STEPHEN LAWRENCE SPECIAL EDITION FREE www.voice-online.co.uk
| January 2012
JUSTICE AT LAST!
“ It has been almost two
decades since bright teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered by racist thugs. Three court cases later and, at last, his parents Neville and Doreen have seen two men jailed.
MURDERERS: Gary Dobson and David Norris
| THE VOICE JANUARY 2012
SPECIAL EDITION www.voice-online.co.uk
DID THE STEPHEN LAWRENCE CASE REALLY CHANGE ANYTHING?
he 1999 Macpherson report into the police handling of Stephen Lawrence’s murder was supposed to have improved race relations in the UK. But more than a decade later, black Britons have mixed feelings about whether anything has changed.
By Juliana Lucas SHOCK, anger and sadness over the murder of Stephen Lawrence are just as fresh today among black Britons as they were back in April 1993 when he was killed. The 18-year-old was waiting at a bus stop when he was attacked and stabbed in the chest and arm. He ran several metres across Well Hall Road, Eltham, before he collapsed and died. Five white, male teenagers were arrested but never convicted. Two of the suspects, David Norris and Gary Dobson went on trial for the murder in November 2011 based on new forensic evidence. Last week, Dobson was given a life sentence with a minimum of 15 years and two months, and David Norris was also given a life sentence with a minimum of 14 years and three months. The pair were sentenced at the Old Bailey under guidelines in place at the time of the attack and as juveniles because both had been under 18. The judge, Mr Justice Trea-
cy, described the crime as a “murder which scarred the conscience of the nation”. Dobson, 36, and Norris, 35, were the first people convicted over the fatal attack on Stephen by a group of white youths near a bus stop in Eltham on 22 April 1993. Speaking outside court, his mother Doreen said the minimum terms imposed “may be quite low” but she recognised “the judge’s hands were tied” and thanked him for his sentencing remarks which ac-
knowledged the stress the family had suffered for 18 years. “It’s the beginning of starting a new life,” she said. Stephen Lawrence’s father,
Neville, said: “This is only one step in a long, long journey.” He thanked the police, the judge and the jury, and called on the pair to “give up” the other people involved in his son’s murder. The Macpherson inquiry into the police investigation of Stephen’s death was scathing. It’s report, published in February 1999, found there were several aspects of the case that were mishandled by officers, such as the unsympathetic way they dealt with the Lawrence family and their refusal to accept that Stephen’s murder was racially motivated. And it went on to describe the Metropolitan Police as “institutionally racist”. The report recommended a series of groundbreaking measures that would subject the police to greater public control and extend the number of offences classified as racist. They included the introduction of performance indicators to monitor the handling of racist incidents, training of family and witness liaison officers, racial awareness train-
GRIEF: Stephen’s parents Neville and (right) Doreen Lawrence
ing, guidelines for stop and search procedures, and targets for the recruitment of ethnic minority officers. At the time, the Macpherson Report was described by
1981 Brixton riots and something. Most people hoped that it would mean that no black family would in future ever have to suffer what the Lawrence’s went through. But, 13 years after the report’s publication, has it measured up to the ambitious claims? Has Macpherson made a difference to the lives of black Britons?
WEBBE: Nothing has changed
a number of commentators as a watershed in UK race relations; the most important document since the Scarman report which followed the
Claudia Webbe, of the Operation Trident Independent Advisory Group, says she thinks not. Webbe feels that the disproportionate numbers of black men dying in police custody, heavy handed stop and search tactics and the seemingly discriminatory way that anti-ter-
rorism laws have been used have long since washed away the bright-eyed optimism that greeted the Macpherson report and has dulled any hope that things will change for black people anytime soon. “There were some advances at the time but it now appears that all of that seems to have rolled back” she said. “There are issues that have not gone away, have not improved and have not changed for black communities in decades. You are still four or five times likely to be stopped and searched if you are black as compared to your white counterpart. You are still more likely to die in police custody. Black communities are still two to three times more likely to be unemployed than white people. Black men in particular are Continued on page 34
BRITISH RACE RELATIONS ARE FAR FROM PERFECT, SAY VOICE READERS EXCLUSIVE By Marc Wadsworth
TRIAL: Dobson and Norris
POLL FIGURES from The Voice show that a large majority of black people do not
believe that race relations in Britain have changed since the murder of Stephen Lawrence more than 18 years ago. An online survey revealed that 83 percent of participants thought things had not got better. Only 17 percent said race relations had improved since the fatal stabbing of the teenager by a gang of racists in south London. milestone It was a surprising result in the wake of Sir William Macpherson’s groundbreaking inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence
murder investigation. The Macpherson report was hailed as a milestone when it was published in 1999. The report brought about big changes in the way the police handle racist crimes and deals
still stopped and searched by police, and deaths in custody, are stark examples of how things have not changed. The Voice’s editor George Ruddock said: “The results of our poll reflect a deep dissat-
83 percent of participants thought things had not got better with the black community. But critics say that the disproportionate number of black people – mainly young men –
isfaction among black people about the way race relations in Britain have failed to progress. Stephen’s brutal
murder by racist thugs was a wake up call for the whole of the nation – black and white – and for a time the authorities took its lessons to heart. But it is clear that the momentum of change needs to be stepped up if we are not to see more inner city disturbances of the type that happened in the summer.” He added: “Our newspaper, which is proud to be ‘The Voice of Black Britain’, will continue to champion the cause of black people, fight injustice, highlight success stories and promote race equality.”
