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The cover-up unfolds...
August 18, 2005 3:22 AM   Subscribe

Scotland Yard commissioner Sir Ian Blair attempted to stop an independent external investigation into the shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, who was mistaken for a suicide bomber and dispatched with seven bullets to the head soon after an official "shoot-to-kill" policy was enacted. CCTV footage that was once available and would help explain this circumstances around this killing was subsequently lost by authorities upon public outcries for this independent investigation.
posted by Rothko (135 comments total)

 
Um...didn't we do this already?
posted by peacay at 3:34 AM on August 18, 2005


4 days ago in fact?
posted by peacay at 3:35 AM on August 18, 2005


Where is the Ian Blair link in the "4 days ago" link?
posted by Rothko at 3:38 AM on August 18, 2005


OK, update on open update filter. Be my guest..
posted by peacay at 3:44 AM on August 18, 2005


"lost" looks to be unsupported at the moment:

"Nick Hardwick, the chairman of the IPCC, told the Guardian he had all the footage in his possession and it was "very, very helpful" to the inquiry."

vs.

"However, police now say most of the cameras were not working."

This is shitty journalism of the highest order, leaving Hardwick's earlier assertion conflicting the latest statements in separate articles, without resolution, or even mention, of the inconsistencies
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:45 AM on August 18, 2005


The Ian Blair link is a bio nothing new there... what is new is your second link where the Guardian suggests that Ian Blair tried to stop an external investigation. That's new information (and considering the source maybe a bit dodgy) but it's not really enough to support a new thread.

Let's wait a while with a new FPP until more details come out. We don't want to jump to conclusions and shoot the Met Police 11 times in the head based on false assumptions.
posted by three blind mice at 3:45 AM on August 18, 2005


and peacay, this could be an informative discussion or more mefi poo tennis. It's up to us.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:47 AM on August 18, 2005


Getting back to star witness Mark Whitby. Every major online news service I read carried his eyewitness statements. He seemed like a level headed, articulate, normal person. He saw the whole thing unfold before his eyes:

"He [the suspect] had a baseball cap on and quite a sort of thickish coat - it was a coat you'd wear in winter, sort of like a padded jacket.

"He might have had something concealed under there, I don't know. But it looked sort of out of place with the sort of weather we've been having, the sort of hot humid weather.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4706913.stm

So how does he come out with such a detailed statement – a statement where talks about the padded jacket at some length, where he talks about how unusual it was, how it didn't fit in for that time of year, how it could have concealed something – and it be so completely wrong?

OK, I could have a guess. Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable.

But given(?) that de Menezes wasn't wearing a padded jacket, and given that eyewitnesses are going to be called, who gets to decide, "Mr Whitby, you are clearly full of shit and we won't be calling you as a witness"?

Will his account be used? How can the UK government pick and chose witnesses? This guy was a star "media eyewitness" for a number of days. I'd be interested to see what happens to him with regards to the official enquiry.

Either:

1. He is making it up and he should be charged.
2. He has completely got it wrong. But he still must be called as a witness, surely? And if he doesn't then who gets to decide his testimony is not wanted?
3. [Tin foil hat time. Not my idea but I saw it on another forum so I'll chuck it in the mix.] He is working for the police or UK government.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:10 AM on August 18, 2005



Sorry, should have mentioned I bumped 85% of that from the very bottom of the previous thread.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:11 AM on August 18, 2005


It's possible that Mark Whitby mistook one of the Police Officers for the victim of the shooting. It happened fast, it happened unexpectedly, and (if I recall the accounts correctly) all of the witnesses were being bundled out of the carriage at the same time that the shooting was taking place.
posted by veedubya at 4:29 AM on August 18, 2005


Who do you petition to have someone's knighthood revoked?
posted by cillit bang at 4:40 AM on August 18, 2005


Having watched this quite closely, and I am by no means a conspiracy theorist at all, I tend to think Mark Whitby was a copper.
posted by catchmurray at 4:43 AM on August 18, 2005


A Police Officer poses as a member of the public, to give a knowingly false version of events, whilst his colleagues are busy taking photos that will unquestionably disprove that false version of events? No way.
posted by veedubya at 4:48 AM on August 18, 2005


Who do you petition to have someone's knighthood revoked?

Her Majesty
Buck House
London, England
SW1A 1AA
posted by eriko at 4:53 AM on August 18, 2005


Of course, I do think it needs to be pointed out that, apparently, Menezes was already overpowered by an officer when it was shot. Shot, mind you, seven times, in the head, with a bonus bullet to the shoulder.
The documents reveal that a member of the surveillance team, who sat nearby, grabbed Mr de Menezes before he was shot: "I heard shouting which included the word 'police' and turned to face the male in the denim jacket.

"He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the CO19 [firearms squad] officers ... I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side. I then pushed him back on to the seat where he had been previously sitting ... I then heard a gun shot very close to my left ear and was dragged away on to the floor of the carriage."
If this hold true, then the police actions here are unforgivable. The officers firing need to be charged with, at best, manslaughter. Blain needs to be charged with conspiracy to pervert justice.

And I still have real trouble with the idea that many of these CCD cameras suddenly weren't working. Note, I don't have a problem with a group of them not recording -- many cameras record 4-up onto videotape, so one recorder failure drops four of them. Many systems, however, use double recorders, and interleave them (so if there are two cameras on the platform, each is recorded on a different deck.) Furthermore, after the July 7th bombings, you can bet that making sure the CCTV was working everywhere in the system was a priority.

If this is the way the police will operate in the UK for now on, I'd rather have the bombers. The fact that it happened at all is incredibly shameful, and the attempts to hide the fact that they murdered a innocent man is even more so. I do not know who guard the guardians in the UK -- but I suspect the answer is becoming "Nobody" and "Sir, I'll have to ask you to come with me."

Or, of course, "wham wham wham wham. You now have the right to remain silent...."
posted by eriko at 5:09 AM on August 18, 2005


video take (channel 4 news, UK).

The thing which surprised me most was that one policeman immobilised the suspect against a seat and then the others shot him. Close to the restraining officer's head. Eight times. They fired eleven bullets, but three missed their target completely. How fortunate is that officer if at least one of his colleagues was just shooting for the purposes of camaraderie or sounds effects?

I realise that you don't want to take the chance of a suicide bomber being all exploserous, but 11 shots at point blank range into a suspect who is behaving in a normal manner, wearing standard-issue civvies and who has not been intercepted or challenged during the previous half an hour of his journey seems utterly disproportionate.
Could de Menezes have done anything different to have saved himself? It seems as though his fate was completely sealed when he walked out of a block of flats under surveillance looking like a brown man.
posted by NinjaPirate at 5:14 AM on August 18, 2005


[this is bad]
posted by grouse at 5:44 AM on August 18, 2005


The situation is tragic, and I'm pissed a group of police mistakenly shot one "brown man" while trying to protect the innocent public, but I'm equally, if not more pissed that another much larger group of "brown men" (Muslim suicide bombers) actually, deliberately try to blow up the innocent public every day. Terrorists's victims don't die because of mistaken identity or miscommunications.

Police are hired to defend us, but they are not superhuman; nor are doctors, teachers and so forth. The best thing the authorities could have done was be open about their mistakes, but they weren't, and that's created a bigger tragedy.

That's no consolation Menezes family, but the roles of the bastards who sowed chaos on London that week—leading to this situation—need to be acknowledged.
posted by dhoyt at 5:53 AM on August 18, 2005


If this is the way the police will operate in the UK for now on, I'd rather have the bombers.

Odd thing to say.While I think I understand some of the outrage here, I just give the police a bit more credit for having to do a really tough task.

but 11 shots at point blank range into a suspect who is behaving in a normal manner, wearing standard-issue civvies and who has not been intercepted or challenged during the previous half an hour of his journey seems utterly disproportionate.

yeah but I would argue that's not what the situation appeared to the shooter(s) at the time.

We can argue about the apparent poor surveillance, poor policework while following DeMenezes, poor communication, poor oversight, poor coordination between teams, poor training, poor execution, poor ex-post-facto truthfulness.

Well, actually, the execution part went pretty well I guess.

