Socialist Worker

19 years fighting for justice: Socialist Worker's first reports on Stephen Lawrence

Issue No. 2284

The page in Socialist Worker the week Stephen was murdered

The page in Socialist Worker the week Stephen was murdered

Socialist Worker was one of the first newspapers to highlight the Stephen Lawrence case. We have been part of the campaign for justice for 19 years and have helped expose how police racism and corruption let the killers walk free for so long.

Below we reproduce some archive Socialist Worker articles from 1993, the year that Stephen was murdered. Tomorrow we will be reproducing some of our coverage from the 1998 Macpherson inquiry into the police’s failure to solve the murder.

Socialist Worker, 1 May 1993

Racist thugs murder again

Eighteen year old Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death last week for being black.

He was the third victim of racist thugs in south east London in just two years. Even the police said the murder was racist.

Stephen was waiting for a bus in Eltham when six white youths shouting racist abuse attacked and stabbed him in the heart and the neck.

He died later in hospital.

His father said, “This was an obscene, senseless murder of a decent hard working young boy. He was chased down the street for no other reason than he was black.”

Stephen’s killing took place just 200 yards from where racists brutally stabbed 16 year old Rohit Duggal to death last year.

And it was just three miles from the scene of the murder of 15 year old Rolan Adams in Thamesmead just over two years ago.

The killings have got to stop.

It is no accident that Rolan’s murder took place after the Nazi British National Party (BNP) opened its headquarters in neighbouring Welling.

Racist attacks in the area have risen dramatically since.

Stephen’s father said last week, “Racist thugs like the BNP should not be allowed to stay here.”

An editorial in the Today newspaper on Monday called for Tory Bexley council to shut down the BNP.

Yet Bexley council refuses to close down the BNP headquarters.

It must be forced to.

Anti Nazi League (ANL) members protested at the murder in Eltham on Saturday. They got 400 signatures on the already 5,000 name petition calling on the council to close the BNP HQ.

Among those petitioning was a relative of Rohit Duggal.

A lobby of the council was planned for this Wednesday.

The ANL, the Indian Workers’ Association and the Greenwich Commission for Racial Equality have called a demonstration for 15 May.

Every trade unionist and community group should pass motions condemning the murder, supporting the demonstration and calling on the council to act.

Socialist Worker, 15 May 1993

‘If the council won’t shut down the BNP, we will’

by Sam Ashman

Up to 5,000 protesters—black and white—marched through south east London last Saturday to show their anger at the racist murder of 18 year old Stephen Lawrence.

As one demonstrator said, “We are here because Stephen Lawrence could have been our son, he could have been anybody’s son, he was killed solely because he was black.”

The demonstrators marched past the headquarters of the Nazi British National Party (BNP). They hurled stones, bricks and bottles at it.

And, despite Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Condon saying he wants to tackle the far right, the police did their utmost to protect the Nazis’ headquarters.

They turned riot police and mounted police against demonstrators, driving people through gardens and up side streets.

Anger is running high.

Stephen’s murder was the third racist stabbing in the area following the deaths of 15 year old Rolan Adams and 16 year old Rohit Duggal.

Rohit was stabbed to death just 200 yards from where Stephen was attacked.

Many of Stephen’s college friends—black and white—joined the demonstration. They were filled with a mixture of sadness and anger.

“Stephen was lovely,” said one. “He was a really nice, gentle boy. He never caused trouble or hurt anyone. He’d go out of his way to say hello to you. I can’t believe that anybody could do this to him.”

Another said, “I’m devastated. Stephen had everything to live for. Something’s got to be done to stop this.”

All agree on one thing—racism in the area has risen since the BNP moved to nearby Welling in 1989.

“Racism is getting stronger when it should be getting weaker,” says a student at Woolwich College.

“Groups like the BNP should not be allowed to exist. There are lots of black and Asian people in this area. The Nazis should not be allowed to persecute us.”

“We know what the BNP do around here,” says one of Stephen’s friends. “They beat up and murder black people for no reason. They went into a pub in Woolwich the other week and just beat up two black guys.

“It’s obvious the BNP have got to be shut down. And if the council isn’t going to do it, we will.”

Stuart Gordon from Plumstead says, “It’s nice to see so many black and white people here together, but it shouldn’t have been another death that caused it.

