Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Home WOLRD UK Doreen Lawrence recalls being stopped by police shortly after son's killing

Doreen Lawrence recalls being stopped by police shortly after son’s killing

Doreen Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993, has told how she was stopped by police while driving late at night shortly after the killing.

Giving evidence to parliament’s joint committee on human rights on Monday during an inquiry on “Black people, racism and human rights”, Lady Lawrence recalled her experience of being pulled over due to what she implied was racial profiling.

The peer had been heading home through the streets of south London not long after her son was stabbed to death and realised she was being followed by a police car.

“They continued to follow me and then they flashed me to stop,” she said. “They said I needed to get out of my car. I said: ‘I’m a woman, it’s late at night and I don’t want to get out of my car.’”

There were two officers, a man and woman. “Eventually I got out and they were telling me that they know the pub is not too long closed and that I was driving erratically.

“If anyone knows the black community, especially a woman, we are not coming out of pubs and this was after twelve [midnight]. So these are the issues that people in the black community are suffering from.

“When I challenged it the following day, the answer was that they thought the car was stolen … That was their excuse.”

Her testimony emerged on the day the Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams accused police officers of racially profiling her and her partner after they were stopped in their car.

Lawrence told MPs and peers: “[Officers] see anyone driving a high performance car, they associate it with people doing drugs. The police don’t understand that young, professional people can afford to buy these cars. Why shouldn’t they?”

Giving evidence to the same hearing, the shadow justice secretary, David Lammy, called for the return of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) to provide a more effective mechanism to hold the government to account on race issues.

“It was a mistake to have got rid of the CRE,” he said, arguing that the Equality and Human Rights Commission, into which it has been folded, does not have sufficient resources and focus for that role.

Nor does the UK have large charities, like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the US, to challenge the government on race, Lammy said. “It’s why the government gets away with not implementing recommendations from successive reviews. There’s no oversight.”

Wendy Williams, author of the highly critical report into the Windrush scandal, told the committee she feared a fresh wave of discrimination could be triggered by regulations that require landlords and employers to check whether those they are dealing with have British passports. A “risk averse” preference could reinforce prejudices, she feared.

Lord Woolley of Woodford, the founder and director of Operation Black Vote, said he believed government proposals for ID checks at polls could significantly set back the cause of voter registration.

It was already an “uphill struggle” to persuade individuals who have to deal with the police on the street to make the effort to register before elections, Woolley said.


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