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EVIDENCE: Gary Dobson’s jacket
Stephen Lawrence’s red top
Background to the trial By Vic Motune
4As a result of forensic
advancements that helped to catch the killers of Damilola Taylor, the 10-year-old schoolboy who was fatally stabbed in Peckham, south London in 2000, police officers decided to do a “cold case” review of key items of clothing in the Stephen Lawrence case.
4On a jacket seized from still more likely to be detained in mental health institutions and there are clearly more black young men in prison than there are in university. Things have changed on the
BUTLER: Things are better
surface but it doesn’t look like much has advanced since Macpherson.” Suresh Grover, Director of The Monitoring Group and a former Stephen Lawrence Campaign for Justice manager, is also pessimistic about the impact that the Macpherson Report has had.
ATTACKS He said: “I think that race has been put on a national agenda but over the last two years we have seen as many racial attacks as we did in the 1990s. We have also seen fewer resources dedicated to people who are working to support victims of racism. Although the Lawrence case is a beacon for race relations I am afraid the future looks a bit bleaker than it should.” However, Gary Trowsdale,
Managing Director of the Damilola Taylor Trust, struck a more hopeful note. He said: “I think most people from white backgrounds felt a deep sense of shame in the way Stephen’s death came about and the appalling miscarriage of justice that followed. Have lessons been learned? I hope so personally and I think the great respect people from all communities have towards Doreen for the fantastic legacy she has provided for Stephen with her charity work has built a lot of bridges. We work with a lot of young people across London of all shapes, sizes and colours and the common denominator is their positivity towards one another. I hope we will shortly arrive at a place where our young leaders have guided us towards where colour or religion is just not an issue. We are all equal in the eyes of God after all.”
PROGRESS Leading anti-racism campaigner Lord Herman Ouseley, the former chief executive of the now defunct Commission for Racial Equality, believes that race relations have improved but says that the Macpherson report was just one of many factors that helped. He said: “Race relations were quite bad in 1993. Race relations in 2011 are better. If you are asking if things have got better since Stephen Lawrence was murdered nearly twenty years ago? Yes, but
not just because of this case. The case made a contribution but not by itself. A lot of other people were involved in trying to make this country fairer for people from different back-
grounds.” Former Brent South MP Dawn Butler also believes that race relations since Macpherson have improved. “In the initial stages it made people very aware of institutional racism,” she said. Butler added: “I don’t think it is as prevalent now but there is still racism that needs to be fought in many institutions.” But Merlin Emmanuel, nephew of reggae icon Smiley Culture who died following a police raid on his home in March, believes that any changes in race relations have been superficial. “On the outside it appears that people are more tolerant but I think that deep down many people really are of the same mentality,” he said “They still have the prejudices that they had 20 odd years ago. They have just become a lot more polite about it.”
Gary Dobson’s wardrobe a very small blood stain was found on the collar, which appeared to have soaked into the weave of the fabric, and numerous very small flakes of possible blood were located on the jacket’s surface. 4DNA profiles from the bloodstain and blood fragments matched Stephen’s profile. 4A number of textile fibres were found on the jacket and in the original police packaging, which matched the fibres of Stephen’s cardigan, jacket and red polo shirt. 4Furthermore, on a cardigan seized from Dobson’s home, fibres were found which matched the fibres of Stephen’s jacket. Textile fibres matching those making up this cardigan were also found on Stephen’s jacket and trousers. 4During the summer of 2010 the Metropolitan Police team who had conducted the forensic review consulted with the Crown Prosecution Service and lawyers. 4In September 2010, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) authorised a
fresh investigation, and on Tuesday 7th September 2010 David Norris was arrested and interviewed about the murder. 4Dobson was arrested and interviewed on the same day. 4On Wednesday 8th September 2010 both men were charged with the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Norris, who had not previously been acquitted of the murder, appeared at Camberwell Magistrate’s Court by video link and was remanded in custody to appear at the London’s Old Bailey on Thursday 9th September 2010. Dobson was ordered to appear at the Old Bailey within 24 hours of the charge and he and Dobson were both remanded in custody. 4The DPP subsequently made an application to the Court of Appeal to quash Dobson’s acquittal. On the 18th of May 2011, the court ruled in support of the DPP and ordered that he should be retried for Stephen’s murder. David Norris was also charged with murder. 4Both defendants appeared at the Old Bailey on July 1st 2011 and were remanded in custody. The trial started on Monday 14th November 2011. 4During the first two weeks, the jury heard evidence arising from the initial enquiries following Stephen’s murder, including details of police exhibit handling standards which were in place in the early 1990s. 4The case was essentially based on new scientific
evidence arising from the forensic review. 4Both Dobson and Norris based their defence cases on the argument that the new scientific evidence found on their clothing was there as a result of cross contamination arising from the way in which exhibits were handled in the early stages of the investigation, and during it. Both defendants’ claimed they were not in Well Hall Road, Eltham, on the night of the murder. 4Evidence given in the prosecution case included statements made by a reviewing scientist who said that cross contamination was extremely unlikely to have been responsible for the evidence found. 4Also part of the prosecution’s case was a recording from a covert surveillance video showing the two defendants associating with each other and others, all of whom used extreme racist abuse. 4Dobson’s parents gave an alibi that he was at home with them on the evening of the murder. 4Norris told the court he was not in Eltham on the night of the murder but he could not say for certain where he was. His brother Clifford and mother Theresa Norris told detectives involved in the new investigation that the clothing seized was Clifford’s not David’s. This is not what she said to police in 1993 when she was first interviewed. Theresa told the Old Bailey she had a routine for her sons that meant David must have been in on a week night by 9pm.
