Socialist Worker

Stephen Lawrence murder: The persecution of Duwayne Brooks

Issue No. 2285

Duwayne Brooks was Stephen Lawrence’s best friend and was with him when he was murdered. He was a victim of a racist attack and a witness to that attack.

But the police did not treat him as a victim or a witness. They treated him as a criminal. They falsely accused him of breaking a window and stealing a soft drink from the police station.

When he picked out Neil Acourt and Luke Knight in an identity parade, a police officer angrily accused Duwayne of guesswork. The police subsequently released the pair, telling the media that Duwayne’s evidence hadn’t been good enough.

This constant harassment took its toll on Duwayne. He was a nervous wreck when it came to testifying at the Lawrence family’s 1996 private prosecution against Stephen’s killers.

The hounding got worse after he gave evidence against the police at the 1998 Macpherson inquiry. His car was repeatedly broken into and his work tools repeatedly stolen. He was constantly stopped by police.

Despite all this, Duwayne managed to pull his life back together. He sued the Metropolitan Police, winning £100,000 in compensation in 2006.

And in November, Duwayne stepped into the witness box for the second time to give evidence against Stephen’s killers. His father had died the night before and he briefly broke down in court.

But nevertheless he delivered a devastating testimony. Finally, his account of what happened on the night of 22 April 1993 was listened to—and helped seal the case against two of Stephen’s murderers.

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