“We’ve got to get rid of these BNP bastards. Their headquarters should never have been opened in the first place. The council says they can’t shut it down but they can and everyone knows they can.”

Police Protect The Nazi Thugs

Anger over racist murders is being fuelled by what many local people see as police complacency.

Dev Barrah of the Greenwich Action Committee Against Racist Attacks says, “The chief superintendent makes all the right noises about tackling racist attacks. But it does not get down to the officers on the beat. They are thugs.

“They could do much more. Charlton Mosque gets harassed all the time and the police do nothing.

“They did nothing when the chair of the mosque was thumped in the face by a white racist and lost two teeth. We have had to force them to take action.

“If they were looking for drugs they would be on our estates with cameras straight away, but not when it comes to black people’s safety.”

In the last year the action committee has dealt with 50 cases of alleged police harassment of black people.

“The racists who stabbed Rolan Adams are still harassing people on the estate in Thamesmead,” says Dev.

“Only one was imprisoned for that murder. Two others got community service.

“They hang around, breaking windows and abusing people. The police know who they are but do nothing.”

Stuart Gordon from Plumstead says, “There’s a gang of them who hang out near the kebab shop where Rohit Duggal was killed and near where Stephen was killed.

“Four of them chased me and a mate at the start of this year with axes shouting, ‘Black bastards’.

“But they’re not going to stop me going back. My mum is white and my dad is black and I’m proud of it.”

It is only a minority of thugs responsible for the attacks in south east London.

But as a Woolwich college student on the demonstration says, “Directly or indirectly they are to blame for these murders.”

Sharp rise in racist attacks

Racist attacks in the Greenwich area of south London have risen by over 50 percent since the BNP opened its headquarters in nearby Welling three years ago, says the Commission for Racial Equality.

Other bodies put the figure at 140 percent.

The Greenwich Action Committee Against Racist Attacks reports 177 attacks in the last year alone.

They include three serious stabbings:

  • An Asian man was called out of a shop by a white youth and slashed across the face. His wound needed 14 stitches, yet no one was arrested.
  • On the same evening an Asian youth was set upon by a gang of 15 white youths. He was stabbed at least seven times and was lucky to survive.
  • An Asian youth was racially abused and stabbed at the Wimpy in Eltham High Street. The police said the attack was not racially motivated.

Tory Council Ignores Killings

Bexley’s Tory council says it is not within its powers to close down the BNP’s headquarters.

A council spokeswoman says, “The BNP is not an illegal organisation and therefore the council cannot close down the premises unless there are sound reasons for doing so.”

Are three black deaths not “sound reasons” enough?

The campaign to close down the BNP is determined to force the council to eat its words.

Every trade union branch, student union and community organisation should pass motions condemning the council for its stance and support the campaign to close down the BNP.

The Anti Nazi League and the Indian Workers’ Association were planning a march this Saturday, backed by Cheryl Slolely (Stephen Lawrence’s aunt), Greenwich Council, Greenwich NUT and NATFHE, the Rolan Adams Family Campaign and the Rohit Duggal Family Campaign.

Combat 18—why no arrests?

The Nazis do not simply spread their racist filth through newspapers and meetings.

A recent World in Action/Searchlight investigation highlighted the activities of Combat 18, a Nazi organisation dedicated to violent attacks and terror.

Combat 18’s activities range from savage beatings and arson attacks through to threatening phone calls.

It keeps files on leading anti-Nazi campaigners, members of the Jewish community, anti-apartheid activists and Labour Party members.

Combat 18’s bulletins have pictures of Hitler on the front with “Race War” and “Armed Resistance” headlines.

Paul Condon, London’s police commissioner, says the police must tackle the Nazis.

So why is he not organising the arrest of Combat 18 leaders?

Anti-Nazis Protest

Two young Asians in Holloway, north London, were hospitalised on Sunday night after being attacked by racists.

Four Asian teenagers were racially abused by a group of white skinheads.

One of the skinheads returned with a machete and brutally slashed two of the teenagers.

Anti Nazi League members in the area were out petitioning against the attack on Monday night.

The following week

The following week's letters draw parallels with other racist murders in the area

A page on the how the murder is linked to racist and Nazi activity in South East London from 15 May 1993

A page on the how the murder is linked to racist and Nazi activity in South East London from 15 May 1993

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.