It has been described as the most significant murder case in British twentieth century history. This pull out will provide a lasting record for our readers. Editors: Designer:
Marc Wadsworth and Vic Motune Thierry Lagrin
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LIFE AFTER THE MACPHERSON REPORT
id anything change for black Britons after Sir William Macpherson’s inquiry into the investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder found that the Met Police was ‘institutionally racist’? Poppy Brady reports from Birmingham.
LIFE FOR the black community in the wake of the Macpherson report has been ‘very disappointing’ says veteran community activist Maxie Hayles. He said: “I think we all expected the legislation after Macpherson to be far more progressive and effective in bringing justice to black people who are the most vulnerable in society. I believe we
need a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system because it has damaged too many people’s lives. Racial harassment is still rife, but it has become more subtle. In a way that is more damaging because some of the perpetrators are intelligent people.” Hayles was the driving force behind the creation of the Birmingham Racial Monitoring Attacks Unit. As chairman,
he was responsible for getting retired High Court judge Sir William Macpherson, who produced the most significant report on race relations for a generation in the wake of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1993, to visit Birmingham. Community worker Sandra Golding, from Aston, Birmingham, is also not convinced that race relations have improved since Macpherson. “I
believe things have got worse, not better,” said the mother of two, who was in the news earlier this year after her two young daughters were stopped and intimidated by armed police. “If your face does not fit and if you are not part of a certain
clique in society, then you are excluded.” But 22-year-old Marquell Milford is among those who believes that life has improved for the black community. Milford, who works in his Birmingham-based family business, says that although
racism still exists, dealing with it is all about perspective. “It’s a question of having the right attitude. I think you have to learn from situations. It can be easy to shift the blame (for racist attitudes) but sometimes the way you handle things can just make situations worse.”
LITTLE HAS CHANGED SAYS MANCHESTER’S BLACK COMMUNITY By Paulyn Lloyd TWO LEADING members of Manchester’s black community have claimed that black Britons have been left disappointed in the wake of the wake of
the Macpherson report. Benji Reid, Artisitic Director of the Breaking Cycles Theatre Company and Patsy McKie, founder of campaign group Mothers Against Violence said that despite the report’s recommendations to tackle insti-
tutional racism and the conviction of Gary Dobson and David Norris for the murder of Stephen Lawrence in April 1993, race relations had not improved. Reid, 44, told The Voice: “Having encountered two rac-
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ist incidents this year alone, seeing the BNP winning seats in the north west, and seeing black footballers being abused by other players, things seem to be much the same. You may be able to change the law but changing people’s attitudes is another story.” Mckie, agrees. She said: “I think people have to change, I don’t think a law or a report can make a difference in the community. It’s people who make the difference. “The politicians are not prepared to get their hands dirty and there aren’t enough resources. I believe black people need to rise up when they see a problem and not just be apathetic about the situation
and complain and do nothing.” Mckie added: “In some ways there has been a little bit of change but there will always be police who think they can do what they want to do because they have a bit of authority. “But if you just complain and don’t do anything about it then nothing will change. It’s
no use moaning and groaning. I’m not into moaning and groaning. I’m into doing something about it. I’m willing to lay my life down for what I believe.” According to a Voice reader poll, 83 per cent of black Britons believe that race relations have not improved since the Macpherson report was published in February 1999.
REID: Attitude change
McKIE: Action needed
HOW THE STEPHEN LAWRENCE CASE REFORMED POLICING By Vic Motune WHEN THE Macpherson report was published in February 1999, its verdict of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was damning. Macpherson famously described the MPS as ‘institutionally racist’, a term he used to describe “the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin.” The report’s publication prompted a shake up of how the MPS investigates hate crimes and murder, how it tries to create a more representative workforce, and how officers work with the capital’s diverse communities. Among some of the key changes that have been intro-
duced are dedicated Community Safety Units and specialist investigators across London to probe hate crimes, support victims and target offenders. The last decade has also seen the creation of neighbourhood panels allowing local people to contribute to setting policing priorities for their area, the establishment of community liaison officers who work with and support specific minority ethnic communities in London, and the launch of independent advisory groups to guide police work. INSIGHT A Met spokesperson said: “These measures have led to us having a better understanding of communities, while gaining crucial insight, advice and constructive criticism, enabling us to develop practices and
policies more effectively, with communities now having more say and more involvement in policing than ever before. “We have also made good progress in achieving our aim of having a workforce that better reflects London’s diverse population, with more officers from a black and minority ethnic background working in the Met than ever before. We strongly believe that increasing the diversity of our workforce has helped us to better understand and engage with the diverse communities we serve.” But he added: “While much has been achieved since the report we are not complacent and recognise there is still much more to do. We owe that to the memory of Stephen Lawrence and the persistence by his family for justice, changes to public services and the judicial system.”
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The legacy of Stephen Lawrence will remain
WE WANT YOUR NEWS Do you know of a local business success story? Or an individual who has achieved against the odds? Or a campaign you want to tell us about?
