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Stephen Lawrence verdict: Birmingham's reaction

KILLED: Stephen Lawrence

THE SENTENCES handed out to the racist killers of Stephen Lawrence have produced a mixed reaction from the community in Birmingham, but all agree that the case involving his murder is far from over.

Veteran community activist Bini Brown, who founded the Handsworth-based African Caribbean Self-Help Organisation, said: “I’m sure if this had involved black youths killing a white boy, they would have got tougher sentences because institutional racism is still alive and kicking out there.

“But the police should also be put in the dock for not dealing with his case properly in the first place. It’s a disgrace that it took 19 years to reach this stage.

“Sadly this type of racist attack is still continuing today – like the young Indian student who was shot dead in Salford on Boxing Day. Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long to convict his killers. I think we will see more racist crimes in this current economic climate.”

Camille Ade-John, a former director of the mental health charity COPE, who has launched Birmingham family Forum, which supports parents bringing up children in the inner-city, said: “I’m pleased that there has been a change for the better in the law over the issue of double jeopardy but it’s tragic that it had to be at the cost of Stephen Lawrence’s life.

“People have been talking about the dignity shown by Stephen’s mother Doreen, as if they are surprised to see that quality in an African Caribbean woman. I had no other expectation of her. She is a woman who has shown great tenacity and determination – not many others would have stood the course and I applaud his parents for that.

“I find it amazing that for all the incompetence shown by the Metropolitan Police, no officer has been convicted for carrying out such disgraceful behaviour.

“However, I feel Stephen’s friend Duwayne Brooks should have some recognition for his courage in helping to bring the killers to justice.”

While community worker Desmond Jaddoo, who is currently the only black candidate who has put himself forward to become Birmingham’s first elected mayor, feels Stephen Lawrence’s parents should be publicly recognised for their work as pioneers in race relations and for helping to change the British legal system for the better.

“I think the judge has given the maximum sentence he was able to give considering the legal restrictions placed upon him,” he said.

“People must not forget that Dobson and Norris will have to go before a parole board before they can ever be considered for release – there’s a strong likelihood they will spend a much longer time in prison.

“It’s such a shame they were juveniles at the time of the murder, otherwise I believe the keys would be thrown away on these two men.

“The only remorse they can show now is to name and shame the rest of the gang involved in Stephen’s murder.”

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