It’s 20 years today since Stephen Lawrence was murdered in Well Hall Road, Eltham. I was cycling around the area yesterday evening, and decided to divert via Well Hall Road to pause at the memorial.
As I wrote when two of his killers were belatedly convicted in 2012, the crime – plus the knowledge that others remain beyond justice – has helped shaped the way I, and others who grew up in south-east London at the time, see the world. Some lives were more precious than others to the Metropolitan Police of 1993, and there are those who argue that not enough has changed.
Pedalling through the pretty Progress Estate, I thought about how times have changed in Eltham since those days, but memories are long.
I stopped to take a photo of the memorial, noting opposite there was a police CCTV van, engine running, keeping watch. As I got ready to leave, an officer approached. As soon as he twigged I was no racist headbanger he was charm personified, but I had to give my name so it could be run through the police national computer. The Met’s top brass were very nervous about the anniversary, he explained.
I pointed out to him that with the greatest of respect, it was a shame the police couldn’t have shown this level of vigilance 20 years ago.
“Well, sir, we all make mistakes.”