THE VOICE SAYS
Our Fight Is Not Over IT HAS been almost two decades since bright teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered by racist thugs. Three court cases later and - at last - his parents, Doreen and Neville, have found some measure of justice with the jailing of vicious racist thugs Gary Dobson and David Norris. Detectives say a gang of at least five young men were involved in the unprovoked attack on Stephen at an Eltham, south London, bus stop. The remainder must be put behind bars too. A bungled police investigation allowed those guilty of this evil crime to roam free for almost 19 years. An official inquiry into the murder headed by retired High Court judge Sir William Macpherson found that the Met was ‘institutionally racist’. The report criticised five of the original investigating officers for refusing to accept that it was a racist attack, but no officer was ever punished for this rank incompetence. Top cops say, post Macpherson, such a cock up would not happen again. Forensic breakthroughs, especially as a result of the 2000 Damilola Taylor case, helped nail Dobson and Norris. But Stephen’s parents say firmly that the police should not use his name to say that we can move on. Racism and racist attacks continue to happen and must be mercilessly combated. Other victims, like Rolan Adams, who was murdered by racists before Stephen, must not be forgotten. Nor the valour of campaigners who, with Doreen and Neville Lawrence, kept the case alive. An online Voice poll shows that a huge number of black people do not believe that race relations have improved since Stephen’s murder. There is still much to be done to improve policing. The unacceptable deaths of black people in custody must be tackled, and the disproportionate number of young black men stopped and searched. The Government must champion the cause of anti-racism and racial equality in order to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the Stephen Lawrence legacy.
We have launched a new community news section called Around Black Britain that places you the readers at the heart of the paper. We want to hear your news and views about what is happening in your neighbourhood.
Then please get in touch And if you have photographs and video clips, we would love to see them.
Contact the Community News Editor Vic Motune by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7510 0340
| THE VOICE JANUARY 2012
SPECIAL EDITION www.voice-online.co.uk
A LONG, HARD FIGHT I
t has been almost 19 years since Stephen Lawrence was murdered. Writing exclusively for The Voice, veteran campaigner and journalist Marc Wadsworth gives the inside story of how he helped the Lawrence family in their struggle to get his killers jailed.
THEY EMERGED from a grilling about the murder of Stephen Lawrence snarling, spitting and throwing punches at a hostile crowd held at bay by police. It was a warm Tuesday morning, June 30, 1998, and I was standing outside Hannibal House, in Elephant and Castle, south London, when murder suspects Gary Dobson, Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt, Luke Knight, and David Norris came out from their “arrogant and dismissive” appearance at the Macpherson Inquiry. The five young men looked every bit the racist thugs a secret police film had shown them to be a year after 18year-old Lawrence was stabbed to death just because he was black. Stephen’s close friend, Duwayne Brooks, who was a
BROOKS: Stephen’s close friend
victim of the same attack, has laid bare the appalling policing that led to the men walking free for almost 19 years. He vividly recalled how officers at the scene refused to take the dying teenager to a hospital that was just a couple
of minutes away. Doreen Lawrence, Stephen’s mother, later powerfully said the reason was “because they just did not want to get their hands dirty with a black man’s blood”. In a heartbreaking account of the murder in his book Steve and Me, Duwayne wrote: ‘The police were supposed to stem the flow of blood, but they didn’t turn Steve over to see where the blood was coming from, which is basic first aid. They kept asking me the same dumb questions. “Are you sure you didn’t start anything?” “Why would people attack you out of the blue for no reason?”’ CAMPAIGN BEGINS On the night of the April 22, 1993, murder I was in Glasgow chairing a Scottish
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trade union meeting to drum up support for the voluntary funded Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) that I had founded two years earlier. My diary of the time reveals that I was a delegate at the National Union of Journalists’ annual meeting the following morning when staff at the ARA’s central London office got a call saying there had been another racist murder in the Greenwich area. It was St George’s Day. The previous slayings of Rolan Adams, Rohit Duggal and Orville Blair, in what we dubbed ‘the racist murders capital of Britain’, meant our small team was working flat out. The ARA was also spearheading a campaign to rid the area of the British National Party’s headquarters, which spread murderous hatred among white local people, like those who yelled “What, what ni**er,” before slaughtering Stephen. A black female activist I knew and respected asked me to help Doreen and Neville Lawrence start a campaign for justice. So I called a south London solicitor friend, Michael Reid, for advice before telephoning the Lawrences and sending two trusted staff to meet with them. On the evenings of the following four days, at their request, I visited the Lawrences’ Llanover Road, Plumstead, terraced home, which was full of people comforting them. On the Wednesday I introduced them to lawyer Imran Khan. Recommended to me by the ARA’s legal officer, Peter Herbert, chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, Khan had been qualified as a solicitor a couple of years and had worked for the anti-racist Newham Monitoring Project. He agreed to help the Lawrences for free. Having a lawyer meant the Lawrences were professionally represented in dealings with the police – something the murder squad detectives did not like, being used to having control over a victim’s family whom they could wheel out for news interviews that put the police in the best light. MEDIA STRATEGY On Wednesday night I went on Tony Sewell’s Choice FM radio show with Rolan Adams’ father, Richard. I was aware that other families needed our help as well as the Lawrences, although, in the end, they took
up most of our time. At 4pm the next day I joined Doreen and Neville for a wreath-laying at the spot in Well Hall Road, Eltham, where Stephen received his fatal knife wounds. At 7.30pm the ARA, helped by other Greenwich organisations, held a candlelight vigil, attended by hundreds of grief-stricken people. Two hours later I was back at the Lawrences’ home to plan ahead. I suggested a twin-track political and news media strategy to win public support for a Justice for Stephen Lawrence campaign, aimed at getting his killers jailed, and highlighting the scourge of racist attacks. On paper, this should have been a cause célèbre that would easily get national attention. But it was an uphill struggle. Lack of interest was not confined to the mainstream. When I contacted the editor of a leading black newspaper about the campaign I was rebuffed with the feeble response: “We’ll wait and see if it’s taken up by other newspapers first.”
