Gary Dobson and David Norris have finally been convicted of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, almost two decades after a racist white gang stabbed the then 18 year old to death while he was waiting for a bus in South London.
Dobson, 36 and Norris, 35 were part of the five man gang suspected of committing the murder in the immediate aftermath of Mr Lawrence’s death. Within 48 hours, 26 sources reported the gang to be responsible and the evidence became so overwhelming that the Daily Mail decided to publish the headline; “Murderers: The Mail accuses these men of killing Stephen Lawrence. If we are wrong, let them sue us.” Beneath the title were pictures of Dobson, Norris and the three other men who have yet to be charged; Luke Knight, Neil Accourt and his brother Jamie Accourt.
However, they managed to escape justice due to flawed Police investigations which led an independent inquiry to the conclusion that the force itself was “institutionally racist” in 1999. As the years passed by it seemed as though the Lawrence family would never be granted justice for their son and so understandbly many are overjoyed at the verdict.
It’s been a very long time coming. “Stephen Lawrence” is currently trending on Twitter as more and more people take to social networks to voice their opinions including Duane Brooks who was with Stephen Lawrence on that fateful night.
“Some Justice at last” he tweeted. The parents of Stephen Lawrence, Noreen and Nevile will no doubt also be relieved and have shown tremendous persistance in thier battle for Justice.
However we must remember that the battle for justice is still ongoing, this in no way proves that the British Judicial system works. It took 18 years, 8 months and 12 days for just two of the five members of the gang responsible to be jailed, Stephen Lawrence only lived 18 years, 7 months and 9 days.
The two men who were jailed were dispensable; in the years following Stephen Lawrence’s death a number of them were repeatedly accused of racism and assault. This year has seen several black men die in Police Custody under the suspicious of circumstances.
21 year old Demetre Fraser was visited by two Police officers in what should have been a routine tag check. Instead he supposedly “jumped” from the 11th floor of the high rise block he was staying in to his death. Smiley Culture’s house was subject to a random drug search and during the search we are to believe that he took a knife and plunged it into his own heart, even though no drugs were found at his residence.
Jacob Michael was handcuffed and then beaten to pulp by numerous Police officers in front of several witnesses before being taken to a Cheshire police station. A few hours later, he was dead. Let’s not forget Kingsley Burrell and Mark Duggan as well. The later was a victim of the mainstream media, who portrayed him as a sinister drug dealer to prevent the public from sympathising with him after the London riots broke out.
No Police officer has been charged in relations to these deaths and the families of the victims have been left without real answers and justice.
Almost 350 men have died in Police Custody since 1998 and not a single officer has been convicted, even those who committed blatant murder. Go back even further to 1969, over 1000 people died in or shortly following Police custody and not a single officer has been sentenced.
Justice is as elusive as ever, particularly for those of us in the black community. While we should be happy with the Stephen Lawrence verdict, we cannot forget that this is an ongoing struggle. We can’t forget the fact that black people are eight times more likely to be jailed than their white counterparts. The battle is far from over.