A month has passed since police shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27 year old Brazilian, at Stockwell tube station, south London. But questions about the shooting remain as urgent as ever.
“Every day we discover more and more lies. We have heard too many. We simply demand truth and justice.”
These were the words of Jean Charles’s cousin, Alessandro Pereira, when he attended a vigil at Downing Street on Monday, August 22.
The family – and millions of people in Britain – want answers about the shoot to kill policy, introduced by police without public debate or parliamentary scrutiny, and an apparent cover-up of crucial details about the killing.
While the political establishment has closed ranks around the chief of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair, Jean’s family have continued their fight for justice.
Alessandro handed in a letter to Tony Blair on Monday which called for Jean’s killers to be brought to justice.
Afterwards Alessandro told journalists that, in addition to their demand for a prosecution, “the family call for a full public inquiry into all the circumstances surrounding the death of my cousin, including the shoot to kill policy and the lies we have been told by the Metropolitan Police.”
Helen Shaw, co-director of the justice organisation Inquest, also attended the vigil.
She told, “There must now be a public inquiry that looks at everything that has gone wrong in this case.
“There is a shift towards a more armed police force, but there has been no public debate on this question or on the policy of shoot to kill.”
Over 300 people attended the vigil in support of the family, with about 150 joining a subsequent march on New Scotland Yard.
A botched surveillance operation. Failure to identify the main suspect. Seven shots to the head at close range and an innocent man lies dead, mown down by the Metropolitan Police.
This isn’t the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, but that of Azelle Rodney, a young black man killed by armed police in west London on 30 April.
The disturbing similarities don’t stop there. After Azelle’s death false rumours started appearing in the press, claiming he had a gun (he didn’t), or that he was a drug dealer (he didn’t even have a criminal record).
Azelle’s mother Susan Alexander joined the de Menezes family at the protest outside Downing Street held on Monday of this week.
“I’ve written letters to Ian Blair demanding the suspension of the officers responsible for pulling the trigger,” she said. The Met has declined this request.
“In Azelle’s case nobody was accused of being a terrorist. But everything else is almost duplicate: the way they carried out surveillance, the way they took someone down when they had ample time to arrest or restrain him.”
Azelle’s death is now being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Susan has a list of 53 questions surrounding her son’s death that she wants answered.
Published originally in Socialist Worker – www.socialistworker.co.uk.