Tag Archives: murder

Horrors Unfold in Iran

Video of a protester murdered in post-election violence in Iran. Hidden behind the cut because it is quite horrific. Be aware if you click you’ll see video of a dead body, killed by the Iranian Basij militia. Today pro-Mousavi protesters have been drenched in acid. Where will the violence lead?

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Belittle Homophobic Hate Speech Will You?

It’s interesting the number of complaints there have been in the last few days at the government’s attempt to remove the ‘free speech’ clause relating to incitement to homophobic hatred legislation, passed last year. They were however successful:

The government has defeated an amendment in the House of Commons that would have created a defence of “free speech” in a bill that is designed to criminalise incitement of hatred in relation to sexual orientation.

Campaigners including the Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson and the gay actor Christopher Biggins had argued that the clause relating to hatred in the Coroners and Justice Bill could limit freedom of expression and could lead to prosecutions over gay “jokes”.

The Coroners and Justice Bill is being used to remove an amendment to legislation passed last year that allowed the “discussion or criticism” of sexual practices last year.

The amendment that was defeated today by 154 votes, would have effectively re-instated the defence of free speech.

I actually have some sympathy for that argument. However that sympathy is tempered by the recent demonstration of just how little acknowledgment there is in the criminal justice system of homophobia. Murdered gay teenager Michael Causer‘s other killer was found guilty this week, but only sentenced to eleven years in jail. By the time he’s out he’ll be a bit over 30 – that’s nothing. What was  striking was the judge dismissing the killing as a hate crime, even though the police and all witnesses knew it to be one:

In court, Mr Justice King said O’Connor had not acted out of homophobic motives, instead describing him as “ignoble” and “cowardly”.

However, he added that O’Connor had not been solely responsible for the crime.

Homophobic hatred is real, it’s omnipresent and it’s a killer. The law isn’t anywhere near enough as it stands even for judges to take homophobic motivation for murder as meaningful. It must be clear, it must be unrestricted and demonstrate that inciting or acting on hatred for gay people, merely for being who we are, will not be tolerated by the law. As little regard as I have for this government, I appreciate the stance they’re taking on this. Michael Causer will not get justice, but maybe finally starting to mainstream the unacceptability of homophobia might improve the odds at least for justice being done in the future.

Brandon McInerney’s Father Dies

The LA Times reports:

The father of an Oxnard teenager accused of gunning down a gay classmate who was romantically attracted to him has been found dead, Ventura County authorities said today.

Bill McInerney, 45, was found shortly before 8 a.m. in the living room of his Silver Strand home by a friend, said James Baroni, Ventura County’s chief deputy medical examiner. The friend was supposed to drive him to a court hearing in his son’s murder trial, Baroni said.

Very sad. Just at the time his son needs him the most. Whilst it’s unacceptable that Brandon should have killed Lawrence King, homophobia that violent does not come out of the blue. To try him as an adult is to continue the brutality his father may already have inflicted on his life, but it’s hardly surprising. The US still has not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – one of just two UN member states not to do so.

CPS Says Metropolitan Police Allowed to Murder

The inquest jury into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, famously barred from giving an unlawful killing verdict for undisclosed reasons, at least were able to make clear that based on the abundant evidence presented to them, that they considered the Metropolitan Police marksmen who killed him to be liars. The clear implication of such an indictment was that they committed murder and committed perjury to cover it up. Perjury at the very least is a serious criminal offence, certainly for cops with guns – particularly one with a penchant for using them, but today the Crown Prosecution Service said they didn’t care:

Stephen O’Doherty, the lawyer who led the CPS review, said: “I have now concluded that there is insufficient evidence that any offence was committed by any individual officers in relation to the tragic death of Mr de Menezes.”

The officers, known as Charlie 2 and Charlie 12, told the inquest they had shouted a warning at Mr de Menezes and he had continued moving towards them.

But passengers at the inquest had said this was not the case, and the jury did not accept the officers’ accounts.

Mr O’Doherty said: “Although there were some inconsistencies in what the officers said at the inquest, there were also inconsistencies in what passengers had said.

“I concluded that in the confusion of what occurred on the day, a jury could not be sure that any officer had deliberately given a false account of events.

