On 22nd April 1993, an 18-year-old black man called Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths as he waited at a bus stop with his friend Duwayne Brookes. The next day the names of the white youths were left in a telephone box so the police would know who was involved in the killing. 

Five suspects were arrested but any who were charged had the charges dropped by the police before it came to trial. It was said that there was not enough evidence. Stephen’s mum and dad kept fighting for justice and said that the police were not interested in capturing their son’s killers because he was black. 

In September of 1994, Stephen’s parents launched a private prosecution against the suspects. Some of the charges against the suspects were dropped before the trial and in the trial the judge said the evidence of Duwayne Brookes was unreliable. Under UK law at the time the suspects could not be tried again under something called the ‘Double Jeopardy’ law – as this law meant you could not be tried for the same crime twice. 

Both Stephen’s parents were determined not to give up and continued to campaign for justice for their son. An inquiry was held into how the police handled the situation and they were found to be institutionally racist in a published report called the MacPherson report. This meant that it was accepted that racism was a normal behaviour within the police. This also meant that it was acknowledged that black people would have to fight so much harder for justice than white people. 

Stephen’s parents also fought to have the Double Jeopardy Rule changed. This happeded in 2005 and meant that 2 of Stephens killers, Gary Dobson and David Norris were put on trial again and convicted in 2012. The Metropolitan police are no longer investigating the other suspects but can bring others to trial if evidence comes to light. 

Stephen Lawrence Day in on April 22nd each year. He has a charity foundation set up in his name which aims to give young people especially from ethnic backgrounds the opportunities Stephen had taken away from him. 

Stephen’s mum, Baroness* Lawrence said: 

“Justice for Stephen is about all of us, every one of us, in society having justice. There are still too many young people who do not have a sense of hope, who just don’t get the chance to live their dreams. I want all our children and young people to feel inspired, be confident and have hope in their own future. We are building hope but there is more to do.” 

*Stephen’s mum, Doreen Lawrence, was appointed to the British House of Lords in 2013 for her bravery, campaigning and her commitment to justice for Stephen.

Treehouse Login

Not Joined Treehouse?