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British cops kill worker in ‘antiterrorist’ drive
Arizona miners back union fight in Utah
A visit to Venezuela’s El Charcote ranch
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 69/No. 30August 8, 2005


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British cops kill worker
in ‘antiterrorist’ drive
lead article
British cop stationed at housing project during July 23 raid on house in Brixton, south London. A day earlier police shot dead an electrician in the Tube (subway).

LONDON, July 25—Brutally demonstrating their new shoot-to-kill policy, the Metropolitan Police shot dead a worker on an Underground train (subway) here July 22. The summary execution came a day after four failed bomb attacks here, and two weeks after the July 7 bombings in London.

The government and its police forces are using these incidents to try to legitimize increased police powers and other attacks on the rights of working people. Their proposals include measures to extend the period that cops may detain individuals without charges and steps to tighten border controls.

At first the police attempted to justify the slaying of 27-year-old electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, falsely stating that he was “directly linked” to the July 21 attempted attacks. Their story quickly fell apart, however.

Police, who had kept under surveillance the apartment building where the young worker lived with his cousins, followed him to the train in Stockwell, south London. There, according to eyewitnesses quoted in the press, more than a dozen plainclothes cops with assault rifles started running toward the frightened worker, chased him onto a train, pinned him to the floor, and shot him eight times, pumping seven bullets into his head in front of horrified passengers.

Police spokesmen said the worker seemed “suspicious” because he had run from the cops and because he was wearing a “padded jacket.”

The next day the cops changed their story, admitting that de Menezes was not a suspect and calling the killing a “tragedy.” Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair reaffirmed the shoot-to-kill policy, however. “Somebody else could be shot” in future police actions, he said, but that everything would be “done to make it right.”

The police unit that was involved, SO19, is trained in “tracking and killing terrorists” by the SAS, the British army’s special forces.

The family of the slain worker, who had emigrated from Brazil three years ago, condemned the police. The cops “have to pay for that in many ways, because if they do not, they are going to kill many people,” his cousin Alex Pereira told the BBC. “They killed my cousin; they could kill anyone.”

Kenneth Livingstone, the mayor of London and a member of the Labour Party, said, “the terrorists bear responsibility” for de Menezes’ death, not the cops. He reaffirmed the shoot-to-kill policy.

Khalid Mahmood, a Labour Member of Parliament who is viewed as a leader of Muslims, said that “shooting to kill is justified.” Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, also defended the shoot-to-kill policy, insisting that “our police are not trigger-happy.”

Plainclothes cops toted assault rifles as they patrolled a street in North West London, a few hours after the killing of de Menezes. Earlier they had tear-gassed and raided a house in the area. Another armed raid took place July 23 in a working-class area of south London.

Cops have so far arrested five individuals they claim were involved in the July 21 failed bombings of three Underground trains and a bus. Police spokesmen have said they are targeting individuals of East African background.Meanwhile at a July 21 meeting with Prime Minister Anthony Blair, police chiefs and heads of the secret police proposed that cops be allowed to hold “suspects” without charges for up to 90 days, an increase from the current 14-day limit.

They also called for “setting up a special border force consisting of Customs, immigration, Special Branch and uniformed police,” according to the Times of London.

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