Except the jury was sure that both men had knowingly lied; they were also clear that whatever inconsistencies may have been present between all witness accounts, that they still flatly contradicted those of the killers. The justifications that Charlie 12 gave under oath for killing him were acknowledged by the jury to be lies, so the question is begged – why would the CPS find that Charlie 12 wasn’t at the very least guilty of perjury?

De Menezes: Police Cowardice or Incompetence?

I’m amazed at the low standards to which the Metropolitan Police are being held, and the degree to which commentators are choosing to defer to police ‘fear’ or ‘bravery’ in examining the death of Jean Charles De Menezes, when the inquest jury determined their account was based on incompetence and lies. Why should it matter that suicide bombers had finally acted against London? I expect the police to behave in the same, cool, evidence-based manner at all times because that’s what they’re trained to do. I don’t expect CO19 officers to run into a tube station, with little information, garbled commands, and to kill innocent people with no warning and no chance to identify themselves ever. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone would have you believe:

Cressida Dick (w)as the “most talented” officer he worked with.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Mr Livingstone said the police officers made mistakes because of the “unbelievable” pressure they were under.

Ms Dick, who was in command of the operation and subsequently promoted, has “commissioner potential” he says.

Now ‘pressure’ is an excuse to write off a human life. Can someone tell me how Dick is ‘commissioner potential’ when she changed her orders multiple times, allowed De Menezes onto the train, and never properly articulated what ‘stop(ping)’ him meant? And is ‘pressure’ a justifiable excuse for surveillance officer ‘Frank’ to have made a spotty initial identification of De Menezes as ‘European’ (which his features were), having been distracted by a call of nature, but to then to change his mind to being unsure if he was failed suicide bomber Hussain Osman, despite there being no resemblance whatsoever? For a lay person, terrified of the potential suicide bombing wave perhaps, but a trained surveillance officer?

Was it fear, pressure or bravery which allowed the surveillance team on the train to either  misidentify De Menezes as Osman or fail to inform C2 and C12 otherwise, when other passengers on the train confirm they had plenty of time to determine De Menezes clearly wasn’t dark-skinned in appearance (approx 5 mins in):

And what about the surveillance officer on the bus whose positive identification of De Menezes as Osman legitimised C2 to open fire when he eventually arrived? Could fear or pressure have caused him not to notice that De Menezes was Caucasian (which Osman was not)?

“I heard over the radio that there was a surveillance officer on the bus and I heard them say ‘this was definitely our man’.”

When asked what else he heard as he pursued the bus in a silver Mercedes with two other firearms officers, he said: “I heard over the radio that he was nervous (he wasn’t), acting strangely (he wasn’t) and that he was standing up in the stairs acting very twitchy (he wasn’t).”

C2 said it was the greatest threat he had faced during 17 years as a specialist firearms officer.

He said: “I have been in the firearms unit for a number of years and we have never faced a threat like that.

“It occurred to me that it was very likely, sooner or later, that we were going to have to confront these people and, if it all went wrong, we were aware the consequences were huge.

“It did occur to me that I might not get home if it all went wrong.”

Or maybe he never said it at all:

One of the firearms officers told the jury he heard surveillance officers positively identify the suspect over the radio. The surveillance officer in question contradicted this in court.

And then there’s the above video, which reports that C2 said his actual reason for opening fire was De Menezes getting up from his seat (he did) and approaching him in a threatening manner (he didn’t). Maybe it was fear or pressure which caused him to shoot him anyway, but if that’s true, wouldn’t that have justified him shooting pretty much anyone? Is that what we’re really saying, that a highly trained police officer should be able to justify trigger-happiness through ‘fear’, ‘pressure’ or ‘bravery’ (via the spin of their colleagues)? And if, as the jury maintains, he did lie about De Menezes’ movements (and bear in mind with then-Commissioner Sir Ian Blair’s deliberate obstruction of the IPCC from investigating immediately all participants in the killing had time to confer and indeed change evidence) doesn’t that mean he shot him for no reason? Can that be justified by the context in which they were operating? Hugh Muir says:

Let’s look at what the judge decided. He said no reasonable person having heard the evidence could conclude that what occurred was murder. That’s surely right. Whatever happened underground at Stockwell, there was no malice aforethought. It was a horrible and scary time. Those of us who live in the capital well remember it. People had died on 7/7 and had been maimed in the most horrible circumstances and the talk was of an immediate repetition, of young men queuing up to martyr themselves. The context is important.

