Monday, August 10, 2015
How COULD British police stand by and watch a boy drown in 6ft of water ...and why did they STOP bystanders diving in to save him?
At the height of summer, there are few more tranquil stretches of water than the lily-fringed Lee Navigation canal which meanders beside a marshy nature reserve in East London.
The depth is a little more than 6ft. Experts say there is a slight undercurrent, but during long dry spells, such as we are experiencing now, the flow is so slow that if you drop a twig from the King’s Head footbridge, it takes an eternity to float a few yards downstream.
In recent years, several people have fallen into the canal and have been rescued by passers-by, with comparative ease. According to locals, any half-decent swimmer could negotiate this gently winding creek without difficulty.
All of which makes the terrible tragedy that unfolded here several days ago deeply disturbing and incomprehensible.
On a beautiful afternoon, as people sunbathed, played games on the marsh and jogged and cycled along the towpath, a brilliant but troubled young sixth-former jumped from the bridge to escape a group of some eight or nine pursuing police officers after an incident at his home.
By all accounts, 17-year-old Jack Susianta was a competent swimmer but, for reasons we will explore, he couldn’t or wouldn’t try to save himself. For several agonising minutes, he just bobbed up and down in the muddy water, disappearing for long periods and emerging to gasp and splutter for air.
Incredibly, however, not one of the Met Police officers went to his aid, despite the increasingly desperate entreaties of the large crowd who gathered to watch. Instead, witnesses say, they simply stood on the bridge throwing life-belts and floats, which Jack didn’t even attempt to reach. The police also warned others not to go into the water.
And so, after struggling for a few minutes in plain sight of many people, a much-loved young man with a promising future was allowed to drown.
When one distressed local boat-owner asked a policeman why officers hadn’t jumped in, he got a depressingly predictable reply. ‘Health and safety,’ the officer told him.
In recent years, there has been a plethora of similar incidents involving emergency services. Hidebound by pettifogging regulations, police officers have refused to put themselves at risk by trying to rescue youngsters from ponds in Wigan and on Hampstead Heath.
In a jaw-dropping decision last week, the Crown even deemed Strathclyde firefighters within their rights not to descend a disused 50ft mineshaft into which a woman had accidentally fallen, and later died, because their duty was to save people from ‘structures’ such as buildings, and the hole wasn’t classed as a structure!
Even in an age where public service red-tape all too often takes precedence over the basic human instinct to save lives, Jack Susianta’s story has touched a raw nerve.
That much was clear from the outraged views of Daily Mail readers. One pointed out that ‘protection of life and property’ was meant to be a primary objective of the Metropolitan Police, as defined by its founder Sir Richard Mayne in 1829. Another suggested that police chiefs daren’t allow officers to risk injury for fear of being sued for compensation.
Having spoken to many witnesses to the drowning — which is under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) — I can assure you that the facts are shocking.
Shortly after 3pm on Wednesday, July 29, Jack, who was clearly in a disturbed state, was spotted weaving through shrubs, blood streaming from a gash in his hand. He was being chased by several police officers and appeared panic-stricken.
According to 42-year-old Fiona Okonkwo, who was walking her dog and witnessed events from start to finish, Jack tried to escape across the footbridge, only to find his path blocked by a second group of officers approaching him from the far bank.
Trapped and clearly terrified, he scaled the 5ft metal barrier guarding the bridge and leapt into the canal.
As a regular swimmer in my late 50s, I would like to think that I would have gone to his aid had I been passing by that afternoon.
Yet as Mrs Okonkwo will tell the IPCC investigators, the police decided against doing so. She says: ‘I kept saying, “What’s going on? He’s drowning down there! Is no one going to help him?” One officer said they couldn’t because the weeds could drag them under.
‘I couldn’t believe it. This is just a small canal with hardly any current. I’m not a strong swimmer but I went in myself last year, with some other people, to help a man who had jumped in intending to kill himself. We got him out without much trouble.
‘I wanted to jump in and help Jack, and so did others, but the police told us not to. They said they wouldn’t be responsible for our actions. It was awful. They could easily have saved this boy.’
Eventually, she says, one policeman stripped off his jacket, got into the water from a ledge beneath the bridge and paddled about for a few minutes, feeling around for Jack, before being helped back to the bank by a canoeist.
