t Double Yellow's Musings: Innocent Shooting in London
The warped mind of Double Yellow craves for humor everyday. His daily dose comes from The Straits Times, The Sunday Times, Today, Channelnewsasia, etc. He also thinks that because of this preamble, this blog will never get featured in the local media. And of course, please read the Disclaimer before embarking on the journey.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Innocent Shooting in London

I am disappointed with the Singapore blogosphere. When the London terrorist bombings took place on July 7, there were tons of blogs that wrote about it. A few weeks later, there was an attempted repeat of the bombings in the London subway stations and again, Singapore bloggers penned their thoughts..... all condemning the act of terror, all attacking the loss of innocent lives. And for that, I think the Singapore bloggers have done well.

The British police have since increased security and launched a major manhunt for suspects. A few days ago, a man was shot – five times to the head – in a London tube because he was a suspected terrorist. And it is now apparent that he was NOT linked to the July 7 blasts at all. All in all, an innocent man was gunned down because of the overzealous efforts of the London Metropolitan efforts to thwart another attack.

Did Singapore blogosphere even care about this incident? Apparently not. A cursory check of the Singapore blogs which expressed outrage about the London bombings revealed this – NONE even cared to write about this incident…. why ah?

I was watching BBC when the news filtered in about a ‘suspected terrorist’ being killed in London. Eyewitnesses were asked to describe what they saw and the conversation went something like this….

Reporter: Can you tell us what you saw down there?
Eyewitness: I was in the north-bound train heading towards …… I saw police officers chasing a man into the tube. He was carrying a haversack……
Reporter (cutting the eyewitness short): Can you describe the man for us?
Eyewitness: Well, he was short, wearing a sweatshirt, baseball cap…
Reporter (interrupting the eyewitness again): Did he have dark skin?
Eyewitness: yes, he had dark skin. He was Asian....

It turns out that the man was NOT even carrying a firearm, let alone a bomb. He was shot five times in the head without warning. And surprise, surprise….the victim turned out to be a Brazilian. His mistake – he wore a coat on a hot summer day and ran when he saw the police. But dude, if someone runs when he sees the cops does NOT mean he is a terrorist. And of course, as you can see from the BBC news report, his ‘mistake’ was also that he had dark skin. So today, if you have dark skin, wear an overcoat and run in the London subway stations, you are bound to get shot in the head without warning.

The Londoners only have their Metropolitan police to thank that this rash act will spawn more terrorists. All the London police commissioner could say was that he "regretted" the incident and was sorry that it happened. I mean like, wtf??!! I thought regretting the ‘peanut comments’ was bad enough. The Brazilian man's family is in mourning and all the police commissioner can say is sorry?

And to the Singapore blogosphere, it is indeed disheartening that while we are concerned with the lives of innocent Londoners, the life of an innocent Brazilian hardly disturbs us. Its time we realize that an innocent human life is equal irrespective of whether its lost through a terrorist bomb or a police assassination.

P.S: I can’t seem to find any travel warning issued for London by all the major superpowers in the world, unlike what they did when a terrorist bomb went off in Bali. Why ah?


Anonymous world-weary said...

you raise a valid point DY...the bombings were horrendous, as was the shooting of the 'suspect who wasn't'... it isn't the first time the powers, seeking to redeem what they can, have gone after the wrong man, non-existent weapons etc...

1:40 AM  

It has been a few hours and I have already seen people wearing the 'DON'T SHOOT I AM NOT A TERRORIST" T-Shirt on the subway, and I started thinking, if the brazilian boy had been wearing one of those, he probably would still be alive...a shirt that can actually save your life. The shirt can be found here if you are interested: http://www.cafepress.com/00ps.26920531

2:38 AM  
Anonymous straydog said...

Besides this, I've raised another point on my blog as to why this incident has more coverage than the Egypt bombing.

3:11 AM  
Anonymous Illegally Blonde said...

Horrific incident - truly frightening. They apologised to his family eh? - if that had happened to my loved ones I would not be accepting any apology.

All fair and well to be cautious, but shooting an innocent person to death is not helping the situation.

Would they not have been better off evacuating the train and station as a precaution, rather than shooting him in the head five times?

3:50 AM  
Blogger Sally G said...

This recent shoot to kill in the UK is scary and I agree that this is tragic and I feel for the family of the Brazilian man but these police are trained and 'what if' he had of been a suicide bomber and had killed everyone on that tube train? What would you say about the police then?

He jumped the barrier and ran. Why?

I live in London and have been affected by the recent terrrorist attacks and feel a little happier that our government and the met police are taking this seriously. It is very unnerving place to live at the moment.

4:25 AM  
Blogger Harish Mallipeddi said...

i just want to clarify to some of the comments wich someone called sally g has made...

Sally g asks:
He jumped the barrier and ran. Why?

Hey what behavior do u expect of someone whos been chasing by three guys (who happened to be 'plain clothes' policemen) carrying guns and yelling at him? The policemen inspite of being plain-clothed didn't even care to identify themselves before shooting him. And why would anyone shoot 5 shots? Doesn't that sound a bit saddistic?