I don’t agree. If I were let loose with a gun the context would be everything, yet these were supposedly highly trained firearms officers. They should and must be held to the highest possible standards at all times. When does gung ho become malice? When do unchallenged racism and trigger-happiness become murder or manslaughter? When does arriving inexplicably late mean you rely on more than a single, uncorroborated (and by then dated) confirmation of the subject’s identity before opening fire? Isn’t malice aforethought an execution without any reason? Yesterday afternoon however the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Crown Prosecution indicated their level of interest in pursuing charges of perjury against the officers:

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said Ms Wistrich’s call for a perjury inquiry was “wrong”.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it had not received any referrals in relation to perjury charges.

A spokesman for the police watchdog said: “It is wrong to construe that there has been possible perjury from the findings of the jury because they were asked to decide on the balance of probability.

“The jury could not indicate whether they believed certain witnesses were mistaken or lied.”

Erm they answered the Coroner’s question – did C12 issue an ‘armed police’ warning? No. Did De Menezes stand up when confronted with the kill team? Yes. Did he approach them in any way? No. All the police said all three statements were true, the witnesses said otherwise and the jury agreed. No perjury? Really?

“Noone set out that day to kill an innocent man,” said Sir Paul Stephenson.

Yet by the end of the day Jean Charles De Menezes had been killed, the Metropolitan Police had initiated a cover-up of the truth and started smearing his name to justify their actions. Cowardice, incompetence or something more?

The De Menezes Whitewash

So the verdict of the De Menezes inquest is in: an open verdict.

The jury has said that, after the option of unlawful killing was inexplicably withdrawn from them by the coroner Sir Michael Wright, that the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes was not lawful, and that the Metropolitan Police firearms officer C12 who fired on him lied when he claimed to have shouted ‘armed police’ before opening fire in 2005. Now I may be naive here, but that sounds an awful lot like murder, cover-up and perjury – so why would the coroner refuse to allow an unlawful killing verdict?

The intrigue exploded into the open today, with the revelation of a gagging order imposed by the coroner when he began summing up last week:

These decisions began a week of escalating tension that exploded into open hostility between the family and the court and resulted in the relatives withdrawing their legal team and their cooperation.

“It is increasingly clear in the last week that the coroner’s impartiality has simply disappeared,” said Jasmin Khan of the Justice4Jean campaign. “That is one of the reasons why the family felt they had no choice but to withdraw their cooperation.”

The relatives had hoped the jury would be told of their decision to withdraw before they retired to consider their verdicts, but the barristers for the police and the coroner agreed that only the blandest of statements about the absence of the family’s legal team could be given to the jury.

The coroner had earlier ordered the public and the media to leave the courtroom while he completed his summing up to the jury last week, giving no reason except to say he had reached a “sensitive” point in the hearing.

When the public refused amid repeated requests for clarification of his ruling, there was a standoff for an hour and 40 minutes. The public refused to leave and the coroner refused to return to court.

At one point the team of bouncers with walkie-talkie microphones on their shirt cuffs who had been hired to provide security at the inquest were seen huddling in a corner. “We can’t use violence, that’s clear,” one was overheard saying.

Eventually the coroner’s orders were upheld and the public, including supporters of the family, left the court.

The relatives were held back by security guards and kept out of the courtroom while barristers, police and the coroner filed in. Having lost all faith that those inside would honour the principle that “justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”, they attempted to storm into the courtroom.

Bizarre. But the jury was unmoved by Wright’s incredible manipulations, and clearly did everything it could to confirm legally that De Menezes was murdered:

The jury found that the firearms officer, C12, did not shout “armed police” before shooting De Menezes and that the Brazilian did not move towards him aggressively, prompting the fatal shot.

De Menezes’ Death: Lawful?

Seriously. The coroner of the inquest into the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes by the Metropolitan Police in 2005 said today that jurors:

would be allowed to return only a verdict of lawful killing or an open verdict.

With all the evidence considered, a verdict of unlawful killing could not be supported, he said.

After consideration and submissions, he told the 11-strong jury, “I so direct you that the evidence in this case, taken at its highest, would not justify my leaving verdicts of unlawful killing to you.”

