Monday, July 25, 2005

How Not to Get Shot on Your Way to Work

"I heard a lot of noise, people saying, 'Get out, get down.' I saw an Asian guy. He ran on to the train, he was hotly pursued by three plain clothes officers, one of them was wielding a black handgun.”
– Mark Whitby, witness to the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician mistakenly executed by London police

"How could they have done such a thing as to kill him from behind?" Mr. Alves [a cousin of de Menezes] told the Globo Television Network. "How could they have confused and killed a light-skinned person who had no resemblance at all to an Asian?"
– New York Times, 7/24/05

Quick, Pick-a-Terrorist

At 10:00 am on July 22nd, the temperature in London was 62 degrees. This was the "summery day" that, to someone from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil, might feel cool enough to throw on a coat. A photo run by the New York Times shows a cross section of Londoners in the subway that day, ranging from people wearing t-shirts to a gentleman in a bulky sweater. Avedon Carol, who posts from London, concurs.

– Scott Barbour/Getty Images

“It's a deeply regretful action. But we have to consider what would have happened if these officers had not shot, and that man had been a suicide bomber and had got on the tube and the doors [had] closed with the officers having taken the wrong decision.”
–Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, apologizing for the regrettable killing

Yes, we do, especially those of us in a country where our leaders have a history of taking decisive, violent action in highly ambiguous circumstances. Therefore, we advise all readers to take the following precautions. Do not:

1. Live in low-income housing, especially near non-white residents.

2. Take public transportation.

3. Work as an electrician.

4. Allow wires to protrude from your clothing. Use an iPod at your own risk!

5.Come from the Middle East. Or look as if you come from the Middle East, Asia or Latin America.

6. Wear clothes bulkier than the natives wear, even if the weather is cooler than you are accustomed to.

7. Run if you are accosted by three non-uniformed men, including one with a handgun.

8. Think running onto a subway car will afford protection.

Bonus tips:
Don't carry a rucksack. Lose weight, especially if you are large around the middle. Do not put on a life preserver before getting on a boat, and always wear it outside your clothing! Better yet, avoid boats. Renounce the Muslim faith.

I don't discount the pressure that was on the London police that day. My brother is a cop, and he was involved, along with his partner, in the shooting of a kid who was wielding a gun. That was a regrettable ending to an incident in which a kid had made a bad mistake. But the kid lived, and the cops can live with themselves.

de Menezes died, seven bullets pumped into his head on a subway floor. And his mistakes were 1 through 8, above.

You could charitably go back over the details and say, yes, it was a terrible, regrettable misreading. But totally understandable, given all that was happening.

We wouldn't want them to have held back, to have let the terrorist-bomber-madman-dictator-WMD-program-like-activities-evildoer kill innocent people while we stood idly by. Surely even Jean Charles de Menezes would agree with that.


Blogger Charlie Quimby said...

Let's add on more reason: Don't let your visa expire.

And remember why it's good to wait a couple days before proclaiming on current events.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Recidivist said...

Well if you want reason, then try this:

"My understanding is that he was here lawfully."

.. from Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary, speaking last night AFTER the scurrilous rumour that Jean Charles de Menezes was in the UK illegally was spread by those trying to criminalize him in order to justify the police action.

When you come from a city where more people are shot and killed by the police every year than are murdered in the whole of the UK .. when you were attacked only a few weeks earlier .. when you are in the most violent part of town (country even) .. and you are confronted by a gang of men touting guns - who according to every single eyewitness failed to identify themselves as police - then you really don't need an excuse to run for your life.

Only a few weeks earlier he had willingly stopped for an immigration check on the tube .. when the officers involved had identified themselves properly.

It really is quite sick that some people are so willing to try to blacken the name of a perfectly decent, honest and hard working man, so that an irresponsible and totally botched police action can be justified.

'Shoot-to-kill' victim was here legally, says Straw

Yes, let's get those who are so desperate to defend the police to see a little reason and accept what was obvious to anyone with an ounce of commonsense within six hours of the shooting occurring: The Police screwed up and don't have the decency to take the blame for their own incompetence squarely on the chin.

11:53 PM  

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