Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stephen Ten Years On

It's ten years since the publication of a pink covered book which altered British society. Infact the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence still sits on my shelf. I came to know the Lawrence family quite well; I was the researcher on a World In Action which featured the case before the change of government brought the inquiry into being, and I met the family and their legal team during the hearings.

The sessions on the top floor of a sixties office block in Elephant and Castle, a number of which I attended for ITN, shocked me to the core and changed the way I view the situation of black people in our country forever. Previously I had absolutely no idea of the level of more or less open racism they were routinely experiencing from a supposedly modern police force. And I couldn't believe the open rudeness from some of the senior officers as they gave evidence under questioning from some of the lawyers. Quite apart from the revelation of monumental incompetence of the police probe into the Lawrence murder my abiding impression was one of utter arrogance brought humblingly to book.

Finally there were the climactic and near violent scenes as the young men named in connection with the killing were brought to give evidence. Monosyllabic answers brought outside by video screens inflamed the crowd. Sneers from them as they came down the ramp outside the shopping centre causing a near riot.

But among other things I'll remember the controlled dignity of Doreen and Neville, and how I admire the way in which Doreen in particular has never given up calmly pointing out that her son has been deprived of justice and remains in that position today.

No comments: