General Poetry posted July 11, 2023

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A Racist Echo!

Stephen Lawrence

by Debbie D'Arcy

This youth should still be here today
Not centre of a famous case,
His life cut short by vicious thugs -
This boy was killed because of race!
With punctured lung and fatal wounds,
And fear so great they'd give him chase,
He ran until his body fell -
This boy was killed because of race!
But though six suspects were detained
There was no legal charge to face
For reasons that became too clear -
This boy was killed because of  race!
So Stephen's mother bravely fought
And to the court with fire and grace
Would bring a private case to bear -
This boy was killed because of race!
But that would fail, the judge would rule
The case lacked solid strength and base,
The suspects were acquitted thus -
This boy was killed because of race!
Then racist motives were exposed -
The Force would need with speed embrace
Some shameful dealings deep within -
This boy was killed because of race!
Two suspects were then sent to court
Where jury found compelling trace
Of guilt some twenty years too late - 
This boy was killed because of race!
But three still free and one is dead,
This bitter shame our land must face
With more reports that scandalise -
This boy was killed because of race!
And Stephen would be fifty now,
A sportsman with dream set in place
To be an architect but no - 
This boy was killed because of race!
As echo of his story tells
A life so cruelly lost at pace
We never must gainsay the truth -
This boy was killed because of race!



This case is notorious in UK history for being one of the highest profile unsolved, racially motivated murders. It has been a chilling indictment on the police, most particularly, but also the Crown Prosecution Service, the judiciary and the law. Stephen's mother is still fighting for justice for her son and has been honoured for her timeless campaign.

Stephen Lawrence (1974 - 1993) was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack whilst waiting for his bus ride home. He was reportedly "engulfed" by a group of six young men who'd taunted him with racial slurs before crossing the road and stabbing him to a depth of 5 inches, severing his arteries and puncturing his lung. He was with a friend who witnessed the crime and gave full details to police. The youths were well-known for previous racist behaviour. Close-knit community allegiances were inevitably an obstructive factor in the investigation.

Six suspects were initially arrested but never charged. A private prosecution was then launched by Stephen's mother but dropped due to "inadmissible evidence."

A momentous report by Macpherson in 1999, following massive public outcry paved the way for the "double jeopardy" rule (exempting defendants from being tried more than once) to be repealed, allowing for a retrial on new and compelling evidence in murder cases. The report also found the police to be "institutionally racist." and, among its many recommendations, "zero tolerance" in all public services to be urgently promoted.

In 2011 only 2 of the original suspects stood trial, their previous acquittals quashed (change of law 2005). They were convicted in 2012 for this "terrible and evil crime." They received life sentences under guidelines in place at the time of the attack and as juveniles under the age of 18. The judge reiterated that this offence was committed through no other reason than "racial hatred" and that the victim was completely "blameless and helpless." This case, he said, should not mark the end of police enquiries.

Since then, no further convictions have been made. Recently, compelling evidence, acquired by an independent researcher, has come to light regarding the case which is still on-going. Sadly, police corruption remains an issue of great concern in the UK with reports of unscrupulous under-cover investigations and deliberate smear campaigns to detract public scutiny from their responses to crime (one such having been initiated against Stephen's family in the past).

Stephen Lawrence was raised in a loving, supportive family. He was studious and ambitious and excelled in running. In response to his ambition to become an architect, an annual architectural award now honours his name. It was said, during the trial, that his ability to run 120 m whilst fatally wounded is testimony to his undeniable sporting fitness; also, I would add, to his utterly desperate need to escape his killers.

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