Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

JEAN CHARLES de MENEZES -- The Color of His Skin, The Content of His Character

by suskind Wed Jul 27th, 2005 at 06:34:52 AM EST

From the "I have a dream" speech of Martin Luther King, 28 August 1963:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

In the case of Jean Charles de Menezes he was misjudged, by the color of his skin... he was described as "Asian" so ... a likely target. What does this mean for "Asians" living in London today?  And he was misjudged by the content of his character.  This was no terrorist on his way to plant a bomb.  This was a 27 year old electrician on his way to work.

His jacket was too warm for the weather, by London standards, but Jean Charles found the weather cool.  And he left an apartment house that was, suspected as housing men related to the London bombings.  Today's Independent says that an Ethiopian and a Somalian are under surveillance.  Will the Special Police be able to tell these nationalities... or will they target more Brazillians?  Now, more than ever, "people of color" means "people under suspicion."  What kind of world are we living in?

His fate was apparently decided by a cruel combination of improbability: that, used to the heat of Brazil, he should find a cool Englishsummer's day too cold for comfort and wore a bulky jacket; his skin colour might have made him appear Asian to his pursuers; and he shared a communal entrance to a block of flats with a suspected member of the terrorist cell that carried out last Thursday's failed attack on London's transport system. Independent

Was Jean Charles given warning?  His cousin says he was murdered:

"his cousin, Alex Pereira, said: "He was murdered." Mr Pereira, 27, from Norbury, south London, disputed the account of Scotland Yard that Mr de Menezes was challenged by the pursuing plain-clothes police officers as he stepped off a No. 2 bus at Stockwell Tube station, about two miles from his flat  He said: "Jean had lived in Sao Paulo. It is a dangerous city and he knew the rules there ¬ if you run away when the police tell you to stop, then you are dead. He knows you don't run away and his English was perfect. There is no explanation for him ignoring a warning because there was no warning. Independent

There is a racist agenda underlying all rhetoric of the "evil jihadists"  I am not sure that the "terrorists" are Muslim at all.... certainly the people responsible for the Omagh bombing of August 15, 1998 in which 28 were killed and more than 200 injured and maimed were not Muslim.  The Basque separatists, what religion are they?

I am very worried about Police Actions of a Police State... where the enemy has not been defined.  Terrorists are anybody.... they are Timothy McVeigh and Richard Reid, white guys... the Una Bomber... white guy.... the subway poisoner.... Japanese guy.... they are anybody, but NOT everybody.... and intelligence is supposed to be used to find out who they are, and to locate them, to keep tabs on them, to know who they are, who they associate with, and what they are up to.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. ..... and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."  (Martin Luther King, 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C)

I trust the intelligence less of leaders who train their special police force in Israel, but do not train their forces in common sense, human and civil rights and human nature.  I trust less those armed and dangerouse security forces who would shoot a man in the head five to eight times, without even knowing who he was.  A 27 year old Brazillian on his way to work has become the symbol of what the special police force conceive of as one of the most dangerous people in London.

My solution:  take all racist and religio-facist language out of political language... starting with George Bush's Holy War declared on the Sunday after 911.  He has, more than once, declared Islam evil.  After the descration of the Qu'ran was uncovered (again) by Newsweek, Bush actually sent Condi Rice on a make peace mission, holding the Qu'ran and telling the people how much she and all Americans revered and respected the Holy Book of the Muslim people.... This kind of hypocrisy makes me quite ill.

Start the "war on terrorists" (not terrorism) with a war on Racism.  Racism out of our language and out of our ideologies.  Britain has a lot to teach the rest of the world about living in peaceful co-existence, but first it must correct its mistakes of the use of excessive force and complete failure of judgement in the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes.

I hope all people of conscience will appeal to the British government to begin an inquiry into the wrongful death of Jean Charles de Menezes.  And at the earliest opportunity to help the Menezes family, please donate to the cause of bringing their son's body home to Sao Paolo, and to contribute to his family... as that was all that concerned him when he was living.

To benefit families of those killed in the London bombings:

Red Cross London Bombing Appeal

Please contact the English Red Cross/Red Crescent and find out if a special fund has been set up to benefit the family of Jean Charles de Menezes.  (I tried all day to no avail)  Tel: 0870 170 7000

Racial profiling occurs in every nation and society. It is not unique to first world or third world countries, and it's part of fascism.

It occurs in macho culture of police and military organizations, where agression and violence is part of the job. It's also about power, abuse and rape of women.

It's courageous to touch topic in a diary. Having read your previous diaries on the London bombing, I agree with you, it played a part in the death of Juan Charles de Menezes.

Thank you suskind.

PS Even in a liberal society of the Netherlands, it's police organization has a macho culture which subdues the ability for females and Dutch born Moroccans/Turks to remain in the profession.


  • Sharm el-Sheik Bombs  London Bombing :: Perfect Timing

    Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
  • by Oui on Thu Jul 28th, 2005 at 09:22:19 AM EST
  • Brazilian killed by UK agents wore NO bulky coat,
        did NOT jump turnstile, had LEGAL visa ◊    
    by Shumard

    Brazilian did not wear bulky jacket
    The Guardian July 28, 2005  -- After a meeting with the Metropolitan police, Vivien Figueiredo, 22, said that the first reports of how her 27-year-old cousin had come to be killed in mistake for a suicide bomber on Friday at Stockwell tube station were wrong.

    Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead in the head, was not wearing a heavy jacket that might have concealed a bomb, and did not jump the ticket barrier when challenged by armed plainclothes police, his cousin said yesterday.

  • Ricin - Al Zarqawi - Bly Oregon - Niger @ EuroTrib


    Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

  • by Oui on Thu Jul 28th, 2005 at 09:23:49 AM EST

    Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]