Wright explained: “I’m not saying that nothing went wrong in a police operation which resulted in the killing of an innocent man.

“All interested persons agree that a verdict of unlawful killing could only be left to you if you could be sure that a specific officer had committed a very serious crime: murder or manslaughter,” Reuters reported him as saying.

Sorry?! Have I missed something?

The jurors will additionally be asked to consider four questions, including whether C12 did indeed – as he told the inquest – shout “armed police” before opening fire; whether De Menezes then stood up from his seat; and whether the young Brazilian moved towards C12 before being grabbed by another officer.

The firearms officer testified that after the warning had been shouted, De Menezes’s actions had made him fear the electrician was carrying a bomb. Several passengers on the same carriage contradicted this account, saying they had heard no warnings, and that De Menezes gave no significant reaction to the police’s arrival.

However, Wright added, even if the jury found the officers had lied, they would not be able to blame them for the death. “Many people tell lies for a variety of reasons … [including] to mitigate the impact of what might be a … tragic mistake,” he said.

I beg your pardon? It’s cut and dried that the police lied through their teeth. The only credible implication of that would be that the shooter or the shooter in collaboration with other members of his team murdered De Menezes. Cressida Dick told the incompetent officers De Menezes was allowed onto the train, but they changed evidence to cover it up. At the inquest she then perpetuates the lie about challenging De Menezes. And the opinion on UK Liberty to me feels about right:

But what concerns me is that any member of the public might act just as de Menezes did, and even though his actions are entirely innocent, because of the situation the police are in and the information they have been given, anything he does might contribute to forming an honest belief that he is a threat, and he may wind up being killed.

Can someone then tell me why an unlawful killing verdict is impossible? The surveillance teams didn’t know who he was for sure (I’ve spoken to members of the family and they confirmed he looked nothing like failed suicide bomber Hussain Osman) and were given confused and confusing directions from their control, regularly making horrifically flawed assumptions about him. The kill team was out of position and out of contact until far too late, and it’s widely acknowledged that they lied in saying any warning was given to De Menezes himself. Seventeen fellow passengers corroborated this fact. Based then on thin air they then shot seven bullets into the entirely innocent man’s head. How can any of that be lawful?!

Colin Stagg Defeats The Met

In 1992 Rachel Nickell was walking her dog with her young son on Wimbledon Common. She was sexually assaulted and stabbed 49 times right in front of her child, in an horrific, daylight murder. The Metropolitan Police, always eager to ‘work together for a safer London’, and unable to find a credible suspect, descended on local loner Colin Stagg and decided he must have done it. They had heard he was on the Common that day, and based on the conclusion of criminal profiler Paul Britton that Stagg had the same “sexually deviant-based personality disorder” as the killer, decided without any actual evidence that he was a good enough fit for the culprit. Britton was also asked:

to help design a covert operation – based on what he knew of the killer from the profile – aimed at testing whether the suspect would eliminate or implicate himself.

This ‘honey trap’ was designed to trick an ersatz confession out of a very weak, suggestible man. As London Mayor Boris Johnson describes:

So desperate were the Met to inculpate this loser that they organised a honeytrap of surreal absurdity, in which a young blonde policewoman took the alias of “Lizzie James” and tried to engage Stagg’s interest. She met him, made much of him, and then started to write him letters in which she encouraged him to share a secret desire to kill young blonde women. She informed him that she had once killed a child and a baby in a black magic ritual. Was that the kind of thing, wondered “Lizzie James”, that turned Stagg on?

The bewildered Stagg tried to cooperate as best he could with this beautiful woman and her appalling fantasies. It may have added to his creative difficulties that he was then still a virgin. After “Lizzie” had sent him a particularly torrid and gory account of killing blonde women, Stagg attempted rather lamely to reply in kind. “I hope that was to your satisfaction, Lizzie,” he wrote at the end of one painful composition. “I’ve written the story on the lines of what I feel you are into.”

It is unbelievable that the police could have decided to rely on this as “evidence”, let alone think it enough to bring a prosecution.

Stagg was on remand for an entire year, before the trial judge, Lord Justice Ognall, threw the case out. Britton’s profiling was discredited, and the judge said the Met:

had tried to incriminate a suspect by “deceptive conduct of the grossest kind”

Yet the Met persisted in their belief that he had done it, despite advice Britton has since claimed he gave them to link Nickell’s murder with the later, equally brutal murder of another young mother, and revealed:

that the undercover operation (had been) presented to a top-level police meeting where it (had been) given full approval.