5:25 AM  
Anonymous gerald said...

Damn. You got us there..

5:31 AM  
Blogger zeenie said...

i have no idea and am ashamed at my own procastination to write about it.

5:52 PM  
Blogger doubleyellow said...

world-weary, yeah... its disheartening that the powers-that-be can get away with screw ups like this..:(

dont-shoot-i-am-no-terrorist, thanx for the link, looks cool !!

stray dog, yeah...went to your site and so ur entry. Funny eh, how diff media chooses incidents that advance their 'agenda'

illegally blonde, agree that no apologies would satisfy the family of the innocent victim. i cant believe that the authorities still swear by the shoot-to-kill policy even after this

harish, thanx for replying to sally's comments. i agree. sally, i would say that its a sad day when we kill the moment we spot 'irrational' behavior. the fact that the ran instead of giving up doesn't justify the killing.

zeenie, pls do write about it. and do send me the link if you do :)

7:21 PM  
Blogger Preetam said...

Agree with you on the travel advisory. I always get irritated when websites like lonely planet put a big "warning" note next to the destinations in Asia but fail to do so when it happens in the west.

5:17 AM  
Blogger doubleyellow said...

hey preetam, it irks the hell outta me too. i'm surprised that none of the non-western countries too did not issue a travel advisory. looks like none of them dare to...

so far the only '3rd world' country i hv seen who can stand up to the antics of the U.S. is Brazil. I can never forget how Brazil decided to photograph and get fingerprints of all U.S. citizens in retaliation :)

5:37 AM  
Blogger A Zhaki said...

Perhaps they will do the same for all British citizens then.

I'll admit I wasn't too concerned when I first heard the news because some of the initial reports were fingering the man as being connected to the botched second wave of bombings.

It strikes me as odd though that the police would continue their shoot to kill policy after this incident. Especially since, for one, one would expect they would want to know more about the terrorists and to capture and question him would be much more beneficial to that end.

To think that British police don't even regularly carry firearms... and this is what happens when they are armed.

7:41 AM  
Blogger tausarpiah said...

on advisories:
the bali bombings were directed at australian tourists, the egyptian bombs went off in the only resort israelis can enter without a visa. so countries issue travel advisories to warn their citizens who are clear potential targets. the london and madrid bombings are seen as attacks on "homeground", inside jobs. i can see why what people call "western states" think travel advisories are pointless.

as for the met police, it is horribly tragic that something like that happened. i fully understand why the poor brazilian ran - he must have thought he was about to be robbed (it's london/stockwell after all). but i also fully understand why the police shot. "it's either i land a few shots on one man, or the one man lands a bomb killing 20+ people again". why bother blaming people? blame the idiotic terrorists who wreak havoc with our lives and create such ironic arguments amongst ourselves.

11:23 AM  
Blogger doubleyellow said...

hey zhaki, agree that they shd not continue the shoot-to-kill policy. i read one news report that the brazilian was a suspect coz he was seen coming out of the same residential building as some other suspects. I wonder why they wait till he got to the subway station...?

wows, i beg to differ. The Bali, Egypt, London and Madrid bombings all targeted citizens of 'western countries'. Hence if travel advisories shd be issued to all of them. If a repeat of the London bombings happen and an American (for e.g.) is one of the victims, the U.S. govt need to kick themselves in the ass for not issuing a travel alert. As to the police shooting, pls see my comments to zhaki - they shd have taken him down a lot earlier.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

As I noted in my own blog [serandez.blogspot.com], which it is unlikely anyone here has seen unless they got lucky on the 'Next Blog' button as I have:
"To try and twist the issue into whether or not the man was a terrorist is idiocy: If out of every ten men in the same situation, just one turned out to be a terrorist, one would essentially be saying that they are willing to allow dozens or more to be murdered because of the fear that they may make a mistake. One cannot allow their fears of being wrong to cloud their thoughts: It is far more logical to risk the death of one suspected individual than the lives of hundreds of innocents. This is especially true in instances such as the one in London. The man there was dressed in an extremely unusual manner, was acting suspiciously, and ran when the police tried to stop him. What possible reason can one give that would outweigh the risks that such a person poses to the lives of everybody else!?" "[As to the five shots to the head, I was not there; but I would assume that no more than 2-3 was from any single officer, and officers are taught to shoot more than once at a time in case they miss. This is especially true where the suspect may have a bomb, which even a spasm might detonate. People have a tendency to think that what they see in the movies is what happens in real life. In reality, officers don't have 20 seconds of slow-mo to determine that their first shot killed the suspect. The 5 shots could very well have been fired in less than 2 seconds from 3 guns.]"

11:42 PM  
Blogger doubleyellow said...

ezzie, the fact that the man was behaving suspiciously is NOT reason enough to kill him without warning. Also, the reasoning that its ok to kill one innocent man rather than risk the killing of more innocents is also flawed.

