Today we remember Stephen Lawrence, 13.09.74 - 22.04.1993
Racism has always been a matter of life and death. This was never more true than for Stephen, who was murdered by racist strangers as he made his way home with a friend, 28 years ago today.
It was not only his killers who targeted Stephen with racism. The behaviour of the police - from those first on the scene, to those who handled the disastrous investigation into his murder and dealt closely with his family - was characterised at every stage by racist treatment and bias in the system.
Significant questions were raised on accountability in the criminal justice system and whether Black and minority communities and families were treated fairly.
The fight for justice that followed, led by Stephen’s grieving parents, is one for the history books.
The seminal Macpherson Report (1999) recognised unequivocally that the Metropolitan Police Force was ‘institutionally racist,’ an unprecedented finding at the time. Many of events in the wake of Stephen’s murder, including race equality legislation no less, still inform and influence our racial justice work today.
It took 18 years, the length of Stephen’s life, before two of his murderers were convicted. Last August, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, the Metropolitan Police declared Stephen’s case ‘inactive’, citing no further lines of enquiry.
Three of Stephen’s killers still roam free.
In the wake of the verdict on George Floyd’s murderer, today in the UK we honour Stephen Lawrence, and his families efforts to end institutional racism.
As Stephen’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence has said on several occasions, the many positive strides towards race equality in the wake of his death cannot ever compensate for the loss of her beloved son.
So today, we simply remember a bright young man who dreamed of becoming an architect.
Rest in Eternal Power, Stephen.