It was a belated and utterly futile exercise, though, because Jack had by then disappeared for more than five minutes.
It was not until 5.20pm, almost 90 minutes after Jack first entered the canal, that his body was recovered.
Another witness, mental health nurse Fred McGruer, 55, who lives a few yards from the bridge on a narrowboat, feels equally troubled.
Having also rescued a man from the Lee — a drunk who fell in — he was happy to brave the water, but ‘deferred’ to the police officers, assuming they had taken consideration of potential hazards.
Mr McGruer says they told him they could not enter the water for health and safety reasons.
Since blood was splashed on the cobbled approach to the bridge, and there had been a spate of sex attacks in the area, Mr McGruer thought that the police were perhaps holding back because Jack was a dangerous fugitive. The same thought struck an Italian who lives on a nearby boat. He wondered if their reluctance was because they feared he might be carrying a weapon. But he added: ‘In Italy, I think the police would have gone into the water.’
But Jack, as the police must have known, was not a criminal or a weapon-carrying thug. On the contrary, he was studying for A-levels in computing, maths and media at the local Mossbourne Community Academy, a top-performing school, and was from a loving and highly respectable middle-class family.
His mother Anna, 56, has been a headmistress of an inner-city school and now works as Cambridgeshire’s primary education adviser. Ketut Susianta, his father, is a businessman, and his brother Sam, 20, is at university. The family live in a smart, end-of-terrace house in Clapton less than a mile from the canal, which runs through Hackney.
Not only clever, Jack was also a sweet-natured, perpetually smiling young man — as was evident from the moving tributes and photographs now fastened to the bridge, alongside floral tributes, candles and personal mementoes.
His classmate Gary Onomuosiuko, 17, whom I found weeping beside this shrine, told me: ‘I will remember him as a nice guy to everyone.’
So why was Jack being pursued, frightened and bleeding, by the police? Understandably, his grieving family declined to discuss what happened and his behaviour remains a mystery.
However, it appears Jack had suffered a sudden psychological crisis. The previous day, his parents had reported him missing and he was then found by police and returned home, wearing no shoes.
Due to sit his A-levels next summer, he was expected to get good grades and didn’t appear under undue pressure at school.
Nor did there seem to be any romantic problems. And despite the inevitable speculation about drugs, Jack seemed far too sensible to take them.
In any case, that Wednesday afternoon he ran away again, smashing a window to escape the house — and once again the police were called. This time, they only succeeded in cornering him, like a startled rabbit, on the footbridge.
Those who saw the chase suggest the officers were insufficiently tactful, bearing in mind Jack’s fragile mental state. Mrs Okonkwo describes their approach as ‘aggressive’. She thinks that if they’d made a more subtle approach, then he wouldn’t have jumped into the water.
Fellow witness Fred McGruer, a psychiatric nurse whose judgment should carry some weight, agrees. ‘Why were eight or nine officers chasing a young man with mental health problems? Shouldn’t social services have been involved?’
These are questions that will doubtless be addressed by the IPCC, who must establish how Jack died and whether any of the officers were guilty of professional misconduct, or even ‘criminal action’.
Mr McGruer won’t blame any individuals. He says that, if asked, he will tell the investigators he believes Jack drowned because of systemic police failures.
The rescue was ‘badly managed’, he says, and ‘no one appeared to be taking charge’. So what are the rules in such situations?
According to the Health and Safety Executive, there are no standard guidelines as to how the police and emergency services should react. They must assess the risks and act accordingly. Police bosses also have a duty to implement measures to keep their staff safe.
For their part, the Met says its officers ‘may enter water after undertaking a fast-time assessment, taking into account, but not limited to the following: fitness levels, ability to swim, type of water hazards (including depth, water temperature, hidden and submerged hazards), the availability of rescue aids and the likely response time of other emergency services’.
Aware of this advice, the officers involved in the incident with Jack had much to consider in a short space of time.
Perhaps they feared they might breach police regulations, or the orders of a superior, by diving in. If so, they would not have taken into account the recently passed Social Action and Responsibility and Heroism Bill, which was designed to protect from prosecution those who act bravely in such situations.