“My first question was, ‘Is this legal?’ What the police said echoes for ever: ‘Please don’t concern yourself with legal issues,’” said Mr Britton who still advises British and overseas police.

He also suggests that if the further advice he claims to have made about the earlier Green Chain rapes had been listened to, the Bisset (and Nickell) murders would never have happened. But:

The month after the (Nickell) murder, Napper was taken in for questioning about the Green Chain rapes after a tip-off from a suspicious neighbour, but he was released after he persuaded detectives they had the wrong man. He offered to give a blood sample, which would have determined his guilt, but failed to turn up and provide the specimen and was never chased up by officers.

It took until November 2007 for Robert Napper, already in Broadmoor for the Bisset murders, to be arrested for the murder of Rachel Nickell, this time with forensic evidence amongst other, credible suggestions of guilt, and Colin Stagg has now won £706,000 compensation. There could be few victims of the Metropolitan Police more deserving. Yet again a man’s life was destroyed by their incompetence, their eagerness to presume guilt without evidence, to cut corners, and their willingness to pander to the worst tabloid excesses. Nick Cohen shows the terrible parallel to be drawn with the Met’s response to the London suicide attacks, their killing of Jean Charles de Menezes and their continuing spin of it in the aftermath:

The debacle came about because of an over-cosy relationship between police and reporters. It doesn’t do either side any good because the off-the-record briefings and anonymous comments from ‘senior officers’ look bad when a case collapses. If Sir Ian Blair is forced to resign because of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, what will have done for him is not that the police made a mistake – people can accept that – but the unattributable claims from nameless spin doctors that they had killed a guilty man.

Ermine Saner is all too right when she says:

Stagg deserves some very public apologies: from the police and others who were convinced Stagg was guilty. From defaming authors who have made money from him and from every person who has ever spat at him in the street or hurled abuse. And definitely from certain newspapers (it would be tempting to think the press had learned its lesson but the recent experience of Robert Murat shows that nothing has changed). Then, perhaps, at last Colin Stagg really can get on with his life.

Yet not if the very same tabloids, which Saner and others identify as having bayed for his blood, have their way. The Daily HateMail it seems hasn’t changed its position at all.

The Murder of Michael Causer

On July 25th Michael ‘Mikey’ Causer was attacked at a party and then had his head literally beaten in in the street outside. He suffered terrible head injuries merely for being gay and on August 2nd he died of them. Of course the mainstream media has barely noticed – after all it’s safe and easy being gay these days. We have gay marriage in all but name, we have gay equality legislation covering the provision of goods and services, gay adoption, in short near-full equality before the law, so this must just be an exception, right? Pride marches in London have become mere spectacles for straight tourists, and marketing opportunities rather than political statements that we are defiantly gay, reminding those who still hate us that we are everywhere, that we look like them, work with them and are related to them. Yet in a neighbourhood famous for the murder of Anthony Walker, also different from the local white, straight, working class norm, Mikey was 18 and gay, out and proud of it. Iris Robinson would have seen him as an abomination and offered him therapy, yet surely the only abominations here were homophobia and murder?

And where does such hatred come from? Well these people may offer a clue:

Lord Tebbit, a leading right winger in the 1980s who has been an outspoken opponent of equality, told the Daily Mail:

“Every statistic shows that children grow up more likely to do well in school, stay out of trouble, and have a happier life if they have both a male and female role model.

“Too often we look at these things from the point of view of the adult rather than the child. I think that adoption by homosexual couples is unsatisfactory for the child.

“What homosexual people choose to do under their duvets is up to them, but the example they set to children is of interest to society as a whole.”

Homophobe Norman Tebbit, once Margaret Thatcher’s right hand man, speaking perhaps with more coded hate, but still making it clear his belief that being gay is unacceptable and somehow (without showing how) dangerous for children to be exposed to. He’s wrong of course – every statistic and piece of research shows the exact opposite – that it’s the quality of the parenting, be it a heterosexual or gay couple or single person, which determines a child’s success. He may be as much a raving loon as ever, but (as he his acutely aware) he still speaks for many and legitimises their bigotry. Then there’s the Archbishop of Canterbury, resolutely punishing gay Christians for the homophobia of their fellows:

Rowan Williams said practices in certain US and Canadian dioceses were threatening the unity of the Anglican communion.

