Rest in peace, Bessie the Wallsend cow. You were a docile cow, according to one man, and then you were shot dead by a phalanx of British cops with sniper rifles who were backed up by a helicopter and as many as 15 squad cars. You will be missed.
Bessie was gunned down on Sunday after she escaped from Rising Sun Country Park in North Tyneside, England, along with two other cows. Bessie’s compatriots were returned safely to their home, but she was not so lucky. A police spokesman told the BBC that Bessie was killed “in the interests of public safety.”
But some Wallsend residents believe Bessie didn’t have to die. “It wasn’t doing anything, it was just eating a bit of grass - it probably got sick of the grass it was eating elsewhere, it heard about a nice new patch, went down and started grazing, and the next thing is police turn up and start firing at it,” said Dave Turner, who set up a popular and frankly excellent Facebook fan page for Bessie. A representative post is screenshotted below.
The page has 8,000 likes at the time of this writing, and West has also organized a candlelight vigil for Bessie on Friday evening. (“Can we just reiterate that Friday is CANDLES ONLY we do not want any chinese lanterns as they pose a danger to other livestock when landing in nearby fields. Thank you,” he asks on Facebook.)
John Millard, a photographer who witnessed the shooting, told the BBC that there was a “massive police presence,” including a helicopter and many police cars. A photo shows five officers in riot gear, some holding rifles, standing near Bessie’s body. “There was no need to kill the animal,” resident Kirsty Murray pointed out to the Evening Chronicle. “A tranquilliser would have done the same job.”