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Politics

The Stephen Lawrence Murder 20 Years On. “The Met is Still Institutionally Racist”

SLawrenceThis week marks a full twenty years since black student Stephen Lawrence was slain on a south London street among a slew of racist insults. The coup de grace being administered with a ceremonial sword.

Professor Richard Stone who sat on the 1999 McPherson Panel commissioned by Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw (Tory Michael Howard said there were no issues to answer) told ITV that nothing has changed and the Met is still institutionalised in the filth of racist attitudes and practices.

Until the police are democratically accountable in a meaningful way as outlined by former Divisional Commander Keith Hunter during the Labour hustings held in 2012 nothing will change. We need a socialist policy approach to police and crime as much as we need economic ideas. 

The media were and have been an absolute disgrace since the murder of Stephen Lawrence, on the one hand aiding and abetting the police cover up in the early days, and once they realised that Stephen (and indeed Anthony Walker) fulfilled the criteria for how black people should be and act in Daily Mail Land, the faux outrage.

Why was the Mail so incandescent about the savage murder of Stephen that they launched such a campaign of harassment against the perpetrators? (I’m all for it, by the way).

Simple, Lawrence was a good little Black Boy. Middle Class professional parents, a successful scholar and whoopee do, a CHRISTIAN! Fantastic.

He was almost white and so the Mail can peddle that nightmare of all nice parents in the Soham mould of It Could Be Your Child Next!

 That’s why Stephen Lawrence has become an Icon in death. Sad but true.

The story has been told countless times and is no less shocking for it but in 1993, as Mike Fisher and I witnessed mass Police brutality at first hand, we were there because Stephen was the FIFTH victim in two years. Have you heard of the others? Of course not.

Lawrence’s death, did however allow the anti racist movement to “sell” racially motivated attacks to the white media as previous black campaigns had been aggressive and left many white people feel defensive, this was an image white people felt comfortable as it played heavily on the values of Middle England.

Yes, I felt more comfortable. Why? Because at previous marches and rallies we were confronted by either white hating (often Muslim inspired) young black men with the distinct whiff of testosterone, or beardy lentil types being “street” and nodding sagely as these guys demonised every white fella as a predatory Racist Nigger Hater, just the sort of Lefty I can’t abide, you know the type, University Lecturer who has never done a days graft in their life.

It was all very confusing and strange and I have to say that Stephen’s brutal murder drew in a more mainstream type of protester. You had little old ladies from the local Church groups marching with Black Power merchants. A bit like Live 8 compared to previous anti Globalisation protests.

Who were some of the others?

Rolan Adams was stabbed to death by white youths just two miles from where Stephen fell. This 1991 murder proved inconvenient as Adams was, as it were “a bit of a lad” and had dealings with the Police. Thus his murder remained unimportant even though the Met admitted to MacPhearson that it was racially motivated.

Rughit Duggal, killed in 1992 and Rafique Khan butchered on the same road as Stephen in January 1993.

Muslims. Not good enough to pursue a publicly transparent investigation.

What would have happened if later victim Liverpudlian Anthony Walker and Stephen Lawrence had been Rastafarian, if they had had a criminal record, if they had been a Muslim or if the parents had been inarticulate?

These cases have not just highlighted the inadequacies of our Police Forces and their attitudes of “Institutionalised Racism”, as exemplified by the murder of Jean Charles De Menezes, slain for having dark skin. It also raises questions about the media and about how blameless and acceptable a black victim has to be if white society is to take an interest.

In 2005 on Radio Four’s “Thought for the Day“, the speaker, a Anglican cleric, urged the Lawrence Five “to give yourselves up as you can’t possibly live with the guilt.” Thus proving why the Church of England is an embarrassing irrelevance in the 21st Century.

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

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