Doreen and Neville Lawrence received some vindication when the trial of two of their son’s murderers ended in London yesterday with a guilty verdict. I join with many others here in Britain in celebrating their achievement by persevering in bringing these racist killers to justice after eighteen years of campaigning which has led to anti-racist legislation, a change in the law of double jeapardy and a major report into racism within the police force. I applaud too their refusal to accept this as so-called “completion.” As they said these verdicts will not return their dead son to them. Neither does it mark, as some commentators have claimed, the end of racial prejudice in this country. It has, however made a difference. Mr and Mrs Lawrence have made that difference.
Stephen Lawrence is dead, knifed to death because of his colour by, allegedly, five white racists including Gary Dobson and David Norris who are, so far, the only two to be charged with the murder. They will receive their sentences today and will go to prison for an amount of time deemed appropriate for juvenile offenders, maybe for about 12 years. This is because they were juveniles when they committed the murder. I hope but don’t believe for a moment, that these lenient sentences will also reflect that these notorious men will look back at their hideous crime with horror and feel in their souls that it was a sin of their youth for which they are both thoroughly ashamed.
The truth, from what we have read in the newspapers for eighteen years, is that these men are unrepentant criminals – thugs fired up by unresolved racial hatred.
As has also been widely reported, they were not alone when they murdered Stephen Lawrence – three other men were part of the attack and, every decent person in Britain must hope that they too will, one day, be brought to justice.
We owe it not just to Doreen and Neville Lawrence and not just to the brutally murdered Stephen Lawrence but to our entire nation that this unresolved racist crime is resolved and that the remaining three suspects are not allowed to remain free – they are blots on the landscape of a nation that, we hoped, had learnt better.
When the sentences on the two guilty men are announced today we should remember that racism itself is a juvenile crime whatever the punishment – it is immature, unformulated and totally unjustified but, tragically, it is not just a sin of youth.
It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region’s Amazon site for Kindle orders)
…or from Amazon: