BY CALUM FRASER
More than 50,000 people have backed a petition calling for a statue of Stephen Lawrence in central London.
The petition was launched this week after Home Office figures revealed that hate crimes in England and Wales had shot up by 17 per cent in the last year. Three quarters of these crimes – 71,251 – were racially motivated.
Stephen was murdered at a bus stop in Eltham by a group of racist thugs in 1993.
Iman Atta, who started the campaign, said: “It’s been 25 years since Stephen’s death – but the hatred and violence has not subsided.
This statue would prove, as a symbol, that the UK is standing strong against hatred.”
The campaign is calling on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to install the statue of Stephen in Trafalgar Square to stand alongside monuments to other British heroes.
Stephen’s parents, Neville and Doreen Lawrence, fought for years to bring their son’s murderers to justice. Almost 20 years after his death, two men, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were found guilty of Stephen’s murder.
It is believed that three others were involved in the attack who have not been prosecuted.
A public inquiry, headed by Sir William Macpherson, into the case concluded in 1999 with a report that said the Met was institutionally racist and that it had mishandled the investigation.
Ms Atta, director of charity Tell MAMA which supports victims of anti-Muslim hate crime, said: “He was brutally murdered by a gang of five youths.
His murder was an unprovoked attack and his family’s fight for justice in the investigation that followed, put the country’s racism in the spotlight.
“His case shook the UK and hate crime today is still shaking people’s lives.
The course for justice is still unclear, even in Stephen’s case only two killers have been convicted.
“That’s why it still matters and it’s why I’m calling on the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to have a statue of Stephen Lawrence in Trafalgar Square, so that we never forget the plight of Stephen and that of all those who have been persecuted in the UK.
“Working with communities across the UK, and being director of the hate crime monitor group Tell MAMA, I see first-hand the atrocities and divisions created when we don’t come together and take a stand. Stephen’s statue, in our capital, will remind us of that.”
Prime Minister Theresa May announced this year that April 22, the day he was murdered, would be annually commemorated as Stephen Lawrence Day.
We contacted the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust but they did not want to comment.
To sign the petition, go to https://www.change.org/p/sadiq-khan-build-a-statue-for-stephen-lawrence-in-trafalgar-square