November 30th, 2019
I was most surprised by all the confusion that ensued on the London bridge yesterday. An individual, possibly two, had shot some pedestrians, or maybe it was motor vehicle-ists as they were crossing the bridge late Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)Friday afternoon. The confusion lasted late into the afternoon and even into today.
It makes one wonder how, in the most surveilled city in the world, that one cannot get a decent picture of what happened Friday. There are approximately 500,000 CCTV cameras dotted around London. It is also a well-known fact that the average person living in London is on camera 300 times in one day; an individual doesn’t need to go far without being caught on a recording. So how does so much confusion abound over such an incident?
As it turns out, there was indeed one attacker on the bridge. He had a fake explosive vest strapped to his chest. He also had two knives taped to both of his hands. As two women and one man remain in the hospital, two have been found dead after being stabbed. Their names have yet to be released.
The London Police force, also known as the Met, has identified the London Bridge attacker as Usman Khan, a 28-year-old man released from prison on a license (parole) in December 2018 after spending eight years in jail for terrorism offenses. Herein lies the reason for the confusion. A friend of mine on a Police force in Germany told me recently that it is against the policy in most European police units to identify any criminals or suspected criminals by their ethnicity or nationality.
People are so afraid in Europe and increasingly in the USA of being labeled as Islamophobic that they will skirt any mention of anything that might associate someone with a Middle Eastern or Asian descent. My friend told me it has made finding suspected criminals incredibly tricky. Their crime reports will read something like “late twenties male is wanted for robbery.” He said that it just doesn’t narrow their search down enough even to begin looking.
What is the answer? I admit that people begin to associate certain types of behavior with specific kinds of people. Profiling people based on their color or ethnicity is a slippery slope, …and just not right. Our societies need to find a way to balance the need to prevent crime, apprehend criminals, and maintain equitable treatment of its citizens. It is clear that technology is not the only answer. What good does it do to be able to monitor situations, but then not have the ethical or moral tools to be able to interpret what we are seeing?
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