell.

    Herge – although I see your point, and can see the merits of it, sadly that doesn't explain the September 11th attacks – and so those who disagree with you about Iraq and Afghanistan can claim their usual nonsense.

    Sadly I think we just need to all accept that the terrorist lot we're up against are mentalists – they don't need a reason to do what they do. But it might, I'd suggest, be helpful if we didn't provide them with things they can use to "justify" their actions. I mean, if someone says "we're attacking you for your imperialism" when you're not actually imperialistic, what's the best course of action? Invade and occupy two sovereign nations in a way that can easily be seen as imperialistic, or simply say "erm… we don't have an empire, idiot" and let the facts speak for themselves?

  3. "Note to anyone who looks remotely dark-skinned, has black hair etc. – if police are present, DO NOT RUN."

    They were in plain clothes. I don't know how close they got to him before he ran, or what words they said (or shouted) to him. From what I've read, there is a possibility that he didn't even know he'd been accosted by the police.

  4. NM, you seem to be suggesting ('invade two sovereign nations') that we shouldn't have gone into Afghanistan.
    I've also heard similar bilge, to be blunt, from Islamic apologists. That we shouldn't have gone near Afghanistan. What: so we should have left the Taliban in power? After 9/11? And we should have left Bin Laden in his bases? Perfecting his dirty bombs?? Fer Fuck's Sake.
    We had to go into Afghanistan. Iraq is debatable – but Afghanistan, no question.
    Maybe you just hadnt thought that remark through..
    BTW I've just walked through the West End – choppers overhead, tons of sirens: possibly a bomber cornered? One of the cop cars, siren screaming, pulled up right by me, then a plain clothes guy got out and hugged a woman on the pavement for all he was worth.
    Bizarre. Maybe he'd just missed her a lot.

  5. Bob Crow General Secretary RMT Union

    Press release 22nd July 2005

    �Their concerns will have been fuelled by the revelation that an innocent Tube driver today found himself with a police gun at his head during the incident in Stockwell station in which a suspect was shot dead.

    �No apology could ever be enough ever take away the trauma that that driver has suffered and there should be a full inquiry into the handling of the incident,�

    Naturally press / media reports have been confused and confusing. "Official" statements have been minimal.

    I saw the story that the train driver escaped from the train and ran into the tunnel and was there held up against the wall, by a highly trained plain clothes "policeman" who drawing on his extensive training, took a split millisecond decision not to pump him full of lead.

    I think this driver , has like other eye witnesses, a tale to tell. Who gave the orders to delay the train ? Why ? Who gave orders to shut / open doors. Why ? Why did the driver leg it ?

    Afterthouhgt – Those CCTV pics are TOO good, they look well photoshopped – single isolated. 2 days and looked at by zillions and apparently no response leading to arrest (The guys they have were said on BBC TV 7.00pm news to not be the bombers but "may have information".

    Perhaps these peeps just don't exist ? Made up.

    You drop stupid bombs, leg it, because it is mid – day little chance of capture ? Sounds carzy but ther IS an explanation somewhere why these 4 peeps did this together.

  6. Strasbourg cathedral was going to be bombed by Al Quaeda on xmas 2000.

    Don't fall for the Left wind/Al quaeda alliance line.

  7. Sean – no. That's not what I said (although I was fully aware that was how it would be interpreted, so probably should have made myself clearer). All I was saying is that neither Afghanistan nor Iraq were good PR moves.

    PostmansKnock – I think that's probably a conspiracy theory too far…

    For the record, I find all this terrorism blogging mind-numbingly tedious. And terrorism itself, for that matter. Next time I'm tempted to just ignore it and carry on looking at the boring workings of the EU.

  8. Fair enough: you shoulda made yourself clearer on Afghanistan.

    I find your remark on mind-numbingly tedious terrorist blogging a little… peculiar. Nay risible and hysterical. Nay bizarre and mind-blowing. Nay… etc etc

    Your last seven or so blogposts have been on terrorism. You're getting fifty comments per post. You're becoming a star in the terrorist-blogging blogosphere. Why stop now? Every war has profiteers – you can be the one for this war!

    Only joshing. But if you go back to the EU be prepared for anonymity and widespread indifference again.

    I myself like to intersperse my terrorist blogs with appalling or repellent confessionals about sex and drugs. Keeps me on my toes.

  9. Sean is correct, of course…sex, drugs and violence sell. You don't see Fox and Sky leading with stories about fuzzy wittle bunny wabbits or detailed studies of the inner workings of the EU. If it bleeds, it leads, etc etc.

    I know a lot of people have tuned in to Europhobia in recent weeks because of your liveblogging of 7/7 and the post-7/7 'incidents'. What's kept many of us reading beyond the liveblogging, though, is the fact that you have something interesting to say about what's going on in the world, and you actually articulate yourself instead of just sloganizing. You've actually managed to get me to re-think a few things that I was rather sure about (for example, the wisdom of some anti-terror laws, etc). That's probably one of the higher forms of praise a blogger can get, isn't it?

    Perhaps go for the variety pack. Give us some terrorism-related red meat to gnaw on, and then broadside us with a 50000 word piece about the dangers of letting Andorra join the EU. All BS aside, I think a number of your readers would probably be interested to hear what you have to say about other issues.