At any rate, unfounded opinionating (eg castigating the police as worse than the terrorists) seems rather unproductively ankle-biting and immature, both emotionally and politically.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:54 AM on August 18, 2005


peacay and tbm: the allegation that Blair tried to block independent investigation of the shooting are new to this thread, and quite significant I would argue.
posted by biffa at 5:59 AM on August 18, 2005


Five links to the Guardian... a paper slightly to the left of Ken Livingstone and well known for using its pages to pursue a political agenda and so many of you are ready to conclude that the Met Police are trigger-happy racists.

Great. And it's Republicans who are stooges for believing everything they are told by Fox news.

The only fact is that the Brazilian is dead. Everything else is just wild speculation. I say, let's let the dust settle before we condemn the Met Police.
posted by three blind mice at 6:07 AM on August 18, 2005


I say the majority of the bullets shot were dispatched by an officer who has a record of discharging weapons unsafely and an unstable character. The cover up will have to include official complaints against this officer or appraisals that state he should not be in contact with either the public or fire-arms. The Met cannot make it look like they systematically let unsafe people have firearms. We know that the firearms officers like to stick together and all spit the dummy when one of their number is prosecuted successfully.

The police failed catastrophically at performing the 'tough task' of protecting the population in this case. They have caused further damage to the relationship between the Muslim community and themselves. Who would shop anyone for acting suspiciously if they thought there was a chance the police would shoot first and ask questions later?

Heywood Mogroot writes "that's not what the situation appeared to the shooter(s)"

Clearly the shooters had no idea of what was going on. You would have thought caution would be a good tactic in such a situation. They shot a man who was already under police control, physically restrained and subdued. They certainly are part of the problem.

It all goes to re-inforce the reputaion of the Met as ignorant, thuggish and beyond the law.
posted by asok at 6:12 AM on August 18, 2005


but the roles of the bastards who sowed chaos on London that week—leading to this situation—need to be acknowledged.

This is precisely the sort of deflection that we need to avoid if we are going to be able to maintain a critical assessment of the actions of government (necessary to an open society) in the brave new world of terrorism awarness. Too many people lose all critical sensibility when a particular action becomes linked with terrorism, as the responses to this situation have shown since the event first occured:

First it was the victim's fault for acting in a way that provoked suspicion and ultimately gunfire, but when blame was spread it was spread to the terrorists themselves. We can no longer blame the victim, but the actions of the police are still mitigated by the presence of terror, even though have lost evidence and drastically misrepresented their own actions.

The invocation of Terror appears to have become the ultimate 'get out of jail free card,' because it appears so absolutely awful in people's minds that all other actions take on a degree of moral relativism, especially if one can claim to be responding to it somehow.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 6:21 AM on August 18, 2005


It all goes to re-inforce the reputaion of the Met as ignorant, thuggish and beyond the law.

Yeah right asok.

IN 2004, ARMED RESPONSE OFFICERS FIRED NOT ONE SHOT despite responding to 13,723 incidents.

Ignorant and thuggish indeed.
posted by three blind mice at 6:22 AM on August 18, 2005


Everything else is just wild speculation

Did you watch the channel four link? There is a picture of the body, but certainly no 'Bulky Jacket' in sight, so that's at least one fact that the police initially represented... not to mention several other facts the police themselves have now conceded were intitially misrepresented. I suppose they are part of this 'left wing conspiracy' as well, yes?
posted by Dr_Johnson at 6:24 AM on August 18, 2005


represented:misrepresented
posted by Dr_Johnson at 6:26 AM on August 18, 2005


That's no consolation Menezes family, but the roles of the bastards who sowed chaos on London that week—leading to this situation—need to be acknowledged.

Oh good grief, not this again. The discussion is about a possible police coverup. What role do the terrorists have to play in a police coverup?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:26 AM on August 18, 2005


Insp Shaun Dowe of SO19 said he always carries a gun on operations but tries not to think about the possible consequences of spending the day working with a lethal weapon.

He said: “I do not think you could do the job if you were worried about firing a gun. It sits at the back of your mind, but it would affect the way you would plan your response to incidents if it concerned you. Hesitation can cost lives.

“We have been trained to make the right decision and you like to think the organisation will support you in your actions. If you fire a shot in accordance with your training and the threat you perceive at the time you should get 100 per cent backing from the Met.”


Fuel for the fire.
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:29 AM on August 18, 2005


from TBM's link
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:30 AM on August 18, 2005


I am speaking as someone who has grown up in an environment surrounded by police officers, who's family is full of police officers and I am all too aware of the stresses and difficulties that they face. I think anyone who defends this calamitous fuck up does a disservice to the police officers they claim to support.

This whole incident was a disaster whichever way you look at it. The incompetence displayed would be laughable if we weren't talking about the preventable death of a wholly innocent man. From a security standpoint I would hope the officers involved are removed from duty as they seem to be too stupid to protect the public. Ian Blair's immediate spin and subsequent lack of apology for his lies mean that his position is untenable. Once again the failure of the police service to control the incompetent officers is reflecting terribly on the rest of the service.

I suppose we'll just have another ignored report to go with Scarman, Stephens and Macpherson

We could do with getting rid of two Blairs with one stone.
posted by fullerine at 6:37 AM on August 18, 2005


tbm: just for you, coverage from the Daily Mail.
posted by biffa at 6:39 AM on August 18, 2005


Agreed, maybe they could have saved some ammo for the real one.
posted by catchmurray at 6:42 AM on August 18, 2005


three blind mice writes "the Met Police are trigger-happy racists"

Given their past behaviour, particularly in regards to shooting innocent non-threatening people it would seem that 'trigger-happy' would not be a completely inacurrate way to describe them. Racist is another term used historically to describe the Met, check it out. Following the Stephen Lawrence enquiry next to nothing has been done to shift the institutionalised racism that permeates the force.

Whether it is the miners' strikes in the eighties, or the G8 protests in 2005 the Met have repeatedly shown that they are unnessecarily violent and vicious in their treatment of the public.

I am glad that they did not discharge any firearms in 2004. That was when the Met had a different Cheif Inspector, with different views.

Reading up on it, Ian Blair promotes the idea that Police Officers should be able to use their firearms without feeling like they may be prosecuted as a result,

He said it was important firearms officers did not end up facing a murder charge "unless there are indications of gross negligence or recklessness"
.

Being knighted means joining an inauspicious list of lackeys, brown-nosers, political donators and other undesirables. This is one of the reasons why some people do not accept the 'honors' they are offered.

The Guardian is only left wing in a weak and partisan way, when it is 'left wing'. I don't know much about Ken Livingstone's specific policy concerns, but it would seem that the people of London like having him as mayor. I don't think that the Grauniad is very far from the centre, although Ken may well be.
posted by asok at 6:42 AM on August 18, 2005


Fuel for the fire.

Put this in context NinjaPirate.

In September 1999, a man was shot and killed by SO19 in another mistake. He was carrying a wooden table leg that officers mistook for a weapon.

Two police officers were charged, tried, and convicted for unlawful killing. After the verdict, over 100 officers turned in their firearms and refused to carry them.

The Metropolitan Police Federation (MPF), which represents officers, said the decision provoked "anger and disquiet" among their members.

MPF chairman Glen Smyth said: "Firearms officers have one of the most demanding and difficult jobs in policing. It is dangerous, requires a high degree of skill and can place them in situations where they have to take split-second decisions over life and death."

The suspension comes five years after the event and "with complete disregard of any legal review that may follow last week's inquest", he added. It leaves firearms officers asking whether they, too, will be "abandoned" by the Met in a similar situation, even if they acted in line with their training.


NOW, when you read the last sentence you posted...

If you fire a shot in accordance with your training and the threat you perceive at the time you should get 100 per cent backing from the Met.

It might seem like less of a conspiracy.
posted by three blind mice at 6:42 AM on August 18, 2005


It wasn't a dig at you, three blind mice, I just included it because it bolstered both sides of the argument. Hence "more fuel", not "removal of oxygen".
Honest, I'm not the bad guy here.
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:49 AM on August 18, 2005


asok, you clearly have little to no understanding of how the UK in general, and the Metropolitan Police in particular function. There are no mines in London, the G8 happened in Scotland, and it is someone of considerably higher rank than Cheif [sic] Inspector running the Met.

Please stop showing us how stupid you are.
posted by veedubya at 6:55 AM on August 18, 2005


Oh good grief, not this again. The discussion is about a possible police coverup. What role do the terrorists have to play in a police coverup?

