Jul 24 2005
The news that the man shot dead in the London Underground was not a terrorist is a result I had feared initally might come to pass, as anyone can tell from tell from reading my initial post. I had been relieved at one point to hear the man was connected to the bombings. But late yesterday the news broke this was tragic mistake
Police identified the man who was chased down in a subway and shot to death by plainclothes officers as a Brazilian and said Saturday they no longer believed he was tied to the recent terror bombings.
Friday’s shooting before horrified commuters prompted criticism of police for overreacting and expressions of fear that Asians and Muslims would be targeted by a “trigger-happy culture” after two well-coordinated attacks in two weeks.
Police expressed regret for the death of the man at the Stockwell subway station, identified Saturday as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27. Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him about five times in the head and torso.
The police involved no doubt feel terrible about the incident, but at the same time the suspicious actions and reactions only a day after the second bombing attack in a few weeks gave them reasonable cause. What we do not need is a blame the government tirade. They are being asked to protect millions of people in wide open, crowded, public areas. And the people in these areas need to understand that security forces are only trying to stop a real threat, not some hypothetical myth.
Want the terrorists to win? Then fall upon each other when things like this happen. When mistaken reactions on both sides lead to tragedy because the terrorists have been able to terrorize. At every point in this long war against these fanatics, free people of the world have to decide how to respond and react. We can respond to this tragedy with sorrow and deep felt sympathy for the victim and his family, with a call to redouble our response training and to learn from this event. This is one more in a long line of tests we will face. Because, unlike the fanatic terrorists, we know we are only human and not some perfect emmissary from god. We will make mistakes along with our truimphs.