Just after the second attempted attack on London in July 2005 a young Brazilian Electrician, Jean Charles de Menezes, was shot dead by the police.
I fully accept the argument of context, and that mistakes do happen. If the Met had admitted it was a tragic error, then all the opprobrium heaped on the Service now could have been largely avoided.
What we should NOT accept is wilful dissembling from the top of the Met.
The relied on a notion that events surrounding 7/7 would inure the public to police heavy handedness.
But the British Public have a healthy scepticism of authority, and will not simply accept unpleasant happenings in an unquestioning way, and by underestimating the mood Sir Ian Blair dug himself further and further into trouble.
They said at the time;
1) Jean Charles de Menezes came out of a house under observation by special branch.
2) He was challenged by a police officer who shouted; "Armed Police!"
3) He vaulted the barriers and ran along the platform into a tube train.
4) He was wearing a massive coat on a hot July day, which could have concealed a bomb.
5) Police used minimum lethal force.
6) He was an illegal immigrant.
Facts as reported by the PCA in the Guardian on August 7th 2005.
1) The cop observing the house went to relieve himself and assumed the guy had come out of the house in question due to his dark appearance. Do the math if this is the criterion for a terrorist.
2) No witnesses heard the police issue a challenge. There were 40 people at the scene so unless it was an outing with the Deaf Institute, the police are lying.
3) The guy was in possession of a pass and had stopped to buy a paper. Again no witness evidence regarding barrier jumping. CCTV evidence shows him running for and entering a train which he heard coming AFTER passing the barrier in the normal way.
4) He was wearing a denim jacket. Not a coat as stated.
5) He was shot seven times, five in the head, at point blank range.
6) His visa had expired. He DID NOT enter the country illegally, despite what the Daily Mail so desperately wanted.
After the event the police were quick to shout about "What if…." and anyone who dared to question the boys in blue was automatically an agent of Bin Laden.
As a result everyone nodded sagely and said how terrible it was that we are living in times where the police have no choice but pursue such a regrettable line.
The fact is the Police, via Ian Blair who appeared on Question Time that week and repeated the above, lied and lied and lied, because they messed up big style.
Having said that, I am 100% in agreement with Michael who points out in his blog the breathtaking hypocrisy of Ken Livingstone.
Whilst the IRA butchered innocent working people in the ‘Eighties, Ken welcomed the chillingly evil duo of Adams and McGuinnes to come to London as his guests, first when he was leader of the GLC and again when he was elected as a Labour MP.
But when it affects the people who vote for him, Ken goes all Schwartenegger on us.
But let’s face it, it’s not as though the Met in particular, don’t have "issues" with telling the truth or prejudice.
McPhearson springs to mind.” Institutionalised racism" and a "culture of cover up" were m’ lud’s findings after the Lawrence murder.
Numerous fit ups of the Irish in the 70’s and 80’s and then a refusal to accept the bleedin obvious even when given the evidence by an IRA cell. Can’t have the public lose confidence Ma’am.
Whilst on the subject of the police….
1993 May, South East London. Mike Fisher, 14,000 others and I are on a march to protest against BNP activity that resulted in the murder of Stephen Lawrence. 100 or so (un policed) skinheads start giving it the old Nazi salute and monkey noises. Police do nothing. Something is thrown from our side, cue bedlam.
I’m not joking. The police went mental. I saw a lot of people get coshed and suffer injuries. We dived behind a wall and just waited for things to calm down. Half a pack of fags later we ran the gauntlet of a "secure" line i.e. one that stopped a protest but allowed race hate merchants to get drunk outside a pub a give us the large one, and got back on a bus into Central London.
I arrived at a pub in Farnham. News comes on the box. "Protesters bring shame on Lawrence family" etc…etc..Lots of agitated young black men were shown.
Bloke in pub says;” Hitler had the right idea if he’d have stayed in his own country”.
I said, "Pardon mate?"…"Say that again".
Pub goes quiet.” Go on say it again big man".
Silence. I’m on a roll now..
"Go on fucking say it! Barman, are you going to bar this guy?"
Silence. We go to leave guy says to Catherine "What are you looking at, bitch?"
"An ugly, pathetic inadequate". Brilliant.Exit stage left.
A month later I’m playing pool with John Hempsall.
This guy comes in and is watching us.
I look at him a bit. Greasy hair, bad teeth, dressed by his mother. A real example of Aryan Supremacy.
Forget about him and sometime later go for a jimmy. Next thing, shove in the back.
He goes for a kick and I knee him in the bollocks and then the face. Claret all over the place. We leave.
Now before you think I’m some kind of hero fighting the evil Far Right. Think again. This guy was a pathetic nonentity who wouldn’t even repeat his initial comment. I could have seriously damaged him. And at the end of the day, it’s inadequate types who think this way. He’s victim, not a player.
I spent the next few days bricking it that a) I’d done the guy serious damage b) there would be a knock on the door from the boys in blue and my career would be down the pan before it had really begun.
I needn’t have worried as pond life came into the pub about a week later, saw me, and left and I never set eyes on him again in the remaining six years I lived in the town.
Leaving Boothferry Park about six years ago. Two lads messing about crossing the road. Copper on horseback belts one across the back of the head. Passer by challenges cop. Cue mouthful.” Get your Inspector”. Chief Plod arrives. Cop lies. Bloke threatened with arrest.
Then outside County Ground Swindon.
Guy in front (about 25)."Can I get through to my car please?"
“Please it’s just over there”.
” Are you fucking deaf?"
Someone pushes and the guy bangs into the cop. His reaction? HE SPITS IN HIS FACE. Cue bedlam and time to leave.
And then there’s Hillsborough, the Miners Strike, Forest Gate, Operation Pre Empt etc, etc…….