Comments from Comedian and Honorary Patron of Show Racism the Red Card Ava Vidal.
"I remember where I was when I first heard about the murder of Stephen Lawrence. I think every black person in this country does. I was at sixth form at the time and we spoke about nothing else for weeks. I had moved to London just months earlier after being educated at all white boarding schools. I had been the victim of so much racial abuse I wanted to be somewhere I could blend in. Somewhere that I could feel safe. So when I heard about what happened I was completely shocked. This wasn’t supposed to happen in London where there were so many of us, there was safety in numbers. And when we learned the names of the accused I felt more confusion. They were young too, close in age to Stephen and they surely were too young to think that way. Those attitudes were supposed to be dying out weren’t they? Obviously not.
I learnt more about the area and learned that the British National Party had once had their headquarters there. It has often been pointed out that there were racist killings and attacks in that area before and after Stephen’s death. So what was different about him? That can be summed up in a nutshell. His parents. In the years that followed we saw the determined, dignified fight that his parents Neville and Doreen put up to bring the killers of their son to justice. They fought every obstacle that was put in their way including those placed there by the officers investigating their son’s murder. They stood strong whilst people speculated and tried to sully the good name of their family.
Thanks to the tireless campaigning of the Lawrence family the MacPherson inquiry described as 'one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in British legal history.’ When published the report recommended a series of measures that would subject the police to greater public control, enshrine rights for victims of crime and extend the number of offences classified as racist. Freedom of information and race relations legislation will also apply to the police.
What I learnt from the murder of Stephen Lawrence was that we are not safe from racist attacks anywhere in this country. But I also learnt that because of the Lawrence family these murders were no longer going to able to be swept under the carpet. Now two of the murderers are behind bars, and I hope that we will see the same happen to the other three very soon."
Ava Vidal - Comedian and Patron of Show Racism the Red Card.