Well, isn't that one of the aims of terrorism, to create an atmosphere of paranoia that engenders incidents like this, and a general atmosphere of distrust and fear, thus helping to destabilize the government and the populace?
posted by jonmc at 6:57 AM on August 18, 2005


veedubya:

"Bitter disputes still remain over the tactics all parties used; the use of the Metropolitan Police in local mining villages ..."

"The G8 police presence in Scotland includes 1,400 officers from the Metropolitan Police and nearly 60 from the City of London Police."
posted by Len at 7:03 AM on August 18, 2005


I think anyone who defends this calamitous fuck up does a disservice to the police officers they claim to support.


Indeed, I bet that many police officers are not too pleased about this whole thing, not just the screwup itself, but the management of it afterwards. Holding those responsible as fully accountable instead of attempting more defenses of the indefensible is the only way to avoid tarring all the police officers as screwup-and-coverup prone.

Calling a demand for accountability for a massive screwup as "anti-police" is just ridiculous.


Among those involved there was also an army unit, not just police, details were reported in the Sunday Times a few days ago and confirmed by police (who said the soldiers were nonetheless not those who pulled the trigger, but who knows, at this stage). Apparently a unit that had operated in Northern Ireland. Whether that's relevant or not...

There is that interesting detail in the leaked account to the IPCC of the officer who held de Menezes, he said he heard shots from his left and then he was pulled down, it almost sounds like he didn't even know another officer/unit had the order to shoot.
posted by funambulist at 7:03 AM on August 18, 2005


Thank for your correction on the title of the person running the Met. I had startyed typing Commissioner, but it looked a bit Fat Controller, so I chnged it without regress to the facts.
As regards the other corrections you have provided, I am afraid it is you who is showing a lack of knowledge that could damage the quality of discourse in this thread. The Met did operate against the miners all over the country and at Gleneagles, in both instances their behaviour was critisised as unnesessarily brutal and borderline fascist.
posted by asok at 7:04 AM on August 18, 2005


Given their past behaviour, particularly in regards to shooting innocent non-threatening people it would seem that 'trigger-happy' would not be a completely inacurrate way to describe them.

Yes, asok, don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion. Harry Stanley - a Scotsman - was killed (as I mentioned above), in error, 6 years ago since which time SO19 made more than fifty thousand armed responses without a repeat of that event - until a few weeks ago. If you want to draw a straight line from those two points and conclude that the Met are trigger happy racists, go ahead.

Stephen Lawrence was not killed by the police, he was murdered by a bunch of racist yobs. The Stephen Lawrence inquiry, citing the Scarman report:

If, by [institutionally racist] it is meant that it [Britain] is a society which knowingly, as a matter of policy, discriminates against black people, I reject the allegation. If, however, the suggestion being made is that practices may be adopted by public bodies as well as private individuals which are unwittingly discriminatory against black people, then this is an allegation which deserves serious consideration, and, where proved, swift remedy".

For you to conclude from this that the Met Police are racist, seems like a conclusion based on your own prejudice.

P.S. To Londoners, Ken Livingstone is known as "Red" Ken and the Guardian is by no means a centrist publication.

On preview, NinjaPirate, Sorry. It seemed you were providing support for the cover-up conspiracy in the thread.
posted by three blind mice at 7:04 AM on August 18, 2005


(veedubya, the Met were involved in both the miner's strike and G8. Keep up)
posted by cillit bang at 7:06 AM on August 18, 2005


On preview (ahem): thanks Len

'startyed' is the olde English way of spelling started, oh yes.

jonmc writes "Well, isn't that one of the aims of terrorism, to create an atmosphere of paranoia that engenders incidents like this, and a general atmosphere of distrust and fear, thus helping to destabilize the government and the populace"

The power of nightmares. Just FYI.
posted by asok at 7:08 AM on August 18, 2005


It is fair to say that we don't see all of the (thousands of) instances when they get things right.
posted by catchmurray at 7:08 AM on August 18, 2005


Well, isn't that one of the aims of terrorism, to create an atmosphere of paranoia that engenders incidents like this, and a general atmosphere of distrust and fear, thus helping to destabilize the government and the populace?

In that case, all the more reason to treat this like a normal police fuckup and coverup, not a special situation where every criticism of police behavior has to be tempered with "but suicidal Islamofascist terrorists hellbent on destroying our way of life are worse".
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:09 AM on August 18, 2005


And asok is, in general, right about the endemic racism of the Met (and of most British police forces in general). Whether it's fitting up innocent Irishmen, framing Winston Silcott and two others for the murder of PC Keith Blakelock, Operation Swamp 81, the sus laws and the Brixton riots, the total fuck-up of the investigation into Stephen Lawrence's murder ... I could go on, but you get the picture.

That so many people are surprised about the killing of de Menezes, and about Ian Blair's attempts to stop a public inquiry surprises me: the Met have been corrupt, racist bastards for years, and this is the way they operate when faced with public scrutiny.
posted by Len at 7:10 AM on August 18, 2005


So, the point being made is that the Met travel all over the country to act as thugs? They probably do that because, you know, there's not enough people in London to beat up and shoot.

Then again, I only live and work in London, crossing the path of a few hundred Police Officers every single day, so what the hell do I know about it? I'm not usually an apologist for the Police, but the whackjobbery that's occurring in this thread makes me want to go out and shake a few of their hands.
posted by veedubya at 7:10 AM on August 18, 2005


In that case, all the more reason to treat this like a normal police fuckup and coverup,

I don't entirely disagree, but I can't ignore the idea that it was the bombings that created an atmosphere that made an incident like this that much more likely to happen, which like I said, I suspect is one of the aims of terrorism. Context is important, both when judging and when trying to find solutions, my freind.
posted by jonmc at 7:12 AM on August 18, 2005


Well, veedubya, I hope you've got the correct handshake.
posted by Len at 7:17 AM on August 18, 2005


Wheatver.
tbm, reality is subjective. I have found a good proportion of the police that I have interacted with to be ignorant racists with a chip on their shoulder and no respect for human rights. YMMV. I have also met the good ones, they do exist.

If you had read my comment you may have gathered that I was refering to the institutionalised racism within the force which severely hampered the investigation. I am aware that there was a study years after the inquiry into how the reccomendations to eradicate instituionalised racism from the force were implemented, and that this report found the force lacking in commitment to the reccomendations of the Lawrence report. In other words the force has not done it's part to make racism a thing of the past.

veedubya writes "So, the point being made is that the Met travel all over the country to act as thugs? "

Yes. They are brought in for political reasons that have nothing to do with law and order.
posted by asok at 7:18 AM on August 18, 2005


And asok is, in general, right about the endemic racism of the Met (and of most British police forces in general).

Well len you and asok have made up your mind in spite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary and you condemn that whole lot based on mistakes and the actions of a few.

Nice. How about reminding me again why we condemn racism?

Then again, I only live and work in London, crossing the path of a few hundred Police Officers every single day, so what the hell do I know about it? I'm not usually an apologist for the Police, but the whackjobbery that's occurring in this thread makes me want to go out and shake a few of their hands.

Me too veedubya, I guess the people who don't live here know more than we do.
posted by three blind mice at 7:21 AM on August 18, 2005


You can’t treat ‘the police’ as a single entity any more than you can say that ‘Muslims’ are responsible for the bombings. Any officer that was acting in good faith in accordance with their training should have the support of the police and public. It is a colossal fuck up, but we need to know where the blame actually lies.
posted by lunkfish at 7:31 AM on August 18, 2005


tbm: no, I've not made up my mind "in spite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary". I've made up my mind that the Met and other British police forces are racist and corrupt based on years of proven racist and corrup behaviour on the part of the Met and several other regional police forces.

Remember the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad? They did a nice job on the Birmingham Six, and "helped out" after Hillsborough

And Manchester police don't scrub up too well either.

Oh, and you seem to be forgetting that the Macpherson report branded the Met institutionally racist.

So, where's your mountain of evidence to the contrary?
posted by Len at 7:35 AM on August 18, 2005


three blind mice writes "mountain of evidence to the contrary"

Ok, I am going to have to go now, but I must disagree with this statement. I have not seen a mountain of evidence that the Met has made any real effort to combat institutionalised racism within the organisation.

How long does one have to live in London before one may comment on the police force, just for future reference?
posted by asok at 7:35 AM on August 18, 2005


Oh, and as for the "actions of the few" argument, that's the same argument Donald Rumsfeld was feeding everyone about Abu Ghraib's "bad apples". It was bullshit in that case, and it's bullshit here.
posted by Len at 7:37 AM on August 18, 2005


but I can't ignore the idea that it was the bombings that created an atmosphere that made an incident like this that much more likely to happen, which like I said, I suspect is one of the aims of terrorism.

Precisely.

Context is everything.

I already said the incident, and its subsequent coverup, were fuckups. But I can't apologize for unfashionably condemning the sources of chaos in this scenario, too.
posted by dhoyt at 7:43 AM on August 18, 2005


I already said the incident, and its subsequent coverup, were fuckups.

The incident was a fuckup. The coverup, if it occurred, would be far more than a fuckup. You seem to miss that crucial difference in intent, perhaps because you're too focused on being "unfashionable".
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:51 AM on August 18, 2005


BTW: my type of 'deflection' happens daily at MeFi whenever someone around the world is victimized by a terrorist bomber: "Way to go Bush!010101" is inevitably the response, no matter how unrelated. So if you condemn what I wrote, I can expect to see you in those threads asking the Bush-obsessed to concentrate on the topic at hand.
posted by dhoyt at 7:52 AM on August 18, 2005


tbm: "I say, let's let the dust settle before we condemn the Met Police."

I say Fuck the Police. The police here in the UK have been convinced they are above the law for as long as I can remember. The low-level harrassment gets ignored in the end and there is no punishment for multiple wrongful convictions and then the fuckers effectively go on strike when they are called to account for killing innocent people.

I've never met a pig who didn't make me want to spit, so fuck them.
posted by jackiemcghee at 8:00 AM on August 18, 2005


Everything since 9/11 has been a fuckup.

I don't know who is 'responsible' - it's a collective thing imo. Running from the politicians to the media to the head honchos in the police and military to al-Qaeda.

They all have something to gain at our expense. Everyone loves a scare story. The politicians get more support (unless of course shit like this keeps happening), the police gets more money, the media get great stories and al-Qaeda get more recruits.

And what do we get? more fear.

People who blame the police are so off the mark it's scary. The police enforce law. Politicians create that law.

And this

I've never met a pig who didn't make me want to spit, so fuck them.

Ignorant and pathetic.
posted by twistedonion at 8:03 AM on August 18, 2005


I've never met a pig who didn't make me want to spit, so fuck them.

oooh, you're so hardcore, fonzie. Grow up.
posted by jonmc at 8:10 AM on August 18, 2005


People who blame the police are so off the mark it's scary.

Blame the police for terroroist attacks. No.
Blame the police involved in shooting De Menezes for gross incompetence? Seems unavoidable.
Blame the head of the Metropolitan Police for corruption? Well maybe we'll have to wait and see.
posted by biffa at 8:14 AM on August 18, 2005


Blame the police involved in shooting De Menezes for gross incompetence? Seems unavoidable.

Yeah Biffa, if that policeman hadn't received orders to blow the poor guys brains out then I'd love to see him brought up for it.

I think blaming the policy makers is the sensible step in all this though.
posted by twistedonion at 8:19 AM on August 18, 2005


"Way to go Bush!010101"
The 0s there make no typological sense

is inevitably the response, no matter how unrelated

Ah, but every successful terrorist act is clearly related to the "WoT"/"GSAVE". Those who agreed with Gore, Kerry and some of the Dems that a balanced police / military response was preferable to military priapism got pissed on as pacificists and hippies; that is, until facts begin to show we were correct and now even Rumsfeld is arguing for a more balanced approach, hence the rhetoric shifting from WoT to GSAVE.

Successful terrorism is evidence of administration failure of policy and/or executive powers. Granted, we don't know how much violence the Bush Doctrine or whatever the hell we're doing worldwide has prevented, but we are getting intelligence now on what is motivating such extremists as the London bombers, and it's what we were telling you, indiscriminate slaughter of innocents in the name of the WoT.

Iraq has suffered, proportionally, about 100 9/11s in terms of civilian casualties. It is a disaster of large proportion, we members of the reality-based community warned you, you assholes went ahead anyway, and now you don't want to hear about the fallout effects it is causing. Too bad.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:26 AM on August 18, 2005


Iraq has suffered, proportionally, about 100 9/11s in terms of civilian casualties. It is a disaster of large proportion, we members of the reality-based community warned you, you assholes went ahead anyway, and now you don't want to hear about the fallout effects it is causing. Too bad.

And the real crime is.... Iraq had nothing to do with any of this.
posted by twistedonion at 8:32 AM on August 18, 2005


I'm pissed a group of police mistakenly shot one "brown man" while trying to protect the innocent public

Actually:
"In a further puzzle, the soldier staking out the block of flats identified Mr de Menezes as he left the building as IC1 -- police terminology for ethnic white."
posted by ericb at 8:45 AM on August 18, 2005


Iraq has suffered, proportionally, about 100 9/11s in terms of civilian casualties.

Don't disagree with your point but on a factual note about 3000 people were killed on 9/11, whilst Iraqi civilian casualties are at about 25,000, so you're a factor of 10 out roughly.
posted by biffa at 8:52 AM on August 18, 2005


ericb:

My word-choice was in response to ninjapirate's characterization.
posted by dhoyt at 8:57 AM on August 18, 2005


IC1 -- police terminology for ethnic white.

So "I see one" is police terminology for ethnic white? Seriously? (No real point to make here, I just find this a funny coincidence...)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:57 AM on August 18, 2005


Identity codes relating to ethnicity. (Doesn't anybody watch The Bill anymore?)
posted by biffa at 9:22 AM on August 18, 2005


Precisely.

Context is everything.


yeah, context.

do you mean "context" in the sense that 9-11 was blowback that happened in the context of decades of very aggressive, corporate-friendly and often violent American foreign policy in the Middle East? That's context, right? I'm glad you changed your mind -- so terrorists' action are to be evalued in a larger context, too?

then, I don't understand why you seem so reluctant to call the de Menezes killing with its name -- at the very least manslaughter, that now we have the evidence it was covered up with shameful, cowardly lies by the people who should, after all, have protected the tube travellers. even the brown ones.

either you always consider "context" or you can go on blaming the evil muslims even when the killers are (incompetent or murderous, thet we'll have to see) British cops.

oh, and pat yourself on the back for your "unfashionable" attitude.
posted by matteo at 9:22 AM on August 18, 2005


"In a further puzzle, the soldier staking out the block of flats identified Mr de Menezes as he left the building as IC1 -- police terminology for ethnic white."

Yeah well, I mentioned several days ago that in the few photos available this guy looks white. But that doesn't fit the 'racist' explanatory model so presumably that's why people keep saying brown. Nothing like fitting the facts to the theory. It's ok since it's such a good theory right?
posted by scheptech at 9:22 AM on August 18, 2005


dhoyt, what exactly is the terrorists' responsibility in (or role in the context of, if your prefer) police cover ups?

You're not holding the position that if the police didn't have to act in the first, then nothing would happen, are you now?
posted by magullo at 9:26 AM on August 18, 2005


in the first *place*, that is
posted by magullo at 9:26 AM on August 18, 2005


I don't know if dhoyt is ham-fistedly trying to hang me or what.

I said "looking like a brown man" in order to suggest that snap (and mistaken) racial profiling by surveying police officers was responsible for de Menezes' killing. ericb's note puts a hole in that idea, which I'm happy to accept.
However, scheptech trying to suggest the rest of the world is racist when he can easily determine a person's hue from a full-on passport photo doesn't win any cuddly toys in the argument. I'm guessing those photos weren't enlarged and being displayed for the police by Mr de Menezes as he left the flat.
posted by NinjaPirate at 9:33 AM on August 18, 2005


magullo: the context has been explained more than once in this thread. Since you're just joining us, go back and read what was written about 1) the condemnation of the police's coverup, and 2) the feelings of residual disgust for the very people who sowed precisely this kind of chaos & paranoia the previous week: the suicide bombers.

