Tuesday, January 03, 2012

My heart goes out to Stephen Lawrence's family as racist thugs finally found guilty of murder

I think every parent suffers anxiety at some point at the prospect of losing their child. We all worry that some pathogen or malevolent force will take them from us. Just the thought is enough to teach us the meaning of shivers down our spine. We know, though, that that awful feeling is tiny in comparison to what those who have actually lost a child have to go through.

I have nothing but respect for Stephen Lawrence's parents, Doreen and Neville. They know that their beloved son was murdered in cold blood by a group of racist thugs who took exception to the colour of his skin. 

Stephen Lawrence was born on 13 September 1974 and was murdered on 22 April 1993. That's 18 years, 7 month and 9 days.

From his death, 22 April 1993 to the day two of his killers were found guilty, 4 January 2012 is 18 years 8 months and 13 days.

It should not have taken that length of time for these Gary Dobson and David Norris to be brought to justice. But not only did the Lawrence family suffer the excruciating pain of losing their son, they were then let down by the State so many times.

It just goes to show, though, that people need to persevere, to keep going when they know that they have suffered an injustice at the hands of the state. Mistakes are made and it takes so long for them to be recognised, even when the evidence is clear. It matters not to the establishment that the people affected by their mistakes are going through hell. They have to be forced to realise it and to change their ways. 

It's the dignified persistence of Neville and Doreen Lawrence that led to the public enquiry that branded the Metropolitan Police "institutionally racist", law changes and  now today's verdict. 

I feel for Duwayne Brooks, who must have gone through hell reliving that day yet again during the retrial. He's an inspiring character. To go through something so traumatic and still embark on a life of public service is worthy of huge amounts of respect.

Stephen's family and friends will feel to a certain extent that justice has been done, although there were others there who have not yet been convicted. These last few months will have put them back in touch with a really raw pain and we can't overestimate how hard that will have been for them.

Brian Paddick, friend of Duwayne Brooks and Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate for London, had this to say:
“It is a great relief that after so many years people have been brought to justice for the tragic death of Stephen Lawrence.  
“Many lessons have been learnt and changes made as a result of this case, but there is much more to be done before all Londoners have trust and confidence in the police.”
Yes, some justice has been done, but that doesn't mean the almost two decade ordeal of Stephen's friends and family is anything like over. Keep them in your thoughts tonight.

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