UK govt boosts police
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powers, conducts sweeps
Inciting terrorism charge used to attack rights
BY TONY HUNT
LONDONUsing the pretext of the need for security since the July 7 bombings in this city and the failed attacks two weeks later, the authorities here staged a massive deployment of police July 28. Some 6,000 cops, including some carrying submachine guns, patrolled streets, Tube (subway), bus, and train stations. It was one of the biggest-ever deployments of armed police in London.
In the following days a stepped-up police presence remained and stop-and-search powers were implemented.
We will have to strengthen, in the next year, the firearms capability of the Metropolitan Police, said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair. Government officials have also pushed for measures targeting bookstores that sell publications inciting terrorism, as well as other steps aimed at increasing police powers and restricting the rights of working people.
Dozens of armed police raids have taken place in several cities around the country since July 7. At the time of this writing, the police have arrested 37 individuals in connection with the July 21 failed attacks. Of these, 21 have been released without charge.
A series of armed raids were mounted July 29 in London resulting in several arrests of men and women, and one man was arrested in Rome by Italian police. Two of the arrests, in west London, were televised live. The men were forced to leave their apartment naked by armed police after being tear-gassed. One of the individuals arrested in Birmingham July 27 was shot with a Taser gun, which inflicts a 50,000-volt electric shock.
Government officials have announced they have arrested what they call the four main suspects in the July 21 attacks. Three of the four are reportedly British citizens born in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The fourth is a legal British resident originally from Somalia.
The SO19 armed police unit, which is trained by the SAS (British Army special forces), was in the forefront of these raids. It was the same unit that killed Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian-born electrician, in south London. The cops chased him into a train station and shot him eight times at point blank, including seven shots to the head. Some of the initial statements made by the police to justify this execution have proven false. For example, the London Sunday Times reported July 31 that Menezes was not wearing a heavy coat but a denim jacket. He didnt jump over the ticket barrier but had a travel card, and may well have run because he heard a train coming.
Menezes was buried in Brazil July 29. One of his killers has been allowed to go on a family holiday, according to the press.
This officer must be brought back and show the world he did something wrong, said Alex Pereira, one of the murdered worker's cousins. Seeking to smear the dead man ahead of an inquiry into the shooting, government officials claimed he was staying in the country using forged documents.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Anthony Blair received support from all the capitalist parties for new laws that threaten political rights. One of the proposed measures would target extreme publications, bookshops, and web sites that are deemed to incite terrorism. Under another proposal, phone tap evidence would be allowed in court. Blair has supported a measure allowing police to detain suspects without charges for longer than the current 14 days. Cops want to detain individuals for up to three months in 14-day spells with the approval of a judge.
Condemn UK shoot-to-kill policy