Government minister Chris Grayling, who introduced the law as Justice Secretary, told me: ‘The whole purpose of the Bill . . . was to get rid of there ever being a situation when members of our emergency services did not feel they could go to the rescue of someone in difficulty because of the fear that they would end up in trouble for breaching health and safety rules.’
Notwithstanding this sensible guideline, the Met’s Commander for East London, Lucy D’Orsi, was so upset by the critical media coverage of her officers’ actions with regard to Jack Susianta that she composed an explanatory blog posting.
She said the officer who entered the ‘dangerous water’ — more than five minutes, remember, after Jack finally disappeared under the surface — had needed assistance himself.
The highly unusual police rebuttal — given prominent coverage in the Guardian newspaper — claimed that media reports of the incident did not reflect fairly what happened. In fact, my own investigation suggests those reports were strikingly accurate.
Lucy D’Orsi also made mention of the fact that police divers went into the water, too, ‘to try and save Jack’. Yet it must have been apparent they arrived long after it was too late to save the teenager.
While she acknowledged that it is hard to comprehend the pain Jack’s family must be feeling, she also made a point of stating that: ‘It’s also a traumatic event for . . . the police officers involved in the incident.’
‘They deserve to be judged fairly’ by ‘a fair and independent investigation’, she insisted.
However, this certainly doesn’t wash with the witnesses, who are convinced the police are guilty of a fundamental dereliction of duty and an abrogation of basic human values in failing to rescue Jack.
Pausing on their way to the marshes, others now stop to look at the tribute photos placed in honour of a 17-year-old boy who, tragically, has become a symbol of a nation where too many emergency service staff are so encumbered by absurd safety-first rules that few are prepared to take the initiative — even to save a young life.
A real Leftist hater
Jeremy Corbyn sidestepped five times the chance to condemn the IRA for its bombing spree. The Labour leadership frontrunner was repeatedly asked by BBC Radio Ulster if he wanted to criticise the IRA's atrocities during the Troubles.
Mr Corbyn caused outrage when he invited members of Sinn Fein, including Gerry Adams, into the Commons in 1984, a fortnight after the IRA's Brighton bombing which targeted the Conservative Cabinet.
When asked if he condemned the IRA, the Islington North MP said: 'I condemn all bombing, it is not a good idea, and it is terrible what happened.'
The presenter then said: 'The question is do you condemn what the IRA did?'. In his response, Mr Corbyn appeared to equate the actions of the British Army on Bloody Sunday with that of the terrorists, saying: 'Look, I condemn what was done by the British Army as well as the other sides as well. What happened in Derry in 1972 was pretty devastating as well.'
Put to him a third time, he pointed to ceasefires that had brought about the peace process 'which we should all be pleased about. Can we take the thing forward rather than backward?'
When the interviewer asked Mr Corbyn if he was refusing to condemn the IRA's actions, Mr Corbyn said he could not hear the question because he was on a train.
Asked the question a fifth time, he said: 'I feel we will have to do this later you know', before the line went dead.
Relatives of IRA victims criticised Mr Corbyn. Ann Travers, who lost her 22 year sister when the IRA shot her dead, told the Belfast Telegraph it was an 'insult to all our dead loved ones'.
Colin Parry, whose 12-year-old son Tim was killed in an IRA bomb in 1993, said. 'He saw an equivalence between the British Government's armed forced and republican terrorists which I think anyone with a balanced view in Northern Ireland could hardly agree with.'
Just weeks after the IRA bombed the Tory conference in Brighton in 1984, Mr Corbyn was criticised for inviting Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to the Commons.
The Islington North MP was accused of 'traitorous' behaviour for helping Mr Adams plug his autobiography inside the Houses of Parliament in 1996. While just last month he was happy to pose for pictures over coffee with Mr Adams who described Mr Corbyn and colleagues as 'comrades.'
It is not the first time the Labour leadership front runner has come under fire for his controversial choice of political friends.
Hamas and Hezbollah are proscribed as terror groups in the UK, EU and United States and have been condemned for their brutal anti-Semitism and support for terror attacks against Israeli civilians.
When confronted on his relationship with the extremist groups last month, had claimed he used the term 'friends' 'in a collective way' to say 'our friends are prepared to talk' and denied that it meant he was friendly to either Hamas or Hezbollah.
Losing his temper on a live interview with Channel 4 News, he said: 'Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is that I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree.
