At Long Last: Racist Murderers Sentenced in Britain

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Ben Cohen
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Stephen Lawrence

From the Guardian:

The mother of Stephen Lawrence accused the police of putting her through 18 years of grief and uncertainty after witnessing the conviction of two of her son's killers for his racist murder nearly a generation ago.

Outside a grey and rainswept central criminal court in London, to cheers from members of the public and campaigners, Doreen Lawrence said she could not celebrate; all she felt was relief that at last "some sort of justice" had been done, with the jury's unanimous guilty verdicts on Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35.....

It took just a few seconds for the jury foreman to pass judgment on the cutting-edge scientific evidence presented by the crown against Dobson and Norris after years of humiliating failures by the Metropolitan police.

One spot of the dead teenager's blood, a few fibres and two microscopic hairs brought Dobson and Norris – who became suspects within hours of the murder in 1993 – to justice. They will be sentenced on Wednesday. The blood found on the collar of Dobson's jacket was the smallest spot scientists have ever used in a criminal prosecution.

I vividly remember the murder of Stephen Lawrence in London back in 1993. The subsequent trials, police inquiries and political upheaval shaped the Britain I grew up in and forced the nation to take a long hard look at itself. While our politicians portrayed Britain as a tolerant society, the truth was far more complex and uncomfortable. The police bungling over the Lawrence case revealed a stunning lack of professionalism and disregard for the rights of minorities. After the killers were acquitted in the trial, Lawrence's parents launched a tireless campaign to bring them to justice and expose police corruption. The Machpherson inquiry in 1999 revealed institutionlized racism within the Metropolitan police, radically changing how it operated.

While there are still serious problems with racism in the police, Britain is no doubt a better place to live because of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. As my friends and I grew up, casual racism became far less acceptable and although police harassment was still an issue, there were procedures available to combat it. The Britain of today is not perfect, but it has come on leaps and bounds since the senseless killing of Stephen Lawrence.

Sadly, the changes Britain made were at a price that no one should have to pay. A bright young man with a promising future was brutally murdered and two loving parents lost a son.

At least now two of his killers have been brought to justice and his family can try to move on, proud of their contribution to society and proud mostly of their son.

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