Today is the 25th anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence – the 18 year old who was killed in an unprovoked racist attack and then his family denied justice by a racist policing system.
Doreen and Neville Lawrence campaigned tirelessly for the crime and the five suspects to be properly investigated and prosecuted. Obstacles were placed in their path and attempts were made to discredit them, with undercover police spying on their campaign.
Eventually, after 18 years, two people were convicted of Stephen’s murder in 2012.
The 1998 public inquiry headed by Sir William Macpherson concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service was institutionally racist. A light had been shone on how black people are treated by Britain’s criminal justice system.
Not all of the inquiry’s recommendations have been implemented, but those that have resulted in important improvements to police practice. The Lawrence family demonstrated how a determined fight can win important reforms.
Despite the senseless brutality that ended Stephen’s life his legacy is one of hope and his name inspires the struggle against racism.