In February 2013, Mr Corbyn and his wife travelled to Gaza thanks to a £2,800 gift from Interpal - a charity banned by the US government as 'part of the funding network of Hamas', the Daily Telegraph reported. Interpal claim it has broken links with the terror group.
While the Labour leader hopeful also partially sponsored the visit of anti-Semitic Sheikh Raed Saleh to come to Parliament. Sheikh Saleh has previously claimed 9/11 was a Jewish plot and described Jews as a 'bacteria.'
Mr Corbyn today attended the Hiroshima memorial in London and revived his call for international nuclear disarmament.
Separately, he also refused to condemn the Tube strikes that brought London to a standstill yesterday.
Asked by Channel 4 News if he would criticise the unions – many of whom fund his campaign – Mr Corbyn said the striking drivers were losing money and were making a 'sacrifice' to defend or improve conditions. He added: 'They have made a decision to take strike action, they have every right to do that.'
Hate Group Calls for Racial Violence — Where's Obama?
The Nation of Islam was founded in 1930, and is now a wealthy and well-known black organization. But just how far out in left field is the group? They’re drunk and in the bleachers. Even the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center, which specializes in identifying so-called hate groups — most of which just happen to be conservative, or at least neo-Nazi so they can pin it on conservatives — lists the Nation of Islam as a hate group. SPLC says, “[I]ts bizarre theology of innate black superiority over whites — a belief system vehemently and consistently rejected by mainstream Muslims — and the deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay rhetoric of its leaders, including top minister Louis Farrakhan, have earned the NOI a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.”
In the latest quote for the file, Farrakhan recently told a crowd at Miami’s Mt. Zion Baptist Church, “I’m looking for 10,000 in the midst of a million. Ten thousand fearless men who say death is sweeter than continued life under tyranny. Death is sweeter than continuing to live and bury our children while the white folks give our killers hamburgers. Death is sweeter than watching us slaughter each other to the joy of a 400-year-old enemy. Death is sweeter. The Quran teaches persecution is worse than slaughter. Then it says retaliation is prescribed in matters of the slain. Retaliation is a prescription from God to calm the breasts of those whose children have been slain. So if the federal government won’t intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us; stalk them and kill them and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling!”
He’s talking about the deaths of a few black men at the hands of white police officers. And it sure sounds like he’s inciting violence. Will the Justice Department of Barack Obama, himself a disciple of hate, look into this?
Alabama makes three states that defunded Planned Parenthood this week
Alabama became the third state in a week to pull state funding for Planned Parenthood on Thursday.
The governor's office released a statement saying that the Alabama Medicaid Agency will terminate its provider contract with Planned Parenthood with a 15-day notice. If Planned Parenthood opposes the decision, the nonprofit has 60 days to apply for a fair hearing.
"The deplorable practices at Planned Parenthood have been exposed to Americans. I've terminated any association with the organization in AL," Bentley said in a follow-up tweet.
Bentley's announcement comes after Louisiana and New Hampshire ended relationships with the controversial women's health organization this week in the wake of several sting videos that an anti-abortion group claims show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue.
Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said Bentley's announcement will deprive thousands of low-income ad uninsured men and women of needed services.
"The courts have been clear that the federal law prohibits states from excluding abortion providers from Medicaid," she said. "Planned Parenthood's doors remain open and we will continue to provide high-quality, compassionate care to the women and men who rely on us."
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals pulled Medicaid funding from the organization.
"Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life. It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state," said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican presidential candidate.
And New Hampshire's Republican-led Executive Council decided to end contracts with Planned Parenthood earlier this month when the state denied $639,000 in state funding to the organization.
"To say there is a direct correlation between the number of dollars and number of people served is disingenuous," said Executive Councilor, Chris Sununu, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. "The organization has done good work, but I have serious questions about it, especially at the national level."
Republican presidential candidates, lawmakers and several governors have called for investigations into Planned Parenthood following the release of five undercover videos by anti-abortion group The Center for Medical Progress that accuse the group of illegally selling organs and tissue from aborted fetuses.
Planned Parenthood officials deny breaking any laws and accuse the group of heavily editing the videos. David Daleiden, head of The Center for Medical Progress, has released several videos that he says are unedited and plans to release more.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.