The British police needs to get their intelligence correct before they pull the trigger. If not, in my book, they are guilty of assasinating an innocent victim.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I did not say it is okay to shoot an innocent man, nor that it is not regrettable that this man was shot. However, police must have a shoot-to-kill policy if someone is a possible terrorist suspect. When someone is wearing a heavy overcoat in the middle of summer, and then proceeds to run from police, jumping a turnstile, they are a prime suspect. Can you live with your conscience more if you shoot the man and he turns out to be innocent? Or if you don't and he blows himself up, killing 20 other people - perhaps your neighbor, your wife, or your child.

12:54 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

PS Thanks for the comment on my blog - I do believe it is the first comment I've gotten from someone whom I have no connection to... I'm a bit new on the blogosphere and I find it quite interesting to see a broad variety of viewpoints.

12:56 AM  
Blogger doubleyellow said...

hey ezzie, i'm prob as new to blogosphere as you are..:) no probs abt the comments.

the case of the innocent brazilian being shot in London only goes to prove that when someone is wearing a heavy overcoat in the middle of summer, and then proceeds to run from police, jumping a turnstile, they should NOT be considered a prime suspect.

The British police, especially the intelligence, need to do their homework better.

1:51 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Ah - this is where we disagree: "the case of the innocent brazilian being shot in London only goes to prove that when someone is wearing a heavy overcoat in the middle of summer, and then proceeds to run from police, jumping a turnstile, they should NOT be considered a prime suspect." The police cannot take the approach 'maybe he is not a terrorist.' The police must take the approach 'maybe he is'. While in a perfect world, police would be able to research and find out whether or not someone is a terrorist, such is not the case in the real world. While cases such as the Brazilian man's are tragic, they are the exceptions rather than the norm. Terrorists [and regular criminals too] would take incredible advantage of policies that restricted police from acting on instinct. Imagine if a terrorist knows he may be caught - he would be able to run to a crowded place and set off the detonator because the police's hands are tied until he basically sets it off. Again, the same Q: Can you live with your conscience more if you shoot the man and he turns out to be innocent? Or if you don't and he blows himself up, killing 20 other people - perhaps your neighbor, your wife, or your child.

2:56 PM  
Blogger doubleyellow said...

hey ezzie, think i too can see the point where we disagree :) i think the question ...

"Can you live with your conscience more if you shoot the man and he turns out to be innocent? Or if you don't and he blows himself up, killing 20 other people - perhaps your neighbor, your wife, or your child. "

is unfair because i can pose the same question back to you as..

"Can you live with your conscience if the innocent man/woman who was killed by the police happens to be your neighbor, your wife, or your child? especially if they do it on flimsy reasons of wearing a heavy overcoat in the middle of summer or proceeding to running from police or jumping a turnstile? especially if they do it on the pretext that it was remotely possible that your neighbor, your wife, or your child could have killed 20 more innocent lives?"

9:25 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Ah - obviously, I can duck out of the question by answering simply, "My wife, my child, my neighbor would not be running from the police." But while you did pose the question wisely, my answer stands. I am sure that I would be personally devastated. I am sure I would be upset, be crushed, and question in every way possible why they felt the victim could be a dangerous terrorist. Once all those questions were answered, however, I would come to the same conclusion: Either they screwed up, and had no basis for assuming the victim was a terrorist - but had they, then they still should be shooting; or, they had good reason to come to the conclusion (as in this case), and they acted wisely. While there are instances in which emotions should trump reason, this is not one of them.
We would all prefer to live in a world where these dilemnas do not exist; but as they do, we must make choices that are for the greater good. This sometimes results in tragedies, such as the one here; but that does not mean the policies behind them are faulty, nor even less than perfect. We must recognize that these are difficult times, and call for difficult measures - and that those measures have been forced upon us by those who are trying to destroy us. Sometimes this may cause strife and tragedy, but more often it will help prevent them.
Let's be fair and combine our two examples: Someone I am close to and a terrorist are both shot and killed. How can I turn and say that this is a terrible policy? That my wife was murdered for no good reason? How can I turn to all those people in the subway and tell them that they should have died, so my wife could be spared!? Could you?

1:31 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

For a good example of a time I just wrote about when heart should matter, click here.
I forgot to mention that this is another reason, in addition to a number I've given, why profiling is good policy. It is more likely to reduce possible mistakes such as the one double yellow has raised.

1:40 AM  
Blogger doubleyellow said...

hey ezzie, good to see your reply.

Profiling: While profiling is good, i think it needs to be done on a much broader basis than just skin color, thickness of overcoat and haversacks..... coz richard reid, the British terrorist who tried to blow up the Air France flight over the Atlantic would NOT have first this profile.

Shoot-to-kill: I am not for this.... because the assassination of an innocent victim by the police will only lead to a backlash. If the innocent victim is a Muslim...trust me, the terrorists will use it as fuel to recruit more people. The shoot-to-kill policy has a risk of over-reaction on the part of the security forces. I think the use of a stun gun is good coz it only temporarily paralyzes the person and would not let him set off a suicide bomb...

2:01 AM  
Blogger Injenue said...

if you're stupid, you deserve to die.

7:54 PM  
Blogger doubleyellow said...

injenue...how can? like dat, there will no one left in the United States, Britain and er... Singapore :)

10:09 PM  

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