Various posts and comments I have read over the past few days appear to argue that our police service is institutionally murderous, untrustworthy, and naturally racist.
The Tottenham family of Mark Duggan demand ‘justice’ to be done at last, a phrase which makes it sound as though the police regularly dispatch black youths ‘gangland style’ on a Saturday night. Not half as often as their friends do, is my response.
I am frequently reminded that ‘John Charles de Menezes was held down and shot in the head seven times’ as though this is evidence of the murderous inclinations rampant in our police force.
Yes, he was held down and shot in the head. By policemen who at the time had every reason to believe that he was a suicide bomber who had just entered a crowded tube station with a backpack of explosives.
I am fully aware that this belief turned out to be erroneous, but this was not the fault of the man who held him down, nor the man who shot him.
Let us just consider the case of the ‘murderous bastard’ who held him down.
Rail at the faults of the higher command behind him by all means, but let us at least give credit to a brave young man who, believing he had hold of a suicide bomber who might implode at any moment, failed to run off screaming for the nearest safe hidey hole, but kept hold of him, in the full belief that he was risking his life, even as another policeman was firing rounds into de Menezes
That takes courage and dedication to the cause of protecting the public. That doesn’t suddenly turn a decent young man into a ‘murderous bastard’.
What about the man who fired the bullets? Do you imagine that he does this for fun? If the truth was that he actually took pleasure in killing people then I imagine he may well have sought out a career that gave him more opportunity for satisfaction that the Metropolitan Police. Drug Dealer perhaps, or Club Bouncer in Los Angeles?
A suicide bomber that you believe about to implode and who is currently grappling with your colleague is not the time to hold an intense navel gazing exercise, it is a time to do whatever needs to be done.
Ask yourself the question – what would you have done in the same circumstances – you are armed and charged with protecting the general public, your colleague is grappling with a suicide bomber who may reach the detonator at any point. Would you be doing your duty if you said to yourself ‘Ah but there might have been a cock-up behind my back, I’ll take the chance that he doesn’t blow up this train, I won’t believe what I’ve been told, it might be wrong, I’ll wait for the inquiry…….’
Ian Tomlinson – Yes, the Met should not have put a young man with a notoriously short fuse and a history of violence into that unit. But they did. Yes, you can argue that all police officers should undergo training to understand the difference between a truculent and disobedient member of the public in the middle of a near riot situation and a shambling drunk who may well have suffered a minor stroke. But they didn’t. Yes, Ian Tomlinson shouldn’t have been struck like that – but it was an unfortunate set of circumstances – and negligence on Simon Harwood’s part – that he died as a result of that truncheon strike. Shouldn’t have happened. It still isn’t evidence that we have a Police Force full of ‘murderous bastards’.
We don’t yet know the full truth of the encounter between Mark Duggan and the Policeman who shot him dead.
It was part of Operation Trident, an incentive which was begun specifically at the request of the Black community in Brixton, horrified by the brutal murder of Marcia Laws in 1995.
Delroy Denton, a gun toting Yardie drug dealer had slashed her throat 18 times. At his trial he was branded a ‘sex fuelled psychopath’ and ‘premier league danger to the public’. He was only at liberty to commit the horrendous murder because of his willingness to inform on his fellow Yardies and thus was of assistance to the Met.
We can argue as to whether such a dangerous man should have been at liberty, or whether the Met had no choice other than to sup with the devil if they were to infiltrate the close knit Yardie community, until the cows come home.
What we do know is that on Thursday night, a young man was sent out to make a pre-planned arrest of a man who was known to be a gun dealing member of the Yardies. He was put in a uniform and given a gun to protect himself – and us – from the sort of individual, like Delroy Denton, who has been responsible for the deaths of dozens of young black youths.
On 17 July, 2006, police officers from Southwark Borough’s Operation Hamrow seized a Fiat Punto car in Peckham. In the boot was a black rucksack containing a MAC 10 machine gun capable of firing up to 1000 rounds per minute, three pistols, silencers and ammunition including 62 ‘hollow point’ bullets which are designed to explode on impact. Alongside this haul there was also a quantity of gunpowder, 60,000 fake ecstasy pills, a solid block of cocaine worth £5,200 and a Halloween mask, gloves and a balaclava.
Such are the charming individuals we expect young police officers to face.
We don’t know for sure whether Mark Duggan was the individual they planned to arrest, or merely in the company of such an individual. We don’t know for sure why shots were fired – but I am quite sure it wasn’t because the Met harbour men who kill for pleasure or simply ‘because they can’.
I am amazed that we can still find young men who will take the option of standing up to psychopathic individuals like Delroy Denton on our behalf instead of staying home on the dole or taking a cushy job somewhere flogging washing machines – we do them a great disservice to take the glib route of referring to them by the generic ‘murderous bastards’ when things go wrong.
I say that as someone who is opposed to taking a life, anywhere, under any circumstances.
They deserve better; they deserve our support.