It was good news that Stephen Lawrence’s killers were finally brought to book, I cannot remember any murder case before that has attracted quite so much publicity or any trial that received so much news time on TV. I am not complaining, it was a brutal killing that horrified and offended every decent person. I was struck, however, by a letter that appeared in a national newspaper after the trial.
The point that they were making was that the case attracted so much attention, not just because of the racist element, but because it was an unprovoked attack by white men on a black man. They pointed out, however, that, in 1993, in Camden N London, a white youth, 15year old Richard Everitt, was murdered in an unprovoked attack by a Bengali gang. As in the Lawrence case, the attackers had expressed violent racist views. Eleven Bengali men were arrested but only two were charged. One was found guilty of violent disorder and served 18months, the other was found guilty of murder and served 11years.
In the Lawrence case the Home Secretary visited the site of the murder, where a public monument was erected. Stephen Lawrence became a household name, hardly anyone remembers the name of Richard Everitt.
It does seem as though we have reacted strongly to the murder of a black youth by white men in a racist attack, perhaps because we, as white people, feel a sense of shame, anger, maybe even a sense of guilt, but we seem to prefer to ignore the fact that non-white people are capable of violent racist attacks and choose to minimise the news coverage of any such cases. I suspect that, quite often in the case of a violent crime, they are careful to avoid mentioning that the attacker was black.