I’d like to make a correction in my yesterday’s post, read here. I originally said that this case was now over after yesterday’s news of the two convictions, but I’d like to correct this statement by saying “This case is still far from over”.
The reason why I made this correction, follows, two further developments in Stephen Lawrence case which came to my attention, and which at the time of writing yesterday’s post, were not apparent, or at least not to me.
Firstly: It’s a known fact that, the group that attacked and killed Stephen Lawrence were a total of 5 people. The names of all five I mentioned in my post yesterday. Although, two of the five have eventually been brought to justice with one has been given minimum term of 15 years and 2 months and the other has been given 14 years and 3 months, three suspects remain at large and thus far have evaded justice since 1993. It make sense now to bring the remaining suspects to justice, especially, since they not only have evaded justice but seem to think they were above the law. A welcomed statement from Britain’s top Policeman Bernard Hogan-Howe said “despite almost two decades, the investigation is not closed” and that “others involved in the killing…should not rest easily in their beds”.
Secondly: I made this point yesterday in my post, and I feel the need to mention it again, but with a little more detail. It’s taken just over 18 years to bring about a conviction, and despite the conviction being a better result than any other result in the past 18 years, the satisfaction of this verdict or conviction is muted by why it took so long to get here? Our society would never have changed, and, continue to change if it wasn’t for the sheer hard work and determination of that Doreen and Neville Lawrence put in over the years, mainly to overcome a lack of interest from an inward-looking, complacent – if not outright crooked – police force. It’s still not perfect, and in the near future, can never be. Doreen and Neville Lawrence have forced institutions to have a hard look at their own mind-sets, and more importantly highlighted to the wider population, the exact problems we face.
By digging a little deeper, around the past race related events of Eltham I come to realise Stephen Lawrence was not the only victim of racist murder. In July 1992, Rohit Duggal aged 15 was murdered only a few hundred yards from where Stephen Lawrence died. Eventually, years later, the Macpherson report had recorded evidence that Rohit Duggal’s killer(s) was one of the same gang responsible for Stephen’s death. In Thamesmead, Feburary 1991 Rolan Adams aged 15 was to lose his life to racial motive killing.
Seeing news reports and documentaries one after the other, in the recent days, indicated a common sighting, especially during the scenes of demonstrations followed after the frustration of Lawrence boiled over to demonstrations. Placards held by people during these demonstrations clearly condemned the presence of British National Party (BNP) in the area. Somewhere during these events, lurking in the background was the influence of the British National Party. It was known that only a few miles away, a bookshop covertly operated as a British National Party head office in Upper Wickham Lane, Welling.
Although, from the zenith Eltham appears to be a place which harbours racists, not just the murderers of Steven Lawrence, but it was, after all, the people and community of Eltham who gave up the names of the suspects from which two yesterday were convicted. It was indeed the local “Institutional Racist” Metropolitan Police, who decided that the death of a black man just wasn’t worth the investigation, and it was never the wider community of Eltham with that view.
Unfortunately, the problem expands throughout the United Kingdom, there are places that remain a soft target for those who seek to stir and divide people. The role played by the British National Party in the Bradford Riot(s) in July 2001 is a clear reminder of that, they just didn’t stop there, their motives and intention were abruptly apparent by major other riots around neighbouring cities before reaching Bradford.
Almost two decades later, what has changed and how much has changed? Until Politian’s and others, either locally or nationally, don’t stop whipping up tensions, places like Eltham will remain soft spots for racial divide and may never escape the spectre of racism.
As I write this post, there remain three more suspects, who have, so far evaded justice in Eltham. Throughout the country, many more such cases similar to this case, and, some have briefly hit the headlines, and especially since post-9/11 and 7/7. However, circumstance in each individual case determines the course of justice, and in most cases, the lack of determination shown by Lawrence’s parents is missing, or the, institutions simply can’t afford to have another Stephen Lawrence Murder-like case on the horizon. Racist Murder(s) and Racist Crime are more wide spread, more than we are led to believe.
Nearly two decades one, and with the recent verdicts, have at least for now, brought to attention the problem our society faces. Communities such as Eltham at least now can begin to heal from the wounds over the last 18 years. Victims of such racist murder(s) and racist crime(s) are not just the people directly attacked, but those who lived with them, went to school with them and the community who lived around them – the family of Lawrence, Neville and Doreen Lawrence lost their own lives over the last 18 years, as well as their son Stephen Lawrence – nothing can bring back what they have lost. What happened that night was a great loss but from this loss the sheer determination by Neville and Doreen has helped change and improve our society, and the various institutions that swear to protect us, no matter what race or colour we are. We owe it to them and those alike who fought to bring justice for all of us.
So, to bring the focus back to my original point that this case still remains open, thus far after 18 years two have been brought to justice but I really can’t help thinking that until the remaining members of the group are not put on trail and convicted, there still will remain uncertainties around this whole cases, with some way to go. I also feel we have a long way to go yet to understand why this case has taken 18 years to prosecute 2 out of 5 suspects? Some ownership, responsibility and accountability of the failings at institutional level need to be investigated, and to bring to light those sectors which contributed to the failure(s). Until these questions are answered, we may well still have to fight for truth and justice.