Black people still second class citizens in Britain-Stephen Lawrence dad
London, June 10, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The father of Stephen Lawrence has said black people are still treated as second-class citizens in Britain, with police breaking promises to change they made two decades ago after being shamed by their failure to find his son’s racist killers.
Lawrence said racial injustice in Britain was worse than it should be and that the government, from the prime minister down, was not doing enough.
Revealing his continuing exasperation with UK policing, he said it was still institutionally racist, as shown by stop and search disproportionately targeting black people.
Lawrence, 78, said statues such as that of the slave owner Edward Colston, which was pulled down and dumped in Bristol harbour at the weekend, were “offensive” and should not have been left up in the first place. However, he warned against violence and voiced concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
On Tuesday, protests moved to Oxford, with more than 1,000 gathering to demand the removal of a statue of the Victorian imperialist Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College.
It came as Britain’s head of counterterrorism, Neil Basu, denounced racial bias in UK institutions and society, and said protesters had legitimate aims that should not be tarnished by a violent minority.
In an internal post for officers, the most senior BAME officer in policing wrote: “What we are seeing in America, and here in the UK, too, is anger directed not just at police brutality but the racial bias built into the very fabric of our institutions and society – perhaps best illustrated in the UK by the huge disparity in young black men in the criminal justice system
“Meanwhile, recent reports describe how BAME communities are not only more likely to die as a result of Covid-19, they have also been disproportionately affected by the way we have policed lockdown rules. This disparity is seen in education, in health, in the workplace – it’s everywhere – and it’s a daily lived experience for many.”
Basu said he felt moved to see officers take a knee at the weekend, adding: “We must confront the fact that with many of our communities – especially the black community – we still have a long way to go.”
Lawrence’s 18-year-old son, Stephen, was murdered in 1993 by a racist gang in south-east London, with police bungling the investigation.
He and his wife, Doreen, now Lady Lawrence, spent years fighting the police, who denied wrongdoing, and won a public inquiry which in 1999 found errors were down to incompetence and “institutional racism”.
Police promises to reform and enshrine racial justice in the ranks, Lawrence said, were not delivered and he still had no idea when they would be kept. “I thought when they came out they would be respected and done in quick time, so people can see they are making the force more fair.
“It was not done in quick time, it’s not been done, I don’t know when it will be done – we should not be talking about it 21 years later. They have fallen way, way short. Twenty-one years short.”
The 2017 Lammy review concluded that “BAME individuals still face bias, including overt discrimination, in parts of the justice system”. It showed that, while black people comprise 3% of the overall population in England and Wales, they made up 12% of its prison population, with the percentage of black people in prison higher in relation to their share of the general population than the corresponding figure in the US. Just 1.2% of police officers in England and Wales are black, official data shows.