When we were still living in 2011 two men were standing trial for a senseless, racist murder of a young black man. They were accused before and acquitted by lack of evidence never to be able to be put on trial for the same offence again.
Coming from Lowlands Country to the British isles in the early noughties the name Stephen Lawrence and what his murder meant to society and British consciousness was completely unknown to me. In the decade that past I anglified and learnt and my heart lifted when I read the news that after 18 years some justice had been done. I can’t begin to imagine the pain and sense of injustice Stephen’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, must have endured. After intense campaigning, a public inquiry, a change in the law and advancing techniques a case against two of the suspects was reopened resulting in the conviction of both suspects. Only last week the judge urged for the jury to make a clear-headed decision based on evidence alone and I worried for moment. What if these men are to be acquitted again? I thought, even if the evidence is (still) inconclusive these men need to be convicted. For the sake of Stephen Lawrence, his parents, his friends and the nation. I thought if these men were to walk free yet again there would be riots across the country making last summer’s public disobedience look like a minor disturbance.
Once upon a time five men where splashed across the front page of the Daily Mail accused of murdering Stephen Lawrence. Non of them sued the paper for liable. Why? Two of the five, who have been convicted and are to be sentenced today, claim forensic evidence found on their belongings was due to contamination as the belongings of both the accused and Stephen Lawrence where stored in one bag (that was the 20th century). The now-convicted murders did not use an expert witness to argue their case. Why? Can someone displaying the foulest racist language and action change their ways and thinking entirely within 18 years? Possibly. Yet, it doesn’t matter. Although the convicted still need to be sentenced – and they were minors at the time of their crime- painful patience and dignity has some how paid off.
May you rest in peace Stephen Lawrence.