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Year 2005 No. 103, August 2, 2005 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

JEAN CHARLES DE MENEZES – 7.1.78-22.7.05

Protests against the Deliberate Police Shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes

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Protests against the Deliberate Police Shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes

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JEAN CHARLES DE MENEZES – 7.1.78-22.7.05

Protests against the Deliberate Police Shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes

Following the police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes on Friday, July 22, Lambeth Stop the War Coalition called a Peace and Solidarity Vigil at Stockwell tube station at 6pm on Monday, July 25. The mood was one of anger at the killing, and well over 300 people participated.

Tributes to Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell
Tributes to Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube

Among the many speakers, who all spoke with a passion, was Hani Lazim of Iraqi Democrats against Occupation. He spoke out against all unjust killings of human beings, including Jean Charles, as well as those who are being and have been killed in Iraq, Palestine and London. Other speakers included a representative of Stockwell Green mosque; a Christian priest; Andrew Murray of Stop the War Coalition; representatives of Stop the War Coalition in the borough of Lambeth, which includes Stockwell and parts of Brixton; and a number of people from the Brazilian community.

Dozens of people from London’s Brazilian community had also gathered outside Scotland Yard to voice their anger at the shooting, under the banner of "No More Police Executions", as they had gathered outside Stockwell tube a few hours earlier on July 24.

A demonstration of residents of Gonzaga, Minas Gerais state, in Brazil on July 25 also protested against the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. The hundreds of Brazilian protesters said that the apologies of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw did not go far enough, while Menezes’ family blamed police incompetence for his death. The Landless Rural Workers’ Movement also demonstrated on July 26 in front of the British Embassy in Brasilia and the consulates in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, demanding justice. Jean Charles’ family denies the allegations that he was living illegally in Britain, pointing to the fact that he visited Brazil earlier this year, and that it would have been impossible for him to go back to London if he were not there legally. Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim has emphasised that the fight against terrorism must be conducted with respect for human rights.

One week after the killing, hundreds of people gathered for a Memorial for Jean Charles in Parliament Square, called by the Menezes family. The Vigil was followed by a Mass in Westminster Cathedral in central London to remember his life. The Mass was led by Father Frederico Ribeiro, the chaplain to the Brazilian community in London. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, described the shooting of Jean Charles as a "grave error".

The Mass was held in conjunction with the funeral service of Jean Charles de Menezes in Brazil. As many as 10,000 people gathered in Jean Charles’ home town for his funeral, in grief and anger over the killing, it was reported. Banners denounced Britain for the killing. "We Want Justice," said one sign. Another read: "Jean – Martyr of British Terrorism". People in the crowd released dozens of green and yellow balloons into the air, the primary colours of the Brazilian flag.

In an official statement, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegation by British authorities that Jean Charles de Menezes probably had a forged visa stamp in his passport. The statement said: "Without entering into the merits of the latest information, it is the understanding of the Brazilian Government that it in no way alters the responsibility of the British authorities." The statement demanded that the legal status of Mr Menezes have no bearing on the investigation into his death or compensation for his family.

The Menezes family, according to reports, continues to dispute British police claims that he was wearing a heavy padded jacket when he was shot, that he vaulted the station’s ticket barrier to run away from police and that he was in Britain illegally. They also want to know why, if British police considered him a potential "suicide bomber", they let him board a bus before confronting him.

Nick Hardwick, the chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, who is overseeing the investigation into the death of Jean Charles, reports say, called on the Home Office to stop issuing "partial information" after government officials released details about Mr Menezes’ immigration status. He asked people to "shut up" until his independent investigation had established the facts.

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Also one week after the killing, simultaneously with the Vigil in Parliament Square, a Memorial for Jean Charles was held at Stockwell tube station of Brazilians and other concerned people from the local community. This took the form of a "roda", led by Mestre Carlo, of the Brazilian people’s fight-dance Capoiera, accompanied by singing and the music and rhythms of berimbaus and tuned and untuned percussion, in memory and respect for the life of Jean Charles. One of the participants explained the origin of the Capoiera in the culture of the slaves taken from Africa to Brazil, and that it can be said to embody the spirit of the small ordinary people uniting to fight and overcome the big and powerful. It is planned to hold such a manifestation on a monthly basis from now on.

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