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Met police yet to reckon with institutional racism, says Stuart Lawrence

As a new government report says institutional racism doesn’t exist in the UK, Stuart Lawrence warns the Met are yet to fully learn from his brother Stephen’s death.

Stuart Lawrence

Photo courtesy of Stuart Lawrence

Stephen Lawrence’s brother Stuart Lawrence has warned that the Metropolitan Police has not fully reckoned with institutional racism, 22 years after the Macpherson Report.

Stephen was murdered in a racially-motivated attack in 1993. The inquiry into the killing saw Sir William Macpherson report that the Metropolitan Police was ‘institutionally racist’.

“Sir Paul Condon [former Metropolitan Police Commissioner] never accepted that the Met police was institutionally racist,” said Lawrence.

“Condon didn’t own up to it. So, when Cressida Dick comes out and says, ‘We are no longer institutionally racist’, I start scratching my head.

“When did you say that you were institutionally racist? When was that point, so that we could draw the line in the sand and say, that’s where it was and now we’re moving forward from this point? That’s what needed to happen. It hasn’t happened yet.”

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Lawrence’s warning comes as a major government report insists that institutional racism doesn’t exist in the UK.

The race report was commissioned in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests and was published on March 31.

It said the UK has become a “more open society” and that issues around race and racism were “becoming less important”.

Their research concluded that children from all communities perform just as well as white pupils in school.

Speaking to The Big Issue before the report was released, Lawrence – a teacher himself – said education remains an issue.

He emphasised that what pupils are taught is as important as how well they do in exams.

Lawrence says that he thinks what his son learns in school about history is too narrow, and doesn’t have enough relevance to his community.

“He’s just been learning about Henry VIII and his lovely wives. And I question myself, why does he need to know that stuff?” he said.

“I remember learning about Sir Francis Drake in the Spanish Armada. No one said to me about the cotton, or the tobacco trade, or the sugar trade, and what the consequences of all those things were. That was quite happily pushed to one side.”

Father and son are reading history books such as David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History to plug the gaps.

“It was great to be able to, to start a conversation with him about these sorts of things,” Lawrence added.

Read more from Stuart Lawrence in next week’s Big Issue, out from April 5.

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