Today is the anniversary of the Murder of Stephen Lawrence who was killed in London on 22nd March 1993. A great deal has happened as a result of his death, primarily because of the way that his murder was dealt with by the Metropolitan Police initially. One of our local MPs is Peter Bottomley who is the Worthing West MP and he was the MP for Stephen Lawrence in London at the time of his death. A few days after the death of Stephen, Peter spoke about him in the House of Commons with this comment:
When one of my constituents, Stephen Lawrence, was murdered recently, I would have liked to have had the chance to raise in the House the unprovoked racial attack which resulted in the murder of a fine young man who was black. There may be another occasion when I can do that, but I wish to say to his family that issues relating to terrorism are no more important than the incident which caused them such suffering.
There is still a great deal of work to be carried out on that theme and indeed many MPs have spoken about Stephen in the past. So far there have been 600 references and we need the Government to continue to deal with this theme! Along with the need to improve our Nations work there is also the importance for us to acknowledge his death. One of my contacts at the Evangelical Alliance group is Gavin Calver who is the CEO. He wrote a few days ago with this first few words
|I was 13 years old and living in south east London not far from where Stephen Lawrence was brutally murdered back in 1993. His murder sent shockwaves through the community and the nation, and we all hoped that much would change as a result. Thirty years on, it’s really sad that racism still exists here in the UK, and it is my hope and prayer that in the years ahead the church would be part of the solution, modelling unity and brother- and sister-hood, across all ethnicities. Our director of public policy Danny Webster has written this article on this Saturday’s anniversary.|
Danny Websters is a person I have worked with in the past and the beginning of his piece is below:
30 years on from the death of Stephen Lawrence – there is still much work to do
Over the past three decades evangelicals have been at the forefront of advocating for change in policing that serves everyone and is not marred by racism.
The murder of Stephen Lawrence
On 22 April 1993, Stephen Lawrence was murdered in Eltham, South London. The ensuing investigation, failed prosecutions, both public and private, exposed failings in the police. There was widespread concern that the racially motivated killing of Stephen was met with racially prejudiced policing which led to a failed investigation of the crime and was responsible for the failure to secure a conviction.
In 1997, the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, commissioned an inquiry into the investigation which led to the publication of the Macpherson Report in 1999. This report found that the police investigation had been incompetent and made fundamental errors, as well as concluding that the Metropolitan Police was fundamentally racist. It also concluded that recommendations from a previous report looking into policing of the race related riots in Brixton and Toxteth had not been followed.
One of the recommendations of the report was to abolish the rule which prevented suspects from being tried twice for the same crime. This led to two of the original suspects being convicted in 2012.
The piece by Danny is worth reading on his website as it covers a great deal more information than I have included. Along with his document I have been actively involved in the Police Independent Advisory Group which has been formed in Sussex 20 years ago as a result of one of the elements that was proposed in 1999 by Sir William Macpherson which called for this section:
That in creating strategies under the provisions of the Crime & Disorder Act or otherwise Police Services, local Government and relevant agencies should specifically consider implementing community and local initiatives aimed at promoting cultural diversity and addressing racism and the need for focused, consistent support for such initiatives
There are clearly other requirements in addition to the Police forces so there is still a lot more requirements and indeed Sussex Police have included this text in Facebook today
Today marks 30 years since the murder of Stephen Lawrence. On #StephenLawrenceDay, we commemorate his life that was taken away by a racially motivated attack in London. We extend our thoughts to his family and friends and reflect on his legacy. #BecauseOfStephen