Clowns & Jokers

Stuck in the middle.... Left, right, centre. It's a mess out there.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Shoot to Thrill

In today's Guardian they assert in their leading article about the ongoing Shoot to Kill policy which is now under review that :

"Mr de Menezes died on July 22 at Stockwell tube station after being mistaken for a suicide bomber. The case is under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. A string of blunders have emerged, including the white Brazilian man being misidentified as a black African terrorism suspect".

The Daily Ablution pointed out that a Paul Myers' piece: "in the Guardian a few weeks back ("Black men can't run") used the tragic shooting as an opportunity to complain about treatment he perceived as racist on the part of the police, when he was stopped and questioned "a few years back" while running through a high-burglary area at night with a holdall bag.

For Mr. Myers, both his experience and that of Mr. de Menezes are manifestations of institutionalised racism among the police. After having earlier complained that "police have killed a dark-skinned man they thought was on the verge of an atrocity," he expresses "queasiness" at the police being given "apparent carte blanche to marksmen to unload bullets into dark-skinned people." He also asks a pointed question: "The Met commissioner apologises but says police may have to shoot other innocent people to protect the community. And their colour will be ... ?" Well, any colour since Mr. de Menezes was white." Spot on.

For the Guardian to underline this as the police blunder is typical of the institutionalised hatred they have for the armed police.

The police had only a murky CCTV image from the tube platform to work from at the time, the mans face was not all that clear. I remember thinking that the young man didnt look all that Asian. He could have easily been Mediterannean.

The police were working from these fuzzy images when the shooting incident took place.

In contrast the Guardian, when they published the above Myers piece assuming the police would gun down all and any black men, had several nice clear images of de Menezes.

They are quick to state the police errors as blunders. But I would suggest The Guardian's was the donkey detective work in this instance.

There is no doubt that the shoot to kill policy needs a review and anything that can help armed officers in the future and their commanders be locked in place. According to the Guardian the following are being looked into:

. Whether any other non-lethal weapons exist or are in development that could rapidly incapacitate a suspected suicide bomber
· How much intelligence is needed before officers are authorised to shoot to kill
· How to assess intelligence rapidly when under massive pressure
· How to ensure effective communications between commanders at base and those pursuing a suspect.

All well and good but surely this only highlights the big big problem we are facing. The police dont believe a tasar gun is useful as the charge may set off the bomb. And anyway Liberty, our favourite do gooders , dont like tasars either 'cos they hurt and might give you a heart attack. Bit like sitting next to suicide bomber when they go off then.

They are unlikely to disband the controversial policy altogether. Thankfully in my opinion. But it is clear that the three other points focusing on intelligence will be key. What is clear is just how hard that is to do in a matter of minutes. Hesitating could be fatal. You cant whip out a photo run up to the suicide bomber and say 'ooh no hang on a second im not quite sure let me get my specs out'. The officer in the leaked statement alleges that Jean Charles had his hands held in an odd manner at waist level when he stood up and walked towards them. We need our officers to be determined and unwavering in their decisions even if the outcome is as tragic as it has proven to be in this case. I live in the hope that badly leaked information aside, the full report will show that these men acted with the greater good of the public at heart and exonerate them from claims they were trigger happy mentalists.

Thinking back to the storming of the Iranian Embassy. The SAS officer coming down the stairs when the hostages had been freed spotted out of the corner of his eye one of the hostages fiddling with his top and quickly pulling an object. He turned and gunned the man down without hesitation, instantly killing him. It transpired that the object was a grenade. The man was one of the terrorists who had cleverly pretended to be a relieved and grateful freed hostage making his way out of the building. The SAS officer is a hero. But what if the guys had been one of the freed hostages reaching for a fag.