I'm not sure how many other ways it can be explained.
posted by dhoyt at 9:34 AM on August 18, 2005


I'm not trying to hang you at all, np. I was just explaining that I chose those words ("brown people") because I'd just prior read them in your comment. No offense intended.
posted by dhoyt at 9:35 AM on August 18, 2005


do you mean "context" in the sense that 9-11 was blowback that happened in the context of decades of very aggressive, corporate-friendly and often violent American foreign policy in the Middle East? That's context, right? I'm glad you changed your mind -- so terrorists' action are to be evalued in a larger context, too?

Absolutely, but I don't know whether I's put it quite that simply. Our foriegn policy has often been disastrous in the Middle East (supporting the mujahadeen (sp?) against the soviets for instance, serious lack of foresight there), and that's stirred up justifiable anger among people there. Nutjob fanatics like OBL and tinhorn dictators like Hussein appropraited that anger for their own ends.

I'm relatively sure that this is close to you're theory on the situation as well, but the word "blowback" struck me as somewhat dismissive, as if 9/11 was somehow justifiable or deserved, which it was not.

either you always consider "context" or you can go on blaming the evil muslims even when the killers are (incompetent or murderous, thet we'll have to see) British cops.

There's plenty of blame to go around for the current situation. Bad foreign policy, paranoia, and yes, OBL and his followers can step up and eat a piece of blame pie as well.
posted by jonmc at 9:37 AM on August 18, 2005


lunkfish: You can’t treat ‘the police’ as a single entity any more than you can say that ‘Muslims’ are responsible for the bombings.

Er. The Met is a heirarchical organization with direct, vertical lines of command and control, and clearly delineated ranks. So yes, you can refer to them as a single entity, much like we can refer to “Parliament” or “the Catholic Church,” because they are a single, legal entity.

I think the point you meant to make is that this single entity is made up of a vast number of individuals, each of whom brings his or her personal worldview to work. This is true, as it’s true of any group. That said, there is such a thing as an institutional culture. For a more prosaic example, it’s widely held that Apple and Microsoft are radically different organizations, despite being made of individuals.

So it’s perfectly reasonable to talk about institutional racism (i.e., a culture in which racist behavior is tolerated or promoted) within the Met. They, like many other metropolitan police departments, have certainly had their fair share of problems. This does not necessarily mean that the Met are a hoarde of rabid BNPers just waiting for someone who isn’t white as the cliffs of Dover to slip up so they can lynch them, and I think only one person in this thread has even suggested this–and he was booed down pretty quickly. Rather, it means that the way the Met tends to conceptualize ideas of “suspect behavior” (and this is true of many police departments) based around racially normative ideas: Whiteness as normality, in example, with non-Whites having something to explain.

The officers who shot de Menezes were also official representatives of the Met, backed in full by official policy, whereas the bombers and their half-assed fanclub are just shithooks with grudges constructed out of memes familiar to them.

What makes discussions of Muslim culture rather dicey is the fact that it’s a group of about 1.3 billion people, with no geographic centrality to speak of, and nothing in the way of top-down governance. This heterogeneity and diffuseness means that there is no central point, and not much in the way of commonality–hence no handholds for reasonable dicussions of shared culture. That’s why most critiques of the “Muslim community” or Islam tend to be stalking-horses for racial prejudices rather than genuine cultural analysis (at least, on the internet–the academy has some genuine attempts at this).
posted by Coda at 9:42 AM on August 18, 2005


Why aren't the government to blame? They put pressure on the investigation to turn up rapid results despite the police forces being perfectly capable of doing it the way they always do. So suddenly terrorism requires shoot to kill and super quick conviction rates?
posted by Acey at 9:58 AM on August 18, 2005


Rather, it means that the way the Met tends to conceptualize ideas of “suspect behavior” (and this is true of many police departments) based around racially normative ideas: Whiteness as normality, in example, with non-Whites having something to explain.

I'm imagining the actual shooting... I'm seeing a police officer looking at a white man, up close, and pulling the trigger. Where is the connection with institutionalized racism in this incident?

It's really interesting how misinformation from both sides of an incident can be created and spread so quickly - the thick-coated (bomber) brown man (racial victim) has now turned into a thin-coated white man. Mark down one demerit point for the cops and one for the racist-accusers. One wonders if we have any idea what we're talking about at all at this point.
posted by scheptech at 10:01 AM on August 18, 2005


scheptech: I’m imagining the actual shooting... I’m seeing a police officer looking at a white man, up close, and pulling the trigger. Where is the connection with institutionalized racism in this incident?

I didn’t say there was. I was responding to the discussions about the Met’s previous actions. The reference to de Menezes in my post was specific to lunkfish’s comment and his/her comparison with the Muslim community. My assertion was limited to the statement that the Met, unlike the Muslim community, has a specific institutional culture which, according to previous investigations and reports, is fairly racist–a common problem with police departments.

Frankly, we don’t know nearly enough about the de Menezes case to know what the officers did, let alone what they were thinking, so any discussion of racism in this specific case is based on aprehension and the Met’s less-than-perfect history.
posted by Coda at 10:21 AM on August 18, 2005


3000 people were killed on 9/11, whilst Iraqi civilian casualties are at about 25,000, so you're a factor of 10 out roughly.

Right... Iraq has 1/10th the population we do....
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:23 AM on August 18, 2005


I'm not sure how many other ways it can be explained.

I'm not sure what would satisfy you. In a thread about a possible police coverup, how often does it need to be said that terrorists are bad to avoid giving you the feeling that people discussing a possible police coverup aren't properly acknowledging that terrorists are bad? Does it need to be said in every comment that's critical of the police?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:31 AM on August 18, 2005


how often does it need to be said

I actually mentioned it once. One time. One time to just give another perception of the story at hand. Then five other users chimed in, asking for explanation.

I'd have been happy to only say it once.

Does it need to be said in every comment that's critical of the police?

Only if the police action in question is a direct result of chaos sown by terrorists.

I'll repeat what I said before.
my type of 'deflection' happens daily at MeFi whenever someone around the world is victimized by a terrorist bomber: "Way to go Bush!010101" is inevitably the response, no matter how unrelated. So if you condemn what I wrote, I can expect to see you in those threads asking the Bush-obsessed to concentrate on the topic at hand.
If you expect me to respect your opinion on this, I trust I shall see you in those aforementioned threads, imploring users why they must drag Bush/Rove into every world event or why they must deflect from the original topic.

But in the future, if you are notably absent from those threads, I'll know that your concerns here were hypocritical or partisan, rather than constructive.
posted by dhoyt at 10:52 AM on August 18, 2005


I would like to apologise for the partial derail regarding the history of the Met and its racism. The subject was brought up by tbm and dismissed out of hand by same.
I agree that in this case it does not seem that racism was the cause of the shooting. It has been clear since Menezes' photo was released that he was IC1. Other variants of ignorance and fear were at play.

I would love to live in a society where the police always acted in a professional and accountable way. It is toward this type of world that we strive. Ignorance of past wrong-doing does not help us progress.

I understand that the surveilance recording disks from the tube station were removed by the police the previous day and not replaced, explaining the lack of CCTV coverage. This followed the failed bombing attack, when the attackers used the station. Somebody is to blame for this ommision, whether they are brought to book is another question.

Also, I will learn to spell. One day.
posted by asok at 10:52 AM on August 18, 2005


tbm: no, I've not made up my mind "in spite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary". I've made up my mind that the Met and other British police forces are racist and corrupt based on years of proven racist and corrup behaviour on the part of the Met and several other regional police forces.

Remember the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad? They did a nice job on the Birmingham Six...


The Birmingham six.. in 1975... that be ancient history len. If you have to go there to prove your point, you're proving my point.

You cite a handful of instances - spread out over decades - and ignore the thousands and thousands of instances where the Met Police don't display any racism. I call bullshit on your statistical analysis.

I posted a link above that showed SO19 didn't fire a single shot last year NOT ONE and some people in this thread still want to brand them as trigger happy gonzos.

Like I said, don't let the facts stand in the way of your bias.

Yeah, the Met made a mistake in this case. Bad on them. A man is dead. Find out why, punish those who acted criminally, and move on. But to without specific evidence in this case blame it on pervasive racism in the ranks sounds like the opinion of someone who has had his dime bag emptied in front of him one too many times...
posted by three blind mice at 10:55 AM on August 18, 2005


Me too veedubya, I guess the people who don't live here know more than we do.
posted by three blind mice at 10:21 AM EST on August 18 [!]


