Thursday, August 18, 2005

Loose Cannons

About a month ago, I wrote a blog entry that asked, "What Does a Terrorist Look Like?" Turns out the British police don't know either and, in the wake of the transit bombings this July, their miscalculation led them to murder an innocent man with seven shots to the head.

The Sydney Morning Herald has a heartbreaking account of how Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes became a doomed man when the police photographer stepped away to the "loo," leaving his overzealous colleagues to start a manhunt that ended in Menezes' murder in front of horrified bystanders.

All the justifications -- he ignored police warnings, he jumped the turnstile, he ran from police, he wore a heavy jacket, carried a bag -- are false. As a privileged white woman, I have a basic trust of the police. The only reason I understood the verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial was my experience teaching the history of the civil rights movement when white bigots perfected the art of jury nullification. But, no matter how much faith we put in law enforcement, it is still comprised of human beings capable of making mistakes, trying to cover them up, poor judgement, and nursing a grudge.

Unfortunately, the only way the media and the public knows the truth about this incident is through leaked documents. Borrowing a page from the public relations strategy of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Brits avoid accountability and if someone asks a question, they lie. British police have yet to produce a photograph showing Menezes in the fabled heavy jacket and bag.

Mr. Menezes' family and friends deserve better to explain the unexplainable. Their son died senselessly and one phone call might have changed all of their lives.

In the midst of the frenzy that places two-year-olds on the "no fly list", I want to re-phrase Rodney King's plea: "Can't we all just slow down and think?"

(More coverage at the BBC)


At 6:31 AM, Blogger edwardingals2191 said...

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