Thursday, July 28, 2005

In Times of War, the First Casualty Is Always Truth

Well, well. Turns out that the British authorities lied about the innocent Brazilian kid murdered by cops at London's Stockwell tube station last Friday. Despite the early spin, he was not wearing a bulky jacket and did not leap the ticket barrier as reported.

Since the neocons' bloodthirsty defenders of state murder screamed about these fabrications as being prima facie evidence the kid deserved five in the noggin, I wonder if they'll recant anytime soon.

I'm not holding my breath.


beaconofjoy said...

Hi Jason,

Interesting blog, lots of variety. I couldn't resist responding to this item, being the practical neocon that I am! [My political history: went from being socialist in college to aCLU loving liberal Democrat (in my 20's) to moderate Democrat (30's) and after 9/11 (and turning 40), to moderate right Republican on foreign affairs, still moderate centrist on domestic issues, such as support for stem cell research, but despising the ACLU].

I know people are cynical and love beating up on the cops, but do you really think they had any desire to kill an innocent man? They obviously thought the guy had a bomb and that he was endangering everybody on the subway. That's why they shot him in the head. Police shoot in the head when they think someone is wearing a bomber vest. If you shoot someone in the chest (the usual place cops are trained to aim for when they think their life is in danger) and he's wearing a bomb vest, the vest will explode, killing and maiming everyone around him. They shoot in the head when they suspect a bomb vest because they want him INSTANTLY dead, so dead that he can't grab the ignition button with his dying breath.
It wasn't like the cops just picked some foreign looking guy off the street. He came out of an apartment building that was being watched (yes, they should have done a much better job of seeing which particular apartment he had come out of, and been able to check him off as not coming out of the apartment where suspected terrorists lived) and he was wearing a jean jacket (this is what his wife said) on a very hot day. You have to admit that it's not the most usual thing to wear a jacket of any kind on a very hot day.

The thing is, when the police identified themselves and told the Brazilian to stop, why did he keep running? Likely because he had done something petty, maybe had some problem with his immigration status or something, and he certainly didn't think he was suspected of being a bomber, and didn't think his life was in danger. So he ran just out of panic, hoping he could outrun them. But of course his running to the subway just reinforced the cops' suspicions and freaked them out. Remember,it's like the week after 9/11 there; people are on hyper alert and emotional, and the cops think that another bombing is coming any day, especially on the subway. Have a little compassion for the cops who are just doing their best to keep people safe, at great risk to themselves. Keep in mind, that, since the cops thought this guy had a bomb, the cops thought they were risking their own lives by pursuing him. They (and of course the victim's family) deserve our compassion, not our scorn. I can see it from both sides, and see that the police and the Brazilian acted like most normal people would have reacted, and unfortunately at that moment in time, it was a deadly mix. The police can certainly do more to improve their procedures, but since this is all new to them (or actually it's not new, but this is the first time they are taking it seriously), I choose to give them a break.

Love you,
Cousin Lee

J Ballot said...

Hi Cousin Lee!

Great to hear from you, and thanks for checking out my blog.

You make some interesting points, and I have just 2 quick replies:

1. One of my problems with this situation is the use of plainclothes cops. Given that English was not the kid's first language, it's easy to imagine his terror when armed men are yelling and running after him (and they're not easily identified as police by their clothing) -- I think that's why he ran. "Plainclothes" is another word for "cops in disguise" -- they're essentially spying on an unsuspecting populace. It's ironic that, in order to preserve "freedom" and "our way of life," the police engage in reviled tactics once reserved for repressive regimes (pardon the alliteration).

2. The main target for my post wasn't so much the behavior of the cops but the whitewash that ensued. The authorities justified their actions in part on the pretexts that the kid was wearing a "bulky" jacket and had jumped the turnstiles -- neither of which turned out to be true. The defense you presented was much more rational than the lying issued by British authorities. If the cops' behavior was appropriate, then why did they lie? And the worst part is the falsehoods were picked up and spread like wildfire by the media here -- people tend to hear that part but seldom the retractions and corrections that follow.

Anyway -- welcome to the blogosphere! I'll be keeping an eye on your new blog.

Love you too! :)