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John Sentamu warns police over racial stereotyping

Mon 23 Apr 2018
By Cara Bentley

The Archbishop of York has said the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence hasn't led to the improvements people think it has.

Stephen Lawrence was 18-years-old when he was murdered by a racist white gang in 1993 at a bus stop by people he didn't know.

During the case, the police received much criticism for prejudiced attitudes towards black people, such as thinking that Lawrence must have been involved in crime to have provoked the attack.

On Sunday, Archbishop John Sentamu said racism was still a problem in the legal system today.

Speaking on Radio 4's Sunday programme, he said: "Because people may be white you assume they're guiltless and when they're black you assume they must be guilty."

Contemplating how to solve this problem he explained: "I think it is a question of better training, people need to be more vigilant and people need to realise that if you stereotype people you end up disadvantaging them.

"How you get this [institutional racism] out of an organisation requires a serious vigilance."

A church service, marking 25 years since Lawrence's murder took place on Monday lunch time at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square in London, and was attended by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 

Dr Rev Sam Wells, vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields told Premier: "We've spent a lot of time reflecting on the pain of the past and it's time now to slightly change the emphasis, remember that Stephen was a young person when he was murdered and put all our efforts together to focus on a future that's bigger than the past."

When asked if race relations have improved since the death, Dr Wells said: "I think those for whom it is a daily reality would say this is something this country is going to have to struggle with for a long time."

Listen to the full interview with Dr Rev Sam Wells and Premier's Cara Bentley:

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