Friday, June 12, 2015

Spying on the Victims

FAMILY of Jean Charles de Menezes held gathering outside Stockwell tube station where he was killed.  This was early in January, 2006. Below, the big guy on the left was using a big camera taking close-ups of faces in the crowd.

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes are going to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, using Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, on the right to life,  to challenge the decision by British authorities that nobody should be prosecuted for his death.

The 27-year old Brazilian electrician was on his way to work when he was shot dead by police marksmen on a tube train at Stockwell, on July 22, 2005. Some thought the way he was shot several times at close range suggested an army-style killing rather than police action.

They had supposedly mistaken him for a terrorist suspect they were pursuing for attempted bombings the day before.  The police story carried by the press was that Jean Charles had been wearing an unseasonal bulky coat, such as might be concealing a bomb or a weapon, and that he had vaulted ticket barriers in his hurry to escape pursuit and get on to the tube.

In fact Jean Charles was not wearing a big coat at all, just a light denim jacket, and he used his season ticket to go through the barriers in the normal way. An inquest held at the Oval in 2008 heard how police had been watching the south London block of flats where he lived, and followed him, although the man they were supposed to be watching had left London the night before and was out of the country. At one point a plain-clothes officer actually sat next to Jean Charles on the bus. When the electrician alighted at Stockwell he unknowingly passed two other police watchers as he walked to the tube.

Meanwhile, if any officer had any doubts that they were pursuing the right man, they could not get through. The communications officer in the crowded control room at Scotland Yard could not make himself heard above the excited din of those following the chase.

The inquest returned an open verdict.

Cressida Dick, the officer in charge at the Yard received a medal and was promoted acting Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. She is now Assistant Commissioner of Special Operations.    
Speaking about the family's decision to go to Strasbourg with the case, Patricia da Silva, a cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes said: "For 10 years our family has been campaigning for justice for Jean because we believe that police officers should have been held to account for his killing.
“Jean's death is a pain that never goes away for us.

 An interesting sidelight on this battle for justice is that while the authorities claimed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anybody over Jean Charles' death, the police did put in an effort to spying on the family and their supporters and friends. They were subject to surveillance as were the relatives of Cherry Groce, who was shot by armed police in Brixton, and Ricky Reel, the student victim of a racial attack.  A report acknowledged that the information collected by a controversial undercover unit "served no purpose in preventing crime or disorder".

The family and friends of Stephen Lawrence, murdered in south-east London, were spied on as they campaigned for justice. In fact, far more police work went into infiltrating and spying on their campaign than into pursuing the murder suspects. It is likely that one reason south London police were reluctant to proceed against Stephen's killers, besides institutional racism, was that one of the gang involved was the son of a professional criminal and police informer.

But more than one police force was engaged in spying on the Lawrence campaign.
"Greater Manchester Police has admitted that it spied on people attending the Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, making it the fourth constabulary known to be involved.
When the MacPherson Inquiry took place in 1998, it held a number of hearings outside London. A GMP memo was issued on 8 October asking for ‘information or intelligence on groups or individuals who are likely to be attending’ to be given to a Detective Chief Inspector in Special Branch.
The spying appears to have been motivated by wholly political concerns. There was no anticipation of any threat to public order, there is no suggestion of anything criminal, and the memo makes no mention of anything untoward.

Since there was no suggestion of illegal activity or threatened disorder from any of these campaigns, which were simply out to seek the truth and obtain justice, would we be unreasonable to suggest that what the police were after was any 'dirt' they could find or make up to try and discredit witnesses and campaigners, and cover up their own wrongdoing?

Trade unionists digging out the truth about blacklisting, mainly in the building industry, have come upon evidence that those compiling illegal files and selling information to employers were able to work hand in glove with police officers and undercover agents infiltrating the unions and meetings. So officers paid for by the taxpayer, including the workers, were being used to target workers who took up perfectly legitimate issues of safety and conditions, and help unscrupulous employers penalise them and their families by denying them work.

Environmental and other campaigns have also been targeted by undercover police, who went so far as to form relationships with women in groups they were infiltrating, and even father children by them, before disappearing on to other work. It is also well known that where campaigns are infiltrated, provocations and actions that land people in trouble with the law can follow. In perhaps the most notorious case an undercover agent named as perpetrator of a store bombing has been promoted and found an academic post.

While the government and tame media pretend that police need more powers for surveillance to protect us from terror, a campaign to raise public awareness of what the snoops and agents are really up to has been formed, and is promising new exposures coming along.

This is the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, COPS,


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