    And now I'm off to read about what Sean did on his last drug-crazed romp through London…*shiver*

  10. Dan and other fools,

    It was not a "split second decision": he was followed for 3 miles and even allowed to board a bus.
    It was not a "hot day": it was cold for a summer's day.
    He was not "Asian", he was Brazilian.
    They did have "reason to beleive he may be a suicide bomber" but – call me idealistic – I think they need reason to beleive someone IS a bomber not that they may be, before shooting them. Are you saying it's o.k to shoot anyone who lives in the same block as a terrorist?

    The worse case scenario is actually the one in which he sets off a bomb in the bus, the officers who had him under surveillance slink off home and we never find out they were ever in a position to prevent it!

    The Met's statement just after shows they were perfectly aware that they were dealing with a block of flats and so knew that this may not have been a bomber.

    Are you seriously saying the best way to find suicide bombers is by approaching random people, pointing guns at them and seeing if they run?!

    If people can't find it in them to have solidarity with this innocent worker then they have sunk lower than I thought possible in this country.

  11. Anonymous:
    All of the comments you refer to were posted on the day of the actual event, before all of the details we know now had emerged. I'm not sure that makes people 'fools'…just about everyone was guilty of rushing to one judgment or another on that day. People were just trying to sort out the facts. Over time, they come out and even the tabloids drop headlines like "Bomber Shot on Tube" and return to more pressing issues ("Aliens stole my Elvis-look-alike Baby", etc.).

    As far as the police making a 'split second decision'…well, yes, eventually it did come to that. Yes, they followed the victim for quite a distance, and allowed him to board a bus (why???), but when he was confronted by police at Stockwell station, his actions understandably led them to think there was a danger.

    It's tragic and horrifying, but the events at the station are at least understandable. The real problem lies in the events leading up to his arrival at the Stockwell station…and when the comments you refer to were posted, none of these facts were available yet.

    Of course no one still thinks he was "Asian", etc…and of course no one thinks it's a good idea for heavily armed police to roam the streets popping off runners. I can't recall any person (here or elsewhere) advocating that, unless of course it was in a post laden with sarcasm.

  12. I entirely agree that the officer who pulled the trigger is probably not culpable for this unlawful killing. I do not accept that the shooting was entirely "understandable": surely armed officers of all people must be trained to be more rigorous in establishing the basis for suspecting someone.

    When they originally challenged him was that to find out if he was a bomber or because they were already certain he was. If the former then the decision to shoot was not understandable but very poor indeed. If the latter then it is not true to say that a split decision was made at the station: the poor guy was dead the minute he left the house.

    Dan clearly felt that wearing a bulky jacket on a hot day and being Asian would justify the behaviour of police. No new information has emmerged regarding the temperature on that day. The suggestion that the police were justified in assuming that his clothing was good evidence of his murderous intentions was just as false a few days ago as it is now.

    Had Mr. de Menezes been Asian his murder would not have been justified – as Dan originally implied – but it would have made the "split second" failure more understandable. I do accept, though, that the media claimed him to be Asian in their initial reports.

  13. I think we'll need to hear more details about exactly what transpired on that day before we can pass judgment with any certainty.

    As far as Mr de Menezes' physical appearance–again, I think we'll need more information before we can truly understand this. What did the police who tailed the victim know about the appearance of the suspects? It's possible that he matched (to some degree, at least) the description of one of the suspects. If the police were working with inaccurate or incomplete profiles of the suspects, the likelihood of a false positive increases. What if his coat exactly matched that of a suspect's profile? What if his hairstyle or some other feature was a match? They might have been looking for something other than just skin tone and "Asian" features (whatever that means).

    As you mention, this is where police training is critical. One of the easiest mistakes to make when you're assigned to conduct surveillance is to go into it with a set of preconceived notions. You *must* be able to think out of the box and expect the unexpected. The details you have almost *never* match reality in every way. You must adapt, or risk making critical mistakes like the false positive identification that led to the victim's death. This is a fundamental skill for anyone in law enforcement, counterterrorism, or counterintelligence, but it's also a difficult skill to master. It's certainly no excuse for what happened, but that's what I mean by saying the events are at least somewhat "understandable".

    When Mr de Menezes jumped the gate and ran into the station, this would surely cause any Londoner (even trained police) to assume the worst, given the events of recent weeks. At this point I think any remaining uncertainty about his identity would be thrown out the window. Had he legged it down the street out in front of the station, instead of running *into* it and onto a train, perhaps their reaction would have been different.

    The fact that he was able to board a bus still baffles me, however. I can't think of any good reason why he wouldn't be confronted before he ever approached the bus, assuming the police were in position to do anything about it. In the absence of exhaustive details about the events of that sad day, we are all forced to speculate. Time will tell, not that it will do poor Mr de Menezes any good. Perhaps we can prevent this from happening again–although the inexact science of law enforcement/counterterrorism makes me think that might be wishful thinking.

  14. I take your point about his appearence and the difficulties of surveillance. That's a best case scenario I guess, if they did have some good reason to suspect him.

    Some details like the bus and the pinning down and the seven bullets remain suspicious however.

    If there was a genuine choice of one innocent man being killed or 50 innocent people being bombed, I know what I'd go for (though not if it was myself or a family member!). As well as this if some police officers who made an understandable mistake have to go down to stop this happening again, I know I'd throw away the key. "Tough times" rhetoric works both ways.

    We'll have to wait, you're right, but I think it's important we do wait for the details and not just forget. We owe Mr. de Menezes and his family that much.