rible and widespread racism was in parts of Britain’, and was ‘determined to present the Stephen Lawrence case differently [than previously ignored cases] and to break through the indifference of the tabloid press towards black victims of racism’. I highlighted the fact that Stephen wanted to be an architect, that he was lawabiding, diligent and respect-
MANDELA: His support of the Lawrences sparked media interest
I was bitterly disappointed, not least because Doreen and Neville rightly could not understand why the horrific racist murder of their beloved son was not big national news. Veteran BBC reporter Nick Higham wrote in an article online, that I, a former Thames TV reporter/presenter and Fleet Street journalist, ‘saw an opportunity in their personal tragedy to convey to middle England just how hor-
ful. We were saying to white society: Stephen was just like you. On May 4, I held a news conference at Greenwich Town Hall, attended by Doreen and Neville, local Labour MP John Austin-Walker, Councillor Vicky Morse, Councillor Kanta Patel, Imran Khan, Peter Herbert, Palma Black (whom I had seconded to the Lawrences from the ARA to lend support), and Doreen’s sister
JANUARY 2012 THE VOICE |
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T FOR JUSTICE
July, Gary Dobson was jailed for five years for drug dealing. Dobson and Norris were arrested in September 2010. MACPHERSON REPORT
RACIST THUGS: Alleged killers emerge from the Macpherson inquiry
Cheryl Sloley. The media turnout was disappointing. It was the next day when a major breakthrough happened. MANDELA’S SUPPORT Nad Pillay, an African National Congress contact, called to ask if I would like him to arrange a meeting with Nelson Mandela, due in London the following day. Of course, my answer was a resounding “Yes”. Escorted by the ARA’s security chief, Glenroy Dinal Allen, I picked up the Lawrences at 9.25am and drove them to the Athenaeum Hotel, in Piccadilly, where we met Nelson Mandela for 20 minutes. He was friendly, informal and attentive. Afterwards, on the pavement outside, with Doreen and Neville beside him, Mandela made a monumental statement: “The Lawrence tragedy is our tragedy. I am deeply touched by the brutality of the murder – brutality that we are used to in South Africa, where black lives are cheap.” Suddenly, media interest was ignited. That evening, the BBC’s flagship programme Newsnight did a 15-minute special report on the Lawrence case. Doreen commented in her book written with the renowned Margaret Busby: ‘It struck me as incredible that a foreign dignitary as important as Nelson Mandela had made time for us, whereas there had been no statement by any British Conservative government official about the death of our son.’ At last, a full fortnight after the murder, arrests were or-
dered. The secret police filming of the suspects caught on camera their sickening racist rants and stabbing gestures with a large knife similar to the one that was used to kill Stephen Lawrence. Another turning point came with the big-selling Daily Mail. Prior to direct contact with its formidable editor Paul Dacre being made by Neville Lawrence, who had once done work on Dacre’s house, the right-wing voice of middleEngland maliciously claimed
“...they just did
not want to get their hands dirty with a black man’s blood ” black militants had hijacked the Lawrences. Dacre now ordered his journalists to give the family positive news coverage. A black journalist, Hal Austin, whom I knew well, contacted me about doing a sympathetic full-page interview with Doreen and Neville. At 8pm on May 10, it took place at the Simba community centre, in Woolwich, south London. I sat in on the interview to support the Lawrences. At 3pm on Sunday, May 16, the ARA arranged a ‘Human chain for justice’ in the road where Stephen was murdered. Conservative local MP Peter Bottomley, John Austin Walker MP, Greenwich Council leader Len Duvall, and hundreds of others attended. This time lots of news media, including TV, covered the event.
Meanwhile, the ARA was busy helping the family of Ruhullah Aramesh, a 24-yearold Afghan student, murdered by a racist gang in Thornton Heath, Surrey, in July 1992. We organised a national demonstration on a Saturday for the family. I went to the Dorchester Hotel to meet with Archbishop Desmond Tutu to request that he attend, which he did. I brought the Lawrences to the march too, although Doreen was at first reluctant. Understandably, she thought that campaigning should be just about her son’s case; it caused problems among my hardworking colleagues when she sometimes objected to the ARA getting publicity that it needed to be an effective pressure group. The road outside Plumstead Methodist Church was crowded on Friday, June 18, when Stephen Lawrence’s funeral was held. Rev David Cruise said during his rousing sermon: “Racial hatred is in our midst and we ignore it at our peril.” With the rest of the congregation, I walked past Stephen’s coffin and saw his peaceful face. I was overwhelmed by emotion. Stephen could have been my son. CHARGES DROPPED On July 29, while Doreen and Neville were in Jamaica burying Stephen, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced it had dropped charges against the accused men because of “insufficient evidence”. Immediately, the ARA issued a statement condemning the decision: it was proof that ‘there is something rotten at the heart of the Crown Pros-
ecution Service when it deals with racist murders’. The ARA organised a picket outside the CPS headquarters to protest. In April 1996, the Lawrences began a rare private prosecution against the initial two suspects and three others: Jamie Acourt, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight. The family could not get legal aid, so a fighting fund was set up to pay for the analysis of forensic evidence and the cost of tracing witnesses. Then a bombshell dropped. The charges against Jamie Acourt and David Norris were dropped before the trial due to lack of evidence. The three remaining suspects were acquitted when the judge ruled as inadmissible identification evidence from Duwayne. David Norris and Neil Acourt were jailed in 2002 for a racist attack on a black plain-clothes policeman. In November 2007, Stephen Lawrence case detectives confirmed they were investigating new forensic evidence. Three years later, in
In November 2011 they were put on trial, accused of killing Stephen Lawrence. The Acourts and Knight are still at large. It has been 16 disappointment-filled years for the Lawrences and their supporters since the last court case. On a positive note, the ARA succeeded in getting leading human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman to draft a groundbreaking bill, to make racial harassment a specific criminal offence rather than leaving it to the victims to take out civil court action. Years later our proposals actually became law. Have British race relations got better? Some commentators say the Lawrence public inquiry headed by retired judge Sir William Macpherson brought about a dramatic change in policing. Macpherson robustly stated that the Metropolitan Police force was ‘institutionally racist’, and this was at the heart of why investigating officers had been incompetent and committed fundamental errors, including: • failing to give first aid when they reached the scene. • failing to follow obvious leads during their investigation.
