Socialist Worker

The murder that revealed extent of police racism

Issue No. 2253

The battle to find the killers of Stephen Lawrence transformed public opinion about the police and state institutions.

It was a defining moment in British politics at the end of the 1990s.

The Macpherson Inquiry, launched nearly five years after Stephen’s murder, exposed what the majority of ordinary people had come to believe—that the Metropolitan police are institutionally racist.

The government intended the inquiry to blame a few “rogue” officers.

But they could not stop the racism that shaped the police’s behaviour from surfacing.

That is why, after the inquiry, there was a concerted effort by top police and the Home Office to clean up the police’s public image.

But Labour and the Tories have bent over backwards to extend police powers.

Figures for the stop and search of black and Asian people are rising.

Socialist Worker wrote in 2006 that the words of Doreen Lawrence, Stephen’s mother, appeared prophetic. They are as relevant today.

She said that the police had investigated her son’s killing like “white masters during slavery”.

She added, “Black people are still dying on the streets. Nothing has changed.”

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Tue 24 May 2011, 17:59 BST
Issue No. 2253
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