“If North American churches do not accept the need for a moratoria [on same sex blessings and the consecration of gay clergy] we are no further forward. We continue to be in grave peril,” he said.

Williams has tried to cover himself in recent days, by revealing that as an individual he remains extremely liberal, and indeed supportive of gay people and gay partnerships. Yet as Archbishop of Canterbury he’s now completely ignoring Bishop Gene Robinson and siding with gay haters like Archbishop Peter Akinola. Which position do you think sends out the louder message?

What about the Vatican?

Quoting from a key document on Anglican and Catholic relations he (Walter Cardinal Kasper) said: “Homosexuality is a disordered behaviour. The activity must be condemned; the traditional approach to homosexuality is comprehensive … A clear declaration about this theme must come from the Anglican Communion.”

It’s accepted by the mainstream of society that homosexuality is not a disordered behaviour. Every major psychological organisation has accepted this for decades now, and although politics in the West is a more recent convert, most Western politicians (many increasingly gay themselves) now agree too and are including gay people under the banner of diversity and equality. Yet as Gene Robinson said the other week, it is the Church which remains most effective at determining hearts and minds, and the Vatican desperately wants all Christians to believe that being gay makes you not quite human. Well that belief has consequences.

Not all politicians are supporters of the diversity agenda however, and there remain exceptions who consider their religion trumps their secular commitment to equality. Iris Robinson, MP & MLP, keen ‘defender’ of the faith, is stidently keen to make sure that we know that gay people are worse than murderers and child abusers. She too may come across as a complete loon to most, but in her position of responsibility (after all she’s an elected representative) she’s also representing and legitimising the beliefs of a significant minority. She hasn’t been removed as chair of Stormont’s Health Committee and hasn’t been censured by her boss (and husband) Peter, a failure which sends out a message at least the equal of hers.

Anti-gay hate doesn’t come from nowhere – it’s transmitted. Outrage! and the Queer Youth Network issued a joint press release, offering perhaps a deeper analysis of the origins of the hate which killed Michael (and Anthony):

“Anthony Walker and Michael Causer and their families were not only victims of Racism and Homophobia, they had their lives destroyed by something that is ravaging every aspect of our society. Sadly the events in Huyton over the past few days is proof that young people from our poorest, most marginalised sections of society are the victims regardless of the cause. It’s also to remember that the perpetrators themselves along with their families.”

“I understand there a number of high profile campaigns such as Stonewall’s much publicised ‘Education for All’ that receive a great deal of public and private sector funding as well as income generated from delivering training to tackle the issue of homophobic bullying, but are they working?” their impact is still limited to a handful schools and tend to be dominated by London based organisations and politicians who have jumped on the Homophobic Bullying ‘Bandwagon’ for their own gain.” (Pauline Ellis) concluded.

“I would like to see Sir Ian McKellen other high profile campaigners who opened people’s eyes to intolerance in the past such as Michael Cashman, Angela Eagle and Lord Waheed Ali to reach out to working class communities and talk to young people in the street.” “In the 1990′s they bravely fought against the biggest concern facing LGBT Youth at the time – Section 28, a threat written on paper. People began to think twice about attacking us. Today’s threat is written very clearly, in blood. Fighting violence carried out in the name of homophobia is now a matter of life or death.”

Whilst it would be a mistake to say that murderous homophobia and racism only breed in poor and deprived communities, there’s no denying that the area itself has terrible social problems, of which the Walker and Causer killings are a symptom.

It’s also a question I’ve wondered for some time – can a political lobbying organisation, already hugely successful in changing the law, succeed in changing attitudes as well? Stonewall has come across at a distance and up close, as a middle class organisation, staffed by professional middle class people, without a huge incentive (or ability) to reach out across the social classes and races. It was why Ian McKellen’s appearances with Bishop Gene Robinson a few weeks ago came across as so important – each framed their respective roles in an overall strategy for changing laws and minds (it was notably Robinson who could change minds). Well they too have to put their money where their mouth is and turn this nascent alliance into something which can bring about results.