I hope you're not suggesting that someone who was born in the UK, holds British citizenship, and has relatives in the country should not be allowed to comment on events of the day, even if that person doesn't live in London this very instant. That would be a pretty dumb suggestion to make.
posted by Rothko at 11:02 AM on August 18, 2005


somewhat dismissive, as if 9/11 was somehow justifiable or deserved, which it was not.

it's not dismissive, and personally I think it's all way more complicated than that. it's not about things being "justifiable" or "deserved", of course they're not. it's about playing with matches, so to speak, and the inherent risk of getting burned some day. as I said, I'm not personally convinced about the whole "blowback" argument. but then, I don't live in the Middle East or in Central Asia

I just think it's pretty shameful to preach "context" only when it suits cops who kill innocent people then cowardly lie about it trying to blame the victim.
posted by matteo at 11:16 AM on August 18, 2005


Well Rothko, no one says you can't comment, but like veedubya said I pass hundreds of Met Police everyday and have never once seen any one of them smacking down a darkie. I've seen plenty of drunken Brits mouthing off at Asian officers and watched with amazement when they DIDN'T get a club across the teeth. I've seen plenty of arrests and some rough handling of drunks, but I don't get the impression that these cops are all racist bastards.

I saw plenty of that from the cops in Philadelphia where I spent my time in the 1970s and I think I know the difference.

But hey, who cares about personal observation when there's Google?
posted by three blind mice at 11:18 AM on August 18, 2005


Who care's about the conclusions of professionally conducted investigations when you have anecdotal evidence?

tbm, if you were unaware of the Macpherson report conclusions that might explain your continued arguing that the Met do not have a problem with institutionalised racism. I urge you to read the conclusions. I will also repeat that the Macpherson report was follwed by another independent report on the implementation of the Macpherson reccomendations, this report concluded that there had been no real work toward eradicating the problem of institutionalised racism within the force, AFAIK. tbm, you have yet to provide any 'facts' other than one year free of police shootings.

Also, to repeat Ian Blair is now in charge of the Met, he has a very different opinion of the responsibilities of the armed police as regards weapon discharge than his predecessor.

The connection between institutionalised racism and the Menesez killing would be the cover-up. An organisation that has resisted transparency and protected bigots and thugs in the past has to do alot to appear to be taking the problems seriously.

As regards the 'dime bag' remark, let's just leave that to fester.
posted by asok at 11:25 AM on August 18, 2005


I don't get the impression that these cops are all racist bastards.

Nor do I. Where did I say that?

I saw plenty of that from the cops in Philadelphia where I spent my time in the 1970s and I think I know the difference.

Which is relevant why?

But hey, who cares about personal observation when there's Google?

I have no clue what this means. But carry on.
posted by Rothko at 11:25 AM on August 18, 2005


Does it need to be said in every comment that's critical of the police?

Only if the police action in question is a direct result of chaos sown by terrorists.


So every time the police cover up a fuckup related to the "war on terror", you require that every user preface every comment critical of the police with a disclaimer that they don't support terrorism. Should we extend this requirement to the military and judicial system as well?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:40 AM on August 18, 2005


The connection between institutionalised racism and the Menesez killing would be the cover-up.

The connection between the execution of de Menendez and an attempt to hide what really happened would be a cover-up. That's where this thread started.

It's in the Guardian so you know it's a fact!

Several of the progressives here in the blue, based on the Guardian account, immediately jerked their knees and concluded that, yep, it's racism. Has to be... victim not 100% pure white, police shoot, ergo racism. Can't be anything else.

I'll wait until there are more facts before drawing my conclusion. There are a lot of things that do not make sense. The eyewitness accounts of the day stand in stark contrast to the Guardian's post hoc account of events. Strange as it may seem to you, I am willing to give the police the benefit of the doubt.
posted by three blind mice at 11:53 AM on August 18, 2005


So every time the police cover up a fuckup related to the "war on terror", you require that every user preface

You're deliberately misreading me.

I don't care if ANY user points it out. In this case, I pointed it out. Once. As is my choice. And I stand by what it means to the context of this situation. You and the others are who've made a bigger deal of it.

I'll ask again: shall I expect to see you in those near-daily threads in which Bush/Rove are invoked for tangential reasons, questioning those users as you're questioning me now?
posted by dhoyt at 11:55 AM on August 18, 2005


Wait a second, not even the bleeding Daily Mail is going for the "yeah but at the end of the day it's because of the terrorists" angle, so just how much on the far right do you have to be to be more to the right of the DM?
Anyway, as a quick reminder, I strongly recommend those actually interested in the de Menezes case check the Channel 4 News website tomorrow, they upload the video from special reports of the evening before (latest on this story here) and they had some good interviews tonight, as usual.
posted by funambulist at 11:57 AM on August 18, 2005


Those of us who live/work/visit London on a regular basis, and have friends, almost certainly know, work, or have friends that are non-white. The simple truth, for those armchair warrriors of purity and justice out there who are determined to believe that the Met is full of institutionalised racists, is that the average Met Police Officer doesn't give a shit what colour anybody is.

Take a walk down any London street. Take a London Tube. Have a drink in any London pub. The dark of skin are far from unusual here. That's the way Londoners like it and, believe it or not, members of the Metropolitan Police are Londoners too.
posted by veedubya at 12:01 PM on August 18, 2005


The connection between institutionalised racism and the Menesez killing would be the cover-up.

Ok, have we dispensed with racism as a factor on this particular incident? Now what's the issue... the apparent coverup. Yup, if true this stinks for sure, the coverup is always worse that what's being covered-up. Like the Clinton - Monica thing: sexual indiscretion, excusable as incredibly selfish and absurdly poor judgement - looking into the camera and lying directly to the American people about it: inexcusable, indefensible. Mistakes happen, coverups are not mistakes, they're deliberate.
posted by scheptech at 12:05 PM on August 18, 2005


It's in the Guardian so you know it's a fact!

They are no less accurate than any other non-tabloid daily in the UK. What paper would you prefer? Financial Times? Private Eye?

That said, what does a left-wing rag like The Guardian gain, politically speaking, by openly criticizing the Labour party? If they were really as biased as is claimed by some here, then they wouldn't cover the issue at all.
posted by Rothko at 12:05 PM on August 18, 2005


As a side note on the "cops are rascist meme", exactly where do people get the idea that all, or even most city cops on the street are white? I've never been to London, and therefore don't know the Met racial breakdown, but here in DC (A majority-minority city), the police force is largely composed of minorities. I would imagine that if it's as diverse a city as DC, London would be the same way.
posted by unreason at 12:08 PM on August 18, 2005


Coda, the point I was trying to make wasn't really about institutional racism or whether the individuals were good or bad people.

I'm saying that different officers had different parts to play in the operation, and if someone was acting on bad information it's wrong to blame them.

I'm not saying this was or wasn't the case here - we obviously don't have all the facts.

While we should be highly skeptical of the police, I think it has to enter the public consciousness that firearms officers on the front line are not necessarily to blame for mistakes, and shouldn't be used as scapegoats.
posted by lunkfish at 12:09 PM on August 18, 2005


I'll ask again: shall I expect to see you in those near-daily threads in which Bush/Rove are invoked for tangential reasons, questioning those users as you're questioning me now?

Karl, the first person to mention Bush or Rove in this thread was you. Relax and stop inventing strawmen.
posted by Rothko at 12:10 PM on August 18, 2005


While we should be highly skeptical of the police, I think it has to enter the public consciousness that firearms officers on the front line are not necessarily to blame for mistakes, and shouldn't be used as scapegoats.

If they fuck up because of bad policy, management that makes those policies should be held to account. Sir Ian intervened in the proper course of this investigation because his managerial agenda requires him to, namely his "100%" support for SO19, regardless of any catastrophic failures"collateral damage". The larger issues surrounding how security is handled in the UK, or any civilized, free country for that matter, deserves scrutiny on this basis alone.
posted by Rothko at 12:15 PM on August 18, 2005


Unreason, the police in London are without a doubt institutionally racist. It has also been a deliberate policy to recruit officers from outside London so there is a strong culture of the police being a different tribe.

But that said, the only way forward is to try and change it and support ethnic minority officers. If you treat all police like shit, you won't get decent people joining. Same if you don't support innocent police involved in bad situations.
posted by lunkfish at 12:15 PM on August 18, 2005


If they fuck up because of bad policy, management that makes those policies should be held to account.

