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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Is it only me who thinks shooting people for no good reason is wrong?

Guidance issued to armed police officers by the Association of Chief Police Officers, which was revised five months ago, states: "A police officer should not decide to open fire unless that officer is satisfied that nothing short of opening fire could protect the officer or another person from imminent danger to life or serious injury."

The officer, from Scotland Yard's SO19 firearms unit, is thought to have shot the suspect in the head because he feared a shot in his torso might detonate any device the suspect may have been wearing, and to have opened fire several times to make sure the man could not activate any bomb.

The Muslim Council of Britain said that Muslims were concerned about a possible "shoot to kill" policy. A council spokesman, Inayat Bunglawala, said: "There may well be reasons why the police felt it necessary to unload five shots into the man and shoot him dead, but they need to make those reasons clear."

Well I think that says it all really. Unless those reasons are clear there can be no other conclusion to draw other than our nation is really and truly losing the plot. A few weeks ago, if a man had been chased by policemen until he had no other option than to surrender, then shot in the head at point-blank range multiple times, there would have been uproar - not only in the media but amongst the general public. Yet because of the attacks of July 7th we, normal, civilised people are somehow managing to find mitigating circumstances strewn amongst the carnage at Stockwell yesterday.

If the man was, indeed, as speculation would have it, carrying a device that he could easily have detonated and which posed a real and immediate threat to the lives of those around him, I might be persuaded that there was a modicum of justification for the act. Nevertheless, as Scotland Yard has so far failed to disclose any information on this topic (something which baffles me, given they are responsible for unnecessary killing if the facts state otherwise), my thoughts and emotions at this point are at best shocked, at worst livid. And extremely scared.

It seems this is a turning point for Britain. News of CIA members bursting into people's homes and shooting them dead for no good reason has long been part of our psyche, courtesy of Michael Moore, amongst others. But for us on this side of the pond it has been no more than a distant reality, something our crazy Yankee cousins did. Now it seems, overnight, it is to be part of our culture.

And what it worse is that it has been accepted - already. It is not just the fact that a man was gunned down when he was powerless to resist yesterday, it is the fact that five shots were fired. This does not seem, to me, like shooting to kill, shooting to eliminate a threat to our lives. It seems to me like a vengeful, angry act. And this act is one that many would welcome with open arms. Add to 30,000 hate emails sent to the Muslim Council of Britain within hours of the attacks of July 7th and the bombing of mosques the comments of one user on the Guardian Newsblog: "Great stuff. We need more shootings."

If we're not careful, what happened two weeks ago is going to become an excuse for cold-blooded murder. That is, if it hasn't already. If Scotland Yard do indeed produce evidence that what they did was justifiable, that "nothing short of opening fire could protect the officer or another person from imminent danger to life or serious injury", then I will concede this. However, what worries me is that now, while we have no evidence as yet to show this, the general mood is that what they did was acceptable, that it is 'now necessary', that because 56 of our loved ones were murdered we can start killing everyone else's. That, surely, is not a war against terror, or its perpetrators. It is a philosophy of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."


  • Good to see you posting again, despite being in total disagreement... :-)


    By Blogger Tom, at 8:07 pm  

  • yes, really good to see you posting again. And a well-written comment. Let's wait for the outcome of the inquiry into what happened. In Brazil, the lad who held up the onibus 174 in Rio was suffocated by several policeman, all recorded on film, who have been acquitted for his murder!!!

    By Blogger Cora, at 12:43 am  

  • It's good to see you posting...

    By Blogger Tim, at 5:25 pm  

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