Political

Remembering Stephen Lawrence

Liberal Democrat Vice President Isabelle Parasram writes to mark Stephen Lawrence Day…

Today is the day that we commemorate the life of Stephen Lawrence – a black British teenager who, in 1993, was killed in an unprovoked racist attack by a gang of white men.

Following an initial investigation, in which five suspects were charged, the public prosecution was dropped.

A private prosecution by the Lawrence family followed later, but this led to the acquittal of all three of those prosecuted.

At Stephen’s inquest, a verdict of unlawful killing “in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five youths” was delivered by Sir Montague Levine.

The next day, the Daily Mail published photographs of all five suspects on its front page with its never-to-be-forgotten headline:

The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us.

Eventually, in 2012, two of the suspects were convicted and received life sentences. But no one else has been brought to justice.

The public inquiry into the handling of the police investigation accused the Metropolitan Police of institutional racism. The subsequent Macpherson Report has been described as a watershed in British race relations.

I’m sure that you remember Stephen’s shocking murder and the ripples that followed. As a barrister, I know that the way in which everyone involved in the handling of investigations and prosecutions changed from that point onward.

Stephen Lawrence Day is all about giving young people in particular the tools for change and to create the kind of world they want to live in.

If you want some ideas of how to support Stephen Lawrence Day, take a look at what you can do in this time of social distancing.

In the meantime, let’s continue to remember Stephen and his parents, Doreen and Neville by using our influence as Lib Dems to combat knife crime, invest in young people and campaign for race equality.

 

 

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One response to “Remembering Stephen Lawrence”

  1. I remember the inquiry and its conclusions very well. Like many from the minorities’ community I followed it with bated breath. It started fractiously with febrile crowds gathering outside, the Nation of Islam vigilantes posturing as security and an American-style race stand-off in the street, some of it for the cameras. But the much wronged Lawrence family, who had throughout their ordeal behaved with an extraordinary dignity, demonstrably put their trust in the inquiry. And Macpherson did a good job. He was helped by a change in the mood among the ruling elites. The new Labour government had given the Lawrences’ search for justice their backing. Daily Mail had campaigned for a retrial. Between them they made the inquiry a point at which the country faced up to its racism and emerged better for it.
    It has been a two steps forward, two steps back ever since. Windrush generation scandal, Grenfell, knife crime and now the disproportionate toll Covid-19 is taking of minorities illustrate our failure as a nation to build onto the achievements of the Macpherson report. So there is a need for a reboot in race relations.
    A lot is better than in the 1990s. A lot is not. Segregation on racial/ethnicity lines in secondary schools playgrounds and school friendship groups should be a thing of the past. It is not. So, racial bias should be tackled at school as part of the curriculum. And, for it to be successful, the concept of multiculturalism needs to move from that of parallel cultures to the one of immersive culture of diverse roots…

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