• failing to quickly arrest suspects. Macpherson found that recommendations of the Scarman report, after the 1981 Brixton riot, had been ignored. The Macpherson report’s recommendations for reform included changes to the Civil Service, local government, the National Health Service, schools, and the judicial system, to deal with institutional racism. But, on many fronts, race relations have not improved. The high number of deaths in custody of black people is a national scandal. Young black men are still disproportionately stopped and searched by police. Combined with unemployment and poverty, these factors have been cited as fuelling the August 2011 riots. Despite increased recruitment of black police officers there have been high-profile racism cases brought against the service – including by senior members such as exchief inspector David Michael and Commander Ali Dizaei. A clampdown on racism throughout British society has slowed since Macpherson reported in 1999 and must be kick-started back into action. But, for many people like the Lawrences and me, the greatest prize would be the jailing for life of all the cowardly thugs who butchered defenceless Stephen Lawrence in an unprovoked racist attack.
| THE VOICE JANUARY 2012
SPECIAL EDITION www.voice-online.co.uk
WORLD MEDIA REACTS TO THE GUILTY VERDICTS T
he jailing of Norris and Dobson attracted international press coverage
By Lizabeth Davis AS THE news of the guilty verdicts of Gary Dobson and David Norris in the Stephen Lawrence trial broke, it got huge attention around the world. Newspaper readers in America, Canada, Africa and Asia took a keen interest in the sentencing of the pair and the reaction of The New York Times report discussed the impact the case had on Britain. It said that the case had exposed a “lack of injustice and racism” in Britain, and compared it to the infamous 1894 Dreyfus case in France. It concluded that “for Britain, the convictions were a defining moment.” “The Lawrence case had become as famous an emblem of justice denied or perverted as the Dreyfus case in France in the 1890s. It stood out because it occurred in a country where a vast majority of the 500 to 700 murders each year are suc-
cessfully prosecuted.” A number of US newspapers incorporated the quote of judge Mr Justice Treacy who called the crime “terrible and evil” in their headlines. The daily Christian Science Monitor carried an in depth two-page feature on the case, describing it as a turning point in British race relations. The Washington Post said that the case “exposed racism in Scotland Yard” and that it “prompted widespread soulsearching about race relations in Britain.” The Jamaica Gleaner and The Jamaica Observer were among the leading Caribbean papers to cover the story. The verdict was also widely covered in many African publications who also described it as a turning point in British race relations. However, a leader piece in the Nigerian publication Punch, said that too many race crimes in Britain had gone unsolved and that for the Lawrence family justice “was CONVICTED: Gary Dobson and David Norris almost lost.”
Steps in the struggle FEBRUARY 18,1999 ITV screened a documentary, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence. The following day the mothers of the five suspects in the case were interviewed on BBC radio programme Today, and they protested the innocence of their sons. FEBRUARY 24, 1999 The final report of the Macpherson Inquiry is presented to Parliament. The report described the Metropolitan Police as ‘institutionally racist’. It criticised five of the original investigating officers for refusing to accept that the stabbing of Stephen Lawrence was a racist attack. Recommendation 38 suggested Parliament reconsider the ‘double jeopardy’ rule.
JUSTICE: DCI Clive Driscoll, Doreen Lawrence and Imran Khan
MAY 5, 2004 The Crown Prosecution Sservice announced there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for Stephen’s murder.
APRIL 2005 Government make changes to the double jeopardy law, meaning a suspect can be tried for the same crime if there is compelling new evidence. MARCH 2006 The Metropolitan Police pay Duwayne Brooks £100,000 in compensation, for the way police officers behaved towards him after Stephen’s murder. JUNE 2006 A full forensic review begins, and when new scientific evidence is found, the prosecution team applies for a retrial. FEBRUARY 2008 The £10m Stephen Lawrence Centre opens in Deptford, south London. The building, which was designed by architect David Adjaye, is vandalised a week later in a suspected racist attack.
DECEMBER 2009 The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) arrest a former police constable and a member of police staff for attempting to pervert the course of justice by allegedly withholding evidence from the original murder inquiry. They were later released on bail and no further action was taken. MAY 2011 The CPS announces that David Norris, 34, and Gary Dobson, 35, will stand trial for the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Both men were charged in September 2010 but reporting restrictions meant the allegations could not be reported. NOVEMBER 2011 The jury is sworn in and the trial begins at the Old Bailey. JANUARY 2012 Gary Dobson and David Norris jailed for murder.