Agreed. But general police bashing will never change anything.
posted by lunkfish at 12:17 PM on August 18, 2005


tbm, the attempt at stopping an enquiry is being reported on all TV channels as well, so not just the Guardian.

There was no mention of racism being the cause of the shooting in this thread.

I admire your reluctance to wait until there are more facts before you draw a conclusion, and your willingness to give the police the benefit of the doubt. Would I could have such faith in the oft disgraced Met.

The report also found evidence that treatment of ethnic minority officers had worsened since 1999 when the Macpherson report into the bungled Stephen Lawrence inquiry first accused the Met of "institutional racism".


The eyewitness accounts of the day were confused, unsuprisingly. The evidence that I have seen suggests Menesez did not jump the barrier, did not run from officers, was wearing a denim jacket, was not made aware that the police wanted to 'question' him, was physically restrained by a police officer when he was shot and that the police who did the shooting were not in contact with the surveilance team or anyone else when they were on the train.

In a few weeks time I will be spending some time with people who train the police and armed forces in physical combat. I hope to get a more informed perspective as to how such a disasterous chain of events could take place.

In other news your quote from the 1981 Scarman report that concluded that there is no such thing as institutionalised racism is a tad out of date.

And finally, vedubya and tbm have you considered the possibility that other people contributing to this thread may have friends and family in London, that they may indeed live in London and they may have just as much experience as you as regards life in London.
posted by asok at 12:21 PM on August 18, 2005


I also don't think racism is really an issue here, but you have to keep in mind the initial reports spoke of a man looking Asian and that being a factor in suspicion and no matter where that came from, the police allowed it to stick, and then in these latest leaked documents you have a quote from a police officer saying they thought they guy was Hussein Osman and he had the same "Mongolian eyes", whatever that's supposed to mean (really, what on earth does it mean? is it a joke?); also, they were rather quick to leak to the press the story about de Menezes having been illegally in the country.
That report about institutional racism in the police was about a series of incidents with actual racist abuse, which is quite another story; this is more like, they tried to use every possible card to "explain" how those officers acted, which is the real issue - the specific intelligence and police/military screwup itself, and most of all the following management of it, and the new policies being called up to justify the whole thing.
posted by funambulist at 12:23 PM on August 18, 2005


asok, that'd be great. Let's have those of us that have personally experienced racism at the hands of the Met recount their experiences. I'd be particularly interested in the accounts of those many, many people out there that have been shot by SO19.

*tumbleweeds*
posted by veedubya at 12:29 PM on August 18, 2005


unreason, there was a documentary by the BBC about racism in police training. I think a lot of the police=racism stems from that.
Link
posted by Navek Rednam at 12:32 PM on August 18, 2005


veedubya, SO19 unfortunately shoot people dead, subsequently they tell no tales. Did you read the links I provided?
posted by asok at 12:34 PM on August 18, 2005


Ok then, asok, why don't you explain it to me slowly enough that I'll be able to understand: Exactly how many people have SO19 shot dead in, say, the last 10 years? Out of interest, how does that compare with the number of people that died violent deaths on July 7?
posted by veedubya at 12:41 PM on August 18, 2005


As a point of reference, I found this table that was made in 2002 of firearms related incidents for the Met:

Year . Shots fired . No of incidents . Injuries/fatalities

1993 . 13 ............ 4 ................... 4/2
1994 . 19 ............ 4 ................... 3/1
1995 . 27 ............ 4 ................... 6/1
1996 . 22 ............ 4 ................... 3/1
1997 . 7 .............. 1 ................... 1/0
1998 . 7 .............. 3 ................... 3/0
1999 . 4 .............. 3 ................... 3/1
2000 . 4 .............. 3 ................... 3/1
2001 . 9 .............. 4 ................... 1/1
Totals 113 ........... 29 ................. 27/8
posted by unreason at 12:53 PM on August 18, 2005


Just to clarify, I'm not taking a stance on abuse of power in the Met, I just thought the stats might be useful.
posted by unreason at 12:54 PM on August 18, 2005


Interesting stats, unreason.

veedubya, I am sorry, but I can't be doing any rhetorical/strawman pissing competitions at this hour.

Some more info on the Virdi case, another person sacked for emailing, but the question is; who actually did send the emails? A bit like the Nigerian Uranium thing./derail
posted by asok at 1:01 PM on August 18, 2005


Now with added Oh noes- Guardian link!
posted by asok at 1:03 PM on August 18, 2005


So for every bullet SO19 fires at you, there is a 7% chance you'll be killed. Or, for every incident/encounter you have with SO19, you have a 28% chance you will be killed — or, out of every four encounters, roughly, one person will die.

With a shoot-to-kill policy, those figures will likely rise. To me, this is is not even an issue of racism, but one bourne out of poor training and incompetent management.
posted by Rothko at 1:04 PM on August 18, 2005


Now with added Oh noes- Guardian link! Need food.
posted by asok at 1:04 PM on August 18, 2005


So, asok, you're full of shit. Look at them stats that unreason provided. Compare them with the inflammatory crap that you're spouting. Your previous comment stated categorically that everybody that the SO19 shot died, now you're proved wrong and you're suddenly too tired to argue. Bullshit.
posted by veedubya at 1:08 PM on August 18, 2005


Nice one, unreason. That drop in 'shots fired', 'no. of incidents' and 'Injuries/fatalities' positively correlates with New Labour gaining power.
posted by gsb at 1:10 PM on August 18, 2005


So for every bullet SO19 fires at you, there is a 7% chance you'll be killed. Or, for every incident/encounter you have with SO19, you have a 28% chance you will be killed — or, out of every four encounters, roughly, one person will die.

Rothko, I don't think that's quite accurate. When they're talking about incidents, I think they mean instances where a firearm is actually used, not any case where SO19 is deployed. So when you consider that SO19 isn't going to fire their guns every, or even most times, that they're called in, your real chance of dying after encountering SO19 is probably a lot lower than 28%.
posted by unreason at 1:31 PM on August 18, 2005


dhoyt writes "I can't apologize for unfashionably condemning the sources of chaos in this scenario, too."

It's not the condemning that's unfashionable, it's your shifting the subject.
posted by clevershark at 1:36 PM on August 18, 2005


Rothko, I don't think that's quite accurate. When they're talking about incidents, I think they mean instances where a firearm is actually used, not any case where SO19 is deployed. So when you consider that SO19 isn't going to fire their guns every, or even most times, that they're called in, your real chance of dying after encountering SO19 is probably a lot lower than 28%.

The SO19 is only deployed in situations where armed police are required. I see your point but wonder if the numbers are really that far off, since their services are used sparingly.

Even if those numbers only reflect instances where firearms are used, those are very poor performance numbers, no? If on average one in four people were shot and killed by police in the US, there would be a justifiable outcry that either police are not trained properly, or that being given the go-ahead by management that use of firearms in that manner is acceptable is, in fact, quite unacceptable.
posted by Rothko at 1:46 PM on August 18, 2005


SO19 cross train with the SAS, SBS, GSG9 and other elite counterterrorist units. They are to a man exceptionally well trained marksman as well as extremely well versed in when to shoot/when not to shoot. Virtually every instance of them being called to an incident is defused without death or injury. It's a terrible shame this happened but to slag off an entire group of strangers on the basis of one individual incident is to put a horrible spin on the situation.
posted by longbaugh at 1:56 PM on August 18, 2005


The SO19 is only deployed in situations where armed police are required. I see your point but wonder if the numbers are really that far off, since their services are used sparingly.

