Tag Archives: Jean Charles De Menezes

Two Great Folk Songs on the Danger of Guns

Thinking about the ‘Bollocks To Nick Griffin‘ video I posted set me reminiscing about the Imagined VillageEmpire and Love‘ concert I attended in 2010.  Chris Wood is part of the collective, and before the main event he performed an acoustic set.  Among the songs was an amazing, chilling song about the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes. I did not realise until now that the track is called ‘Hollow Point’ and actually won best song at the 2011 Folk Awards.

I still remember the chill I felt when I first heard Chris sing the words “He never heard the footsteps behind him / by the bus stop at Tulse Hill”.  In that moment, what was an abstract story of an everyman trying to make his way in the world becomes a frighteningly specific narration of the final moments of one particular person.  The accompaniment is a simple acoustic guitar, but the lyrics build to an inevitable crescendo, just as the CCTV footage we have seen of De Menezes on that day builds to the inevitable, appalling, unseen dénouement down in the carriage. Continue reading

Shooting Jean Charles

The Met are on trial for breaching Health and Saftey legislation, when they shot the innocent Jean Charles de Menezes seven times in the head. The phrase “no shit, Sherlock” comes to mind, although it is surely inappropriate for a case where the detectives were, without question, shit.

Here’s Cressida Dick’s rather pathetic testimony on her role in the shooting:

“Secondly, from the behaviours that had been described to me – given that I thought they thought it was him – it could, very, very well be him.

“The behaviours that were described – the nervousness, agitation, the sending of messages, the telephone, getting on and off the bus – added to the picture of someone potentially intent on causing an explosion.”

This is shocking, not least because the actions described by DAC Dick, those that persuaded her that Mr de Menezes should be “stopped,” are precisely those actions I indulge in every day. A “nervous, agitated man sending messages” is exactly what I look like on pretty much every morning on the way to work. And who, in their lives, has not had a senile moment of indecision at a bus stop?

More seriously, the entire affair is shocking because of the low burden of proof that was required for the state to take someone’s life. The fault lies not with the officers who carried out the shooting, but with the decision to put such an ill-advised “shoot to kill” policy into the field at all. Who made that decision, how, and when? Only when this question is answered, and that person brought to account, can we begin to explain an attone for this terrible, avoidable death. And until this happens, every one of us in this democracy remains collectively responsible.

We should stop worrying about what kind of bullets were used in the incident, and focus on who was putting out misinformation in the immeidate wake of the killing, and subsequently.  That line of enquiry might lead us to the person who had made a decision that they did not want to take responsibility for.