Killing in the London Tube: Brazilians Want Justice Not Apology

The media and political establishment have closed ranks following the death of a Brazilian man at the hands of armed police in London.

They have treated the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes as a regrettable but unavoidable incident. Sir Ian Blair, the head of London’s Metropolitan Police, said there would be no retreat from the policy of shoot to kill.

The politicians have asked “what if” Jean Charles had been a suicide bomber. But he was no suicide bomber. He was an innocent, hard working 27 year old electrician on his way to work.

The media have dealt in rumors and speculation about his background and the status of his visa, rather than demanding answers from our politicians about the killing.

Anger at the killing, and the lies that followed, spilled onto the streets of London on Monday, July 25. A group of Brazilians, some of them friends of Jean Charles, led a crowd hundreds strong through the streets to demand justice.

The impromptu demonstration began at Stockwell tube, south London, where Jean Charles was killed. A thousand people assembled at a vigil called by the Stop the War Coalition and built largely through word of mouth.

Nay, a Brazilian painter and decorator, shared a house with Jean Charles in 2003. He told Socialist Worker, “He was just a normal young guy who was happy to be in London.

“He was being followed by heavily trained police officers. Why didn’t they stop him in the street, rather than waiting for him to come into a crowded area. The police weren’t wearing uniforms – I think I would have run away from them.”

Sergio Chagas also knew Jean Charles. He said, “They didn’t give Jean a chance to say anything. It was a complete mistake to shoot to kill – it’s a stupid policy.”

Fernanda mocked the police’s claim that Jean Charles, who was wearing a jacket, looked like a suicide bomber. She told the vigil, “This was murder. Jean was killed for wearing a jacket in warm weather. An apology is not enough – we want justice.”

“If he had blonde hair and blue eyes he would not have been killed,” she added.

Many others joined the vigil from the area. Ali, who works at the bus depot in Stockwell, said, “I use this tube every day. At my depot three or four people have quit their jobs because they don’t feel safe. The government says all this is nothing to do with Iraq, but I think it is.”

His views were widely shared. As the vigil came to a close, angry Brazilians led people into the road at Stockwell and began to march towards the MI6 security services headquarters – seen as representing the British state.

They connected the death of Jean Charles with the war on Iraq, chanting: “No shoot to kill – troops out now” and “Their war – our dead”.

The police tried to block the march when it reached Vauxhall station. Protesters sat down in the road and were eventually allowed through to Vauxhall Bridge. Once there the police used force to prevent the march continuing to parliament.

Unanswered Questions

Why was Jean Charles targeted?

An address in a block of flats in Tulse Hill, south London, was found in one of the rucksacks used in the failed bomb attacks on Thursday of last week.

Jean Charles happened to live at a flat in the same block. He was followed simply because he had dark skin and wore a jacket in summer.

Why was he not stopped earlier?

If police believed Jean Charles was a suicide bomber they could have stopped him at any point during his journey.

Instead he was allowed to walk through a quiet area and to board a bus to Stockwell. Police only challenged Jean Charles when he reached Stockwell tube station.

What warning was given?

Jean Charles was approached by three armed police officers. The police officers were not wearing uniform and their screamed warning could easily be misinterpreted.

Eyewitnesses say police did not shout anything that would identify them as police. By the time they put on caps marked “police” Jean Charles already had his back to them.

Where do the lies and smears come from?

Five hours after the killing, the head of London’s police, Sir Ian Blair, was still claiming that the shooting was connected to anti-terrorism investigations.

Last week the Evening Standard splashed the headline across the front page – “Gun Victim: ‘His Visa Had Just Run Out’.”

This article appeared originally in the Socialist Worker –


  • Show Comments (5)

  • Andrew Milner

    Still of the same mind, boys?
    Need to savour this moment, because it’s so rare. But it looks like I was right from Day One on this. Sometimes I’m asked, more as a rebuke then a question, “How can you be right, and everyone else wrong?” I always have the same one-word answer: “Easily”. The name’s Humble. That’s spelled H U M B L E, pronounced, Humble.

  • Guest

    Andrew Milner
    An off-the-record comment by a senior Metropolitan Police officer was that there was more to be revealed, to the detriment of the Met.
    What could be worse? The police lies have come unraveled. Through their media whores they tried to blacken Mr. de Menezes’ name, but it backfired on them. So despicable to denigrate a dead innocent, thus to mitigate culpability. The media whores that knowingly did this are the lowest form of animal life.
    What’s more dirt could there be?
    – Police death squad was not Metropolitan Police.
    – Police shooter meets with unexplained death, suspicious suicide (would virtually eliminate the need for a trial).
    – Mr. de Menezes was deliberately targeted for assassination. Remember he worked as an electrician on the Underground network, and electrical surge was part of the 7/7 attacks. “The Man Who Knew Too Much?”

    If Met. Police Chief Sir Ian Blair (unfortunate coincidence) resigns now he might just get to keep his knighthood.
    Never let it be said that I have been disseminating half-baked rumours.

  • Guest

    The Pot Calling the Kettle Black
    Brazilian police target black and brown men to shoot in the head so now the UK targets “Middle Eastern” or darker skinned men to shoot in the head. Same difference.

    A Brazilian who is considered white and thus free from police brutality in Brazil goes to a Nordic country and is now fair game.

    Brazilians cannot complain about the British police until they clean up their own racist profiling and police brutality against brown and black.

  • Guest

    Police was acting dumb
    London police was acting as foolish as one could possibly be. They said they were following him right from his home, they were not decisive enough to stop him before getting onto the bus, they were not deicive enough to stop him before entering the tube-station and all of a sudden they thought its time to take a split-second decision, lets kill him. Can you believe this is police? Anyone can act more wisely than they did. And worst of all, they shot him 5 times in the head while I think a single bullet in the head is enough to bring down a bull, and he was only a human.

  • Guest

    You stupid asses wanting the heads of the police in the shooting are a bunch of dumb asses. You guys take responsibility for public safety, and if anything happens then your ass goes to jail.

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