Thursday, July 28, 2005

Second Thoughts on London Shooting

Mark Steyn makes some interesting points in this column, some of which I find more convincing than others. So does Gary McGath. The initial picture I had of how the shooting went down was largely premised on de Menezes realising that the people waving guns at him, and shouting at him to stop, were in fact legitimate policemen, something that may not have been all that clear if they were in plain clothes and did not identify themselves. But it is one fact that Steyn supplies that gives me most cause to change my mind. One of the main reasons given for why the police suspected de Menezes is that he was wearing a bulky overcoat, in the heat of summer. In Israel, that has emerged as a major warning sign for someone carrying an explosive belt, and in fact every year when winter rolls around there is always concern that this makes it easier for suicide bombers to blend in.

But Steyn points out one thing that I had not seen elsewhere, and that, in retrospect, I should have at least suspected: the temperature in London that day was about 17°C /62°F and overcast. Now for London that may count as a hot summer day, and in that weather I go around in a T-shirt, with a jumper tied around my waist just in case it turns chilly. I certainly wouldn't be wearing a thick fleece jacket, as de Menezes, I gather, was. But, as Steyn points out, de Menezes was from Brazil, and back in Gonzaga, if the temperature ever drops that low, I imagine they do break out whatever passes for cold-weather gear, shiver around the campfire, and worry about global cooling and the coming Ice Age. So for him to be dressed like that might not have been that remarkable. There also seems to be some question over whether his jacket was in fact bulky enough to be useful in hiding an explosive belt (though I wouldn't put a whole lot of trust in this particular source).

Related links:
Wikipedia
Dafydd ab Hugh

UPDATE (21-Aug-05): As we now know, the story that emerged immediately after the shooting was complete bullshit. De Menezes was not wearing a bulky jacket, he did not run from anybody - identified police or not - he did not jump the barrier, and the only running he did was when he saw his train pull in, as I'm sure dozens of other people did too. The man who shot him should be prosecuted.

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