The police have now added:

“Michael and those charged with the offences against him and those currently on bail were known to each other and had been together in a house in Biglands Drive, Huyton during the course of Thursday evening and Friday morning.

“The initial assault upon Michael took place within this house.

“The incident was reported to police and ambulance at 11am on Friday 25 July 2008 when Michael was admitted to Whiston Hospital with serious head injuries.

“Contrary to speculation, I can confirm that this was not a random attack of a young gay man walking in Knowsley.”

While the minority rights organisations celebrate their marketing successes, whilst singly failing to change attitudes where it counts, and the Churches wring their hands about homosexuality in their own institutions, young people are being murdered. Apathy made Mikey Causer’s murder happen and I don’t see anyone lifting a finger to change it – politicians, Churches, lobbyists and community organisations need to start working together – the DNA database, CCTV, 42 days’ detention without charge, RIPA legislation and prohibitions on the ordination of out gay clergy are political smokescreens, while genuinely vulnerable people like Mikey get no real protection from the real threats at all.

Three men remain mystifyingly free on bail, in a country whose national media remains resolutely disinterested, and whose gay community remains unaware. Pauline Ellis reminds us all:

“It’s very easy for the increasingly comfortable and apathetic gay community to blame working class youths for this latest attack, but having partnership rights and a few extra equality laws is not an excuse to abandon the ongoing fight for gay liberation.”

Jean Charles de Menezes Memorial

At 10:03am on 22nd July 2005 Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by the Metropolitan Police, the day after an attempted second wave of suicide bombings on the London Underground. He was mistaken for a suicide bomber he didn’t even resemble, was never challenged, never questioned, never had the chance to identify himself, yet upon sitting in his seat on his tube train into work, he was attacked by multiple members of a Met kill team who simply held him down and shot seven bullets into his head. Later in the day Sir Ian Blair reported that he had been wearing clothing resembling a suicide bomber, had run into the station upon being challenged, thus justifying what was still an erroneous killing. None of that was remotely true.

De Menezes was the first victim of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Kratos – a shoot-to-kill policy to be used against suicide bombers, borrowing from Israel’s example of killing first and asking questions later. Yet instead of apologising or explaining, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair instead tried to block the initial inquiry:

Sir Ian Blair personally ordered that independent investigators be denied access to the scene where an innocent man had been shot dead by police after being mistaken for a suicide bomber, it emerged yesterday.

The commissioner of the Metropolitan police wrote to the Home Office to block an independent investigation into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell tube station on July 22. By law the Independent Police Complaints Commission should have been called in by the Met to investigate the case.

During the later health and safety prosecution against the Met, they doctored photos of Jean to suggest there were similarities between him and Osman, said there were traces of cocaine found in his body (irrelevant if true) and that he had overstayed his visa illegally. It was an entire drip-fed campaign of character assassination, no doubt designed as a last gasp attempt to justify the killing in the public’s mind.

The Met was found guilty in said trial, and the Stockwell One Inquiry by the IPCC listed numerous fundamental failings by the force, including the still-unexplained four hours it took for the firearms team to arrive, and the oddly contradictory orders of then Commander Cressida Dick. Surveillance logs were even altered, yet none of the officers involved in his killing has had disciplinary action taken against them, despite the guilty verdict against the Met. The inquiry also criticised:

(then Commander Cressida) Dick for failing to make it clear that her instruction to “stop” De Menezes did not mean that she wanted him shot. It was revealed that she missed part of a briefing because she was sent to the wrong room and she had been unaware how far out of position a firearms team vital to the operation had been.

De Menezes was followed from a south London address police believed was used by a terrorist suspect. He was supposed to be stopped by elite armed officers, but despite being ordered to get to the scene at 5am, they took more than four hours and were out of position and unable to stop De Menezes until he entered the underground station.

A bunch of armed and incompetent, trigger happy Met thugs then murdered Jean Charles de Menezes in cold blood:

The report says “it may be of significance” none of the 17 passengers heard any police warning, adding: “There is significant doubt as to whether they shouted this in the carriage.” All eight police in the carriage claimed the warning was given.

Incompetence, murder and corruption. We can only hope that the upcoming inquest will provide even a meagre measure of justice for him and his family. The photos are mine, and are of the third anniversary memorial of his death, at events both at Stockwell tube station and the Houses of Parliament. The folder can be accessed separately here.