Nothing but Contempt

Issue section: 
(299)

As if the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian man shot at Stockwell tube on 22 July by the Metropolitan Police, was not shocking enough, the behaviour of the police since has been appalling.

Despite initial claims, Jean Charles was not wearing a padded jacket, he didn't run from the police, nor did he jump the tube ticket-barrier and there were no grounds for seeing him as an immediate threat.

All this comes on top of the contemptuous way the police have treated the de Menezes family since the killing. Their fight to get to the truth has been frustrated at every turn. Whether there was a conscious and systematic cover-up or not, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Ian Blair, made his wish known in February that police who shoot people should be immune from prosecution.

There is a direct link between the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes and the government's response to the bombings on 7 July. Tony Blair used this to further attack civil liberties. Little wonder then that the police adopted a shoot to kill policy and an innocent man was murdered.

The impressive demonstrations that have taken place since the killing show the scale of the anger against the police. They have been forced to review their shoot to kill policy and the government is on the defensive. As in the killing of Harry Stanley, who was shot dead by police in Hackney in 1999, determined and persistent campaigning is needed to get near the truth, and attempt to hold those responsible to account. Similar determination and campaigning are needed to ensure the de Menezes family get justice for the murder of their son.