Dobson and Norris Guilty of Stephen Lawrence murder



Doreen, Neville and the rest of the Lawrence family have had to wait nearly 19 years for justice to be done. Today at the Old Bailey, - a jury of their peers found Gary Dobson and David Norris guilty of Stephen’s murder.

The murder itself was savage. Stephen’s best friend Duwanye Brooks described the attack as a ‘pack of animals’ savaging its prey . But the handling of the case exposed a level of racism that was to literally rock the establishment. After years of relentless campaigning Jack Straw capitulated to the demands of Doreen Lawrence flanked by Bernie Grant and Paul Boteng. Jack Straw announced in the run up to the 1997 general election, at an OBV/1990 Trust event, that if Labour won there would be a Public inquiry into Stephen’s death.

In what was one of the most exhaustive Public Inquiries of its kind Judge Macpherson’s conclusion was to lead to a nation and its institutions to engage in a soul searching process to confront the nations systemic prejudice towards Black people.

Focusing on the Metropolitan police force the report said the Met could no longer hide behind the much used phrase, ‘We have no racism here, just occasionally one rotten apple in barrel’. Macpherson, articulated what many Black people knew for a very long time the level of racial prejudice was not the preserve of ‘a rotten apple’, but an ingrained culture, delivered through policy and practice. A practice that routinely viewed Black people as criminals, there to be used and abused.

Machperson’s brilliant articulation –institutional racism -could easily translate,- in varying degrees- to every institution in the country. Much of its brilliance was to precisely move the debate away from the ‘one bad apple’, to say, ‘sometimes we collectively act in a prejudice way and we don’t even know we are doing it’. Macpherson suggested we look at the data: Stop and Search findings for example indicated that something was going badly wrong. Looking at the data suggested that if everyone was being treated fairly how do we account for these shocking statics, in which Black people in education, health, employment, housing and the criminal justice system are failed so badly?

A nation was forced confront these monumental questions, which it did for a very short time. The Oldham Riots, the Twin towers of 9/11 and closer to home underground bombings of 7/7 largely put paid to that. Effectively tackling race inequality would eventually fall off the agenda. Tackling home grown terrorism and a gorging of Islamaphobia has marked out the last decade.

But today is a celebration of sorts, first to the resilience of the Lawrence family. Praise too to a police force that never gave up. But in our joy of finding closure in this case, we must sadly be reminded, the gains of institutional change are once again being eroded, and a number of police forces have on their doorsteps a number of controversial Black deaths whilst in their custody.

Right now though lets rejoice for Doreen, Neville and rest of the Lawrence family. Our justice system has done us proud.

Simon Woolley

Archived Comments

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We have a judiciary made up

We have a judiciary made up almost entirely of white Judges from a particular background. The Judiciary is structurally institutional racist. Yet they have been exempt from Euqality Act 2010. We need a root and branch reform now. Lord Judge and Lord Neuberger are both paid twice as much as the Prime Minister, If they are not capable in bringing in reform within a specific time frame, they should resign.

Finally ... British Justice delivers

I know this has been a long time coming, and I fully appreciate the pain and the suffering that the Lawrence family have endured over the years. But finally, Justice has been done. I have always had a blind faith in British Justice - I am glad that it has finally (long overdue) been delivered in this case. Well done to the Lawrence family for staying strong, hanging in there, fighting on and never giving up. I wish I could follow their example!