JANUARY 2012 THE VOICE |
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‘All we’re asking for is equal treatment before the law’ T
he Government should be taking a stronger stance on race equality. Instead they’re allowing the Diane Abbott race row to deflect attention from the real issues
By Aaron Kiely
I WAS four years old when student Stephen Lawrence was cut down in his prime by racist thugs and it has taken 18 years for some justice. Growing up with the background of such a tragedy has compelled me to become active in the fight against racism and ultimately lead me to become an activist in the NUS Black Students’ Campaign. Our struggle for a properly resourced Black Students’ Campaign came off the back of the inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence. The Campaign would not be here today if not for the determined support of people like the Lawrence family. For almost two decades the world saw the Lawrence family subjected to two counts of racism. Firstly, at the hands of racist thugs who brutally murdered an innocent black teen. Secondly, at the hands of the Metropolitan Police, whose abject failure led to the public inquiry chaired by Lord Macpherson, that concluded the police and other institutions were “institutionally racist”. Given the Lawrence family’s long hard road to some justice – although other killers still remain at large - it is disgusting and disgraceful that less than 24 hours after the sentencing, the discussion has moved on to whether Diane Abbott, Brit-
ain’s first black woman MP who has actively campaigned against racism all her political life, is indeed racist herself. Not only is a “tweet” being discussed in equal measure to a racist murder and the struggle that came with it, but this has been allowed to eclipse the more important discussion of how to prevent further racist attacks and ensure justice is served where racist crimes are committed. This could only happen in a country that has a long way to go in eradicating racism. RACE RELATIONS Only a week earlier, Anuj Bidve, an Indian student was shot dead in Salford, Greater Manchester. According to research by the Institute if Race Relations, since 1993 - when Stephen was killed - 96 people have lost their lives in the UK in apparent racist attacks – a rate of over five each year. The only way to prevent violent racist hate crimes is to create a society where the enormous contribution of black people, all faiths and cultures is celebrated not ignored. Race relations legislation makes it statutory and obligatory for councils to promote strong anti-racist policies. Enforcing this makes a huge difference on the ground. During Ken Livingstone’s mayoralty, racist attacks in London fell by over 50 percent, which is a testament to his administration’s emphasis on supporting and celebrating the capital’s diversity. When racist attacks occur, all black people ask for is equal treatment before the law. However, it is institution-
CAMPAIGN: The Lawrences, Marc Wadsworth and Desmond Tutu
al racism that prevents black people from not only accessing justice, but also being wrongly targeted. According to official statistics, in 19992000, a black person was five times more likely than a white person to be stopped by police. A decade later, they were seven times more likely. Also, in 2011 alone, between January and August, 8 Black detainees died in police custody. The Macpherson report also acknowledged racism in other areas of public life such as education and health. Oxford University has accepted only 32 Black undergraduates this year. Between 2005 and 200910, Black patients formally detained under the Mental Health Act rocketed from 2,700 to 4,600, which represent around a 70 per cent increase. The recommendations of the report are as relevant today as they were 13 years ago. The Government should be taking action to implement these and map a national strategy for preventing racist violence, instead of allowing a Tory blogger to distract and deflect attention from this. GENOCIDE Racism has devastated the world, in the forms of slavery, partition, colonialism, genocide and institutional and systematic discrimination. Racism still thrives in Britain today. A serious discussion, with perspective, would not allow a tweet to dominate it and would focus how to confront this hatred. We can no longer wait around for more black students to be harmed and killed in racist attacks. We can never have another Anthony Walker, who was killed by racists in 2005, or Stephen Lawrence. Now is the time to make sure the voices of Black people are heard - from Students’ Unions to Parliament - to make sure that the issue of eradicating racism is always on the agenda. *Aaron Kiely is a member of the National Union of Students’ Black Students’ Campaign. He sits on the NUS National Executive and is a member of the Anti-Racism Anti-Fascism Committee.
ROW: Diane Abbott MP
all Black people are n*****s and if we’re not we’re p***s or half-castes or mongrels excluded from school as children and under-marked in college as students then unemployed as graduates although everyone knows that if we do have a job it’s to fill quotas and if we don’t we’re state scroungers and because we’re the first to be sacked and the last to be promoted and because we’re under-represented in parliament and over-represented in prisons and psychiatric wards and if we complain we’re militants, playing the race card and if we don’t it’s our slave mentality and when we demand equality we really mean special treatment and if we wear traditional clothes or have beards we’re backward or if we wear a headscarf we’re oppressed and if we wear hoodies we’re a threat and if we don’t we’re trying to be white and if we inter-racially marry we’re muddying the genes and if we don’t it’s because we’ve been forced by our families and if our friends are black we’re self-segregating and if they’re not we’re selfhating and if we’re housed near other minorities it’s a ghetto or little India and if we’re not we’re spoiling the character or taking over, and if we’re attacked it must be an ethnic problem or community tension caused by us for just being there and if we’re not, we must be doing the attacking because we’re over-policed as citizens but under-policed as victims and because we’re all muggers, drug dealers, addicts or terrorists anyway and because we should all go back to where we came from even if we’ve never been there and take our multiculturalism with us e but leave our food and ...we are a part of th s’ nt music and... for lots and NUS black stude lots of other reasons... campaign.
To get involved in the Black Students’ Campaign, visit: www.nusconnect.org/black
The NUS Black Students’ Campaign is proud to be associated with the Voice newspaper’s Stephen Lawrence Special Edition
10| THE VOICE JANUARY 2012
SPECIAL EDITION www.voice-online.co.uk
‘BLACK PEOPLE NEED A BULLET PROOF VEST TO SURVIVE IN ELTHAM’
ltham gained notoriety in the early 1990s as ‘the racist murders capital of Britain’ after the deaths of Rohit Duggal and Stephen Lawrence. Almost two decades later, has the area changed? Voice reporter Lizabeth Davis decided to find out. INITIAL THOUGHTS of Eltham had always brought out a slight feeling of fear in me. As far as I’ve been concerned it’s always been the ‘no go’ area of the capital. And the reason for that view is, I’ve always known it to be the place in which teenager Stephen Lawrence was brutally murdered in a racially motivated attack. It was an area
where race hatred was seen to be the norm, a place where the far right British National Party based in nearby Welling, drew many of its recruits. I vowed that I would never set foot in Eltham because of this. And I have kept to my word. I have never visited the area and I never thought I would ever have to. At the time of Stephen’s
murder I was in primary school. FEAR However, through my teens I, as well as most of my friends, were very aware of the huge press coverage surrounding the case. I remember there being a universal feeling of shock and sadness amongst
most of the people I talked to about the case. So now, 18 years after his death in 1993, I wondered how the area had changed. When I told friends and family members that I would be heading to Eltham to speak to the locals as a reporter for The Voice, the responses I received only heightened my old fears about visiting the area. A lot of people I spoke to were also put off visiting the area because of what happened to Stephen. “Be careful, you know they don’t like black people there.” “Make sure you go in the daytime. At least people will be around if anything happens” and “Are you out of you mind? I would never go there! Black people need a bulletproof vest to survive in Eltham” were just some of the things that were said. Nevertheless, I plucked up the courage and dragged a
colleague along with me for moral support. Were these comments and my own fears justified? Did Stephen’s death have an impact on the area? Or was it’s title as the racist murder capital of Britain justified? As I made my way along one of the area’s busy high streets, I was quickly struck by the numbers of black people going about their everyday lives. When I spoke to them, I realised that they had mixed feelings about the area in which they lived and worked in. Uche Ezedinma, a 29 year old charity fundraiser from north London confessed he had been “a little apprehensive” when he began working in the area. ATTACKS “I didn’t know what to expect” he said “but since I’ve been here I haven’t had any problems. I’m relieved about that.” However Marly Santos, originally from Brazil, said that the seven years she has spent in Eltham have been anything but pleasant. “There are lots of Brazilian friends of mine that moved here, and they have experienced hassle and racial abuse here. We are very familiar with these issues” she told me. Santos, 53, said that after witnessing her friends being racially abused in the streets on a number of occasions she doesn’t feel very safe.
PROTEST: The area was the scene of several anti-racism demonstrations
“The experience was very scary. I have been living here for seven years and I didn’t know about the history [of the area]. Unfortunately I bought a house here and cannot leave.” I then spoke to 67-yearold Gwendaline Tag, who has lived in Eltham with her husband Alan for over 24 years. She said: “It bothered me to think people could do something like that but I’ve just tried to put it to the back of my mind and carry on. Let those people who did this live with themselves. They have to live with what they’ve done. As far as Eltham’s concerned, I think there are more black people living in Eltham now. I haven’t had any issues with anyone [in regards to race]. We have a university here. If it was such a bad place people wouldn’t send their kids to study here would they?” When asked if she has suffered any racial abuse in Eltham she replied: “Not really. The only time I can remember was when a bunch of kids on the bus shouted something racist but they soon shut up when I said I was an off-duty policewoman.” Her opinion mirrored that of 63-year-old Jennifer Carniffsen who said: “I moved here nearly 10 years ago and I really don’t have a problem with the people around here but I ignore whatever attitude people may have. I haven’t had any racial abuse. I feel safe moving around. I shop here (on the high street) quite
JANUARY 2012 THE VOICE |11
SPECIAL SPECIALEDITION EDITION www.voice-online.co.uk www.voice-online.co.uk often. I don’t have any problems.” She added “What happened to Stephen we can’t deny that it was racism and it was unprovoked. Unfortunately he is gone but I think we [the local community] have learnt a lot of lessons from it and I hope things continue to progress.” Also striking an optimistic note is 19-year-old media student, Tobius Thomas. He said “Visually Eltham hasn’t become more diverse – the
black community here is still small. But racist attitudes have slackened. There is not as much prejudice. This is a good thing because it means that now the two communities can work better together.” BETTER After my experience of visiting the area, I can honestly say I that I’m not as afraid as I was. I can understand why my
friends feel this way. But after seeing for myself what Eltham is like and what the local people had to say I believe that the area has changed for the better since Stephen’s death. Although some people had experienced racial abuse the majority of people I spoke to had not and I think that speaks volumes about the impact that the Lawrence family’s campaign for justice has had.
VIEWS: Eltham residents (left to right) Tobius Thomas, Jennifer Carniffsen and Uche Edezimma. (below) the Stephen Lawrence plaque
MURDER: Bus stop in Eltham where Stephen was killed
Dr June Alexis
The Liberation 1838 project launches a programme of Caribbean History Training on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 January 2012 2012. Another training day is planned for next month. The events will bring together specialists who will share their knowledge with teachers, students, parents, et al, with a view of improving our understanding and appreciation of Caribbean history. Presenters will include Cecil Gutzmore, Dr Kimani Nehusi, Rita Christian, Dr Keith Davidson, and Dr June Alexis, all of whom are specialists with very many years of experience in the study of Caribbean history, literature and education. Topics for discussion include Sam Sharpe, Apprenticeship, Indentureship, the African Caribbean Family - from the First of August 1838 to date, and the Morant Bay rebellion, including the comments of Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, John Stuart Mills, et al.
Saturday 14 January 2012:
Queen Mother Moore School, Nelsons Row, London, SW4 7JR (near Clapham Common underground station) from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Sunday 15 January 2012:
Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Tottenham Green, London, N15 4RX from 11am to 4pm.
Further information, registration, call/text:
077 3727 1437
The project was set up to plan a series of activities in 2013 to mark the 175th anniversary of the First of August 1838 liberation of nearly a million Africans in the Caribbean. It is also about celebrating those who fought to end enslavement, and others who worked in Britain and elsewhere for a better social, economic, and political situation for Caribbean people.
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Published on Jan 11, 2012
A 12-page comprehensive news coverage and reaction to the guilty verdict reached at the Old Bailey trail of two men convicted of Stephen Law...