Judge, Jury and Executioner

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Why are the U.S. and U.K. fighting a war in Iraq? Some would say it is to spread freedom and democracy, while others may say it's to fight terrorism. If this is so, then what happened in England last week?

Undercover anti-terror police were conducting surveillence of a block of flats located in Scotia Road, Tulse Hill, South London when, at 9:30am, Jean Charles De Menezes, 27, of Brazil stepped out of one of the buildings. Police were immediately concerned with the "suspect" due to his clothing: a bulky winter coat. Mr. De Menezes then proceded to walk to the Tulse Hill station (300 yards away) where he boarded a bus to Stockwell (a 15-min ride). At 10:00am, Mr. De Menezes walked off the bus and crossed the street heading to the Tube entrance.

It is here that the undercover force drew weapons and ordered Mr. De Menezes to stop. To this, the "suspect" ignored the orders of the police and ran into the Tube station, leaping over a ticket barrier. Mr. De Menezes then jumped onto the Northern Line train falling onto the floor. This is when the police decided to empty 5 shots into his head, killing him.

First reports were that the suspect who was shot was an Asian man suspected to have a bomb strapped to his waist. Of course it came out later that Mr. De Menezes was innocent; he did not have a bomb and his only "crime" was not obeying undercover police. Although Blair and police officials publicly apologized, the polioce methods used were never critiqued. Blair had this to say about the actions of the police: "The only way to deal with this is to shoot to the head. There is no point in shooting at someone's chest because that is where the bomb is likely to be."

Former Commissioner of the Met, Lord Stevens, confirmed the "shoot-to-kill-to-protect" policy. In an article written by Lord Stevens posted in the News of the World titled: "Shooting to kill saves lives..one tragedy will not change that", the former commissioner states: "But we are living in unique times of unique evil, at war with an enemy of unspeakable brutality, and I have no doubt that now, more than ever, the priniciple is right despite the chance, tragically, of error. And it would be a huge mistake for anyone to even consider rescinding it."

The most troubling part of all this is (as usual) the lack of respect for human life the U.K. government and police have shown. England, a supposed model of freedom and democracy, has now enacted a shoot first approach to policing. So here we are, pitching our version of society and freedom/democracy on the people of the middle east, when clearly the United Kingdom and the United States have the "freedom wagon" in reverse. What kind of society can justify murdering innocent people in the name of safety?

Let us not forget that certain past groups were set up for the "security" of the people (Hitler's SS, Soviet KGB) too.


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