I had thought that too, but actually, according to their web site, they're called in on some pretty mild cases, including a lot of instances of minors with air rifles, in which the officers aren't likely to end up shooting anyone. So the actual numbers are pretty low. If you look at the table above the one I linked to, SO19 was deployed in 2001 1,065 times. In that same year there were 4 incidents, with 1 fatality, 1 casualty. The means that if you were a subject of SO19 deployment, you had a .093% chance of getting killed by SO19, and a total .18% chance of getting killed or injured by SO19 firearms. That's pretty low, by anyone's standards.
posted by unreason at 2:00 PM on August 18, 2005


They are to a man exceptionally well trained marksman

No doubt. Look at the results.
posted by Rothko at 2:02 PM on August 18, 2005



Accountability protects the police officers on the street as well as the public from police errors as well as the bad eggs. It’s been pointed out upthread that the police are not superhuman. This fact needs to be recognized and the best way to do that is to be open about mistakes. It protects officers who make mistakes because it recognizes that everyone makes them. Certainly someone might lose their lives, but that doesn’t mean a good officers who drops the ball once should be sentenced for the rest of his life.
However, the authorites are attempting to create the appearance of control in order to divert the percieved power of the terrorists.
To do this they must allow a certain amount of terror - not attacks as such, but the fear generated - (because if you feel perfectly safe you won’t give them the latitude to do what they think they need to) and they must appear to be competant. That means capturing/killing ‘bad guys.’ It also means they must contrast as much as possible with the terrorists. Terrorists kill innocents. The authorities cannot appear to do so.
To preserve these appearances, they must cover up, distort, and lie.
Unfortuantely in preserving this lie, they overlook the fact that people do make mistakes, that there are corrupt or incompetant officers and that their objectives are self-defeating. You cannot protect someone by fostering an illusion of safety only through your efforts.
You then put the police in a position where they have to be superhuman, because that’s the image. So they have much further to fall when they try and fail to live up to it. And you get more innocent people killed.

All this could be avoided by being honest and not panicking.
Monkeys will almost never let go of the nut in the jar even though it means never freeing their hands. The tragedy of it is humans need not be monkeys.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:05 PM on August 18, 2005


Hear, hear...
posted by funambulist at 2:26 PM on August 18, 2005


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4158832.stm

BBC article pointing out the discrepancies I mentioned above, along with a heap more discrepancies…

Unfortunately it doesn't shed much further light, but at least Mark Whitby hasn't disappeared from the radar. I'd dearly love to know how he got it so wrong. (I reckon veedubya's theory is the best explanation so far.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:04 PM on August 18, 2005


jonmc: "oooh, you're so hardcore, fonzie. Grow up."

Whatever, jon. Perhaps you've just never had the experiences with the UK police that I've had. Not everything is written to try to impress you with how nails I am.

Frankly, I'm surprised to see this comment coming from you but then maybe you've had an epiphany recently. Or found the sweet lord baby jesus. Whatever.
posted by jackiemcghee at 11:44 PM on August 18, 2005


Simon Hattenstone talks about some older cases involving Police killings, most of them were not firearms related. E.g.

In 1994 Richard O'Brien died after being restrained by police at a party they had been called to - reports focused on the fact that he was overweight (ie vulnerable) and had just been in a fight. In fact, the fight had involved two women.

In 1999 Roger Sylvester died after being restrained on his stomach by six police officers. He was portrayed as a feral, naked black man prowling the streets of Tottenham - in fact he was an average-sized naked man with mental health problems locked outside his house. He was also described as a crack addict, although no traces of cocaine were found in his blood or urine. Newspapers published first and apologised afterwards.

In 2003 Mikey Powell, a man without a criminal record, died after police officers drove their car at him, sprayed him with CS gas and restrained him. Soon after, an article in a local paper said that the police had driven their car at him only because he pointed a gun at them. He was actually holding a belt. When the family complained to West Midlands police, they were told it had been a mistake made by a source close to the investigation. By then the damage had been done. In the public mind, Powell was a crazed gunman who deserved to die.

Anyway, there's a few more in the article. And that's why I'm a pessimist.
posted by gsb at 1:48 AM on August 19, 2005


gsb, you missed this story from earlier in the month. A (black) man was taken into a police station in Plumstead, London and died within two hours. The IPCC is again investigating.

Whatever, jon. Perhaps you've just never had the experiences with the UK police that I've had. Not everything is written to try to impress you with how nails I am.

I think jon was just pointing out what an absolute dick you made yourself sound.
posted by biffa at 2:17 AM on August 19, 2005


Brazilian government is sending their investigators to the UK
posted by funambulist at 2:37 AM on August 19, 2005


veedubya, I am sorry if your lack of knowledge about the history of the Met has led you to feel that there is some shared animosity between us. I am sorry that you do not seem to want to raise the level of debate from point scoring to sharing knowledge and learning.
Your approach to discourse during this thread has included ad hominem attacks, straw man argument, obfuscation and bull-headedness. I hope you can read links and engage properly in debate in the future. Maybe you should think before defaming another member on this forum. It has not been a pleasure.

• Your experience of police racism will be affected by your skin colour and economic status. I don't believe that you are black and poor, are you?
• You cannot seriously expect people who have been subject to racial discrimination at the hands of the Met, given the probablility of their being a)online and b) Mefi members to chime in here with their stories at your request. Also, anecdotal evidence is of limited value. That is why there are professionaly compiled reports, done by researchers, into these contentious areas. Have you read the links?
• The same would apply to people who have been involved with SO19 shootings.
• I am sorry if you misread my comments, in the future I will attempt to be clearer. I did not state that everyone that SO19 shoot will neccessarily die as a result. 'Dead men tell no tales' was a rhetorical device to highlight the idiocy of demanding first hand accounts from those involved.
• Bringing up the July 7th bombing deaths in relation to innocent people killed by SO19 is a particularly morbid and inappropriate strawman comparison.
• I am glad that the firearms wealding Met police officers have not killed a lot of innocent people. However, any innocent death is an afront to justice and law enforcement. There are plenty of them at the hands of the police, as anyone who studies the subject would know.
• Given the leaked 'Shoot to stop' guidelines, which are still classified, it would seem to me that there is plenty of cause for concern that the number of innocents shot by the police could rise.
• I would agree that it is unwise to extrapolate the behaviour of some officers out to tar a whole department with the same brush. However, when the Comissioner blocks an enquiry by the IPCC , whilst allowing the public to be mis-informed about the event, publishing new (classified) guidleines as to police shooting etiquette and re-stating that he feels the police should only be investigated in cases showing 'gross negligence or recklessness', and when it is obvious that the Menesez case involved gross negligence and recklessness, I am forced to question his commitment to justice. By extension his force is thrown into a bad light.

Keith Hellawell had some interesting things to say last night on Newsnight, mostly about how the structure of the Met allowed senior officers to escape blame in situations such as this, and also that different forces have chosen not to use fatal shootings in rounding up terrorists. You can see it for 24 hours here. One of the most interesting observations during the program was; what would the Met be 'allowing to be understood' about the Menesez shooting had the IPCC admin not aledgedly released the leaked info?

My theory on the Menesez shooting today is that the shooter wanted to 'even the score' by 'getting one of them' in a revenge attack for the successful bombings on the 7th. This kind of quid pro quo revenge stupidity is what has got the population (of the US at least) to support the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
No good can come from this.

One of the questions I would like anwered is, why did key officers in the shooting get sent away in holiday at the tax-payers expense immediately after the tragic events?
posted by asok at 6:10 AM on August 19, 2005


Some more interesting updates on this case in the past few days:

Row over 'blank' CCTV tapes at station: Yesterday, the Evening Standard reported that senior tube sources had challenged claims that cameras on the platform were not working, but said police had returned tapes to them saying they were blank. The paper quoted a senior transport union official as saying at least three of the four cameras on the platform were working, and said station staff were amazed and furious when told the tapes were blank. "It is most unusual to say the least," the official said. Police and Tube firm at odds over CCTV footage of innocent Brazilian's shooting: ...in a statement to The Mail on Sunday, Tube Lines said: "We are not aware of any faults on CCTV cameras at that station on that day. Nothing of that nature has been reported to us." Yesterday the company refused to elaborate. While some sources denied police had deliberately wiped the tapes, others remained convinced there was a cover-up.

(some comments on that from this UK blog - more from the BBC Weblog Watch)

British police admit offering compensationVictim's family attack cash offer

It emerges that the officers who shot Mr de Menezes have yet to give evidence to the Independent Police Complaints Commission because they went on holiday after the killing.

De Menezes report due at Christmas

Call for public inquiry into de Menezes shooting
posted by funambulist at 5:48 AM on August 23, 2005


Also again on the CCTV issue: Staff say Stockwell Tube shooting was caught on camera

And see Channel 4 news special reports with video

(sorry to cram so many links here, was just browsing from google news so I thought I might as well post them here for those still following - I thought it might be overkill to post another FPP update while this thread is still fresh, but if anyone wants to feel free to repost anything!)
posted by funambulist at 5:59 AM on August 23, 2005


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