“My son was murdered because of racism and you cannot forget him. Once you start covering it up, it gives racists the green light. You imagine what will happen tomorrow. What will happen in our streets with our young people? You give the green light to racists, ”said Lady Lawrence.
His comments follow an outcry over the 258-page Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) report, which claimed that the term “structural racism” was “too liberally used” and that factors such as context socio-economic, culture and religion had a “more significant impact on life chances”.
Shortly after the report was released, the government admitted that a “considerable number” of testimonies – particularly ethnic minorities – had in fact told the commission that structural racism was a real problem.
Speaking hours after the report was released at a virtual event hosted by De Montfort University in Leicester, Lawrence said: “When I first heard about the report, my first thought was that ‘he pushed [the fight against] racism dates back 20 years or more.
“I think if you talk to someone whose employer talks to them in a certain way, where do you go now?” If a person is up for promotion and was turned down, where does they go now?
“You know, all these things that we’ve been working for and showing that structural racism exists – we’re talking about the pandemic when you look at how many of our people have died, all the nurses, the doctors, the frontline staff, from Covid. , and that this report denies that these people suffered?
“They deny that people like my son were murdered for racism and the fact that it took 18 years to get justice for him. The report denies all of these problems. ”
Stephen Lawrence’s death in 1993 sparked the 1998 public inquiry led by Sir William Macpherson. Macpherson reviewed the police investigation into Stephen’s death and ruled that the Metropolitan Police were institutionally racist.
The 1999 publication of the Macpherson report has been called one of the most significant moments in modern British criminal justice history.
Lawrence told audience Wednesday night that the new report seeks to undermine and deny progress since his son’s death.
“Those people who paraded for Black Lives Matter?” It is to deny all this. George Floyd stuff? It is all denied. So those behind this report [saying] whether racism does not exist or no longer exists, we need to talk to young boys who are constantly being arrested and searched in the streets. They need to talk to these young people.
“They [the report authors] are not in touch with reality, fundamentally. This is what it boils down to. When you’re privileged, you don’t have those experiences, ”she said.
Lawrence and his lawyer Imran Khan were speaking at a public event hosted by the Stephen Lawrence Research Center at De Montfort University.
The event had been planned in advance to discuss Leicester’s plans to mark Stephen Lawrence National Day on April 22, but the conversation quickly turned to the report released Wednesday morning by CRED, which had been put in place after the Black Lives Matter protests last summer. .
Lawrence and Khan fought for 18 years to secure convictions against two of Stephen’s murderers. The Macpherson Report concluded that the police investigation into the murder had been “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and management failure.”
Lawrence’s comments came to light the day a British policeman was the first to be convicted of membership in a neo-Nazi terrorist organization.
PC Ben Hannam, 22, was convicted of belonging to the banned right-wing extremist group National Action (NA) following a trial at Old Bailey.
Downing Street declined to comment on Lawrence’s criticism. A UK government spokesperson said: “The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities has now been released. The government will respond to the recommendations in due course. ”
Khan said of the new report: “I was shocked. I was absolutely shocked. It’s incredible. One of the Lawrence Inquiry panel members coined the phrase “a specter of reality” because when we were talking about racism in the inquiry around the time Stephen was murdered, there was a reality of those who experienced racism and there was another reality of the [police] agents and institutions.
“So what this panel member said is you have to go through this spectrum of reality. This is what reminds me of today.
“These reporters live in a completely different reality than those going about their business on the very day I watch the trial in the United States. [of the police officer accused of murdering George Floyd], you have that.
“What reality do the authors occupy when they see statistics on stops and searches and statistics on the number of blacks in the prison system or the disproportionate number of people convicted, etc.?
“The data completely undermines this report and you wonder if this is the kind of thing we got immediately after the Lawrence investigation – indeed, during the Lawrence investigation – from police officers saying, ‘There is no institutional racism, ‘and then after that they said,’ Well, there was, so now we’ve changed it. ”
“And that, unfortunately, gives those who wish to peddle racism an opportunity now. They got the green card to say, “I’m not a racist. Racism does not exist ”.
“So I’m afraid, as Doreen rightly says, that this will put the issue of anti-discrimination and racism back at 20 years old. We are back to square one. Disappointing is an understatement.
“It’s shocking and, in order not to put too blunt a point on it, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. I have a client on a client who complains of racism on the left, right and center. Nobody told me about it. I wonder who they told about it and what is it for?
“Is this government trying to draw a line under issues of racism because it doesn’t want to face it? Because facing racism is difficult. This requires changes and this government does not want to do it. Individuals and institutions do not want to do it. So, we are in a really tough race.
A CRED spokesperson said the report found evidence of outright racism in the UK and made strong recommendations for the Equality and Human Rights Commission to receive more resources.
The spokesperson said: “The report also highlights many successful examples among our ethnic minority groups, in education and health, which we need to recognize and learn from.
“The commissioners also made it clear that factors such as deprivation, geography, family structure and gender all deserve to be considered before confirming that racial discrimination leads to different outcomes between groups and this is indicated. in the report we presented to the government. ”