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One Of Us - A Stephen Lawrence Tribute

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Twenty years ago, 
he is waiting for a bus,
'Cos twenty years ago 
he is simply one of us.
But just twenty years ago, 
he comes under attack,
Just 'cos twenty years ago, 
this teenager is black.

Twenty years ago, 
he runs for his life,
'Cos twenty years ago, 
racists stick him with a knife.
Twenty years ago, 
this firework is far too fleeting,
And so twenty years ago, 
his brave heart, it will stop beating.

But twenty years ago, 
when the officers arrive
Yes just twenty years ago, 
this young man is still alive!
But twenty years ago, 
no compassion is displayed,
When twenty years ago, 
none will administer first aid.

Twenty years ago, 
justice is not expected.
Twenty years ago, 
perpetrators are protected,
As twenty years ago, 
the system is unfair
And twenty years ago, 
it seems too many do not care.

Twenty years ago, 
we were right to doubt those wearing blue
And though this was twenty years ago, 
to this day, many still do.

So twenty years have passed, 
since he came under attack.
Yes twenty years have passed 
since he was killed for being black.
Twenty years have passed, 
since he waited for a bus.
And twenty years have passed 
since he was simply, one of us.


R.I.P. Stephen Lawrence

poemMemorialStephen Lawrenceracism

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Thu 2nd May 2013 12:56

That's wonderful news Mark. Being able to express your feelings in poetry is what it's all about for me. To then have those feelings go directly to the people who inspired your words, is the most rewarding of all.

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Ian Whiteley

Wed 1st May 2013 18:05

really well done Mark - a fitting tribute

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Mark Mr T Thompson

Wed 1st May 2013 17:51

I've just been told that the piece has been shown to Doreen Lawrence and that the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust will feature it on their website. Some opinions are more important than Mr Newberry to me! Thanks again to all who made positive and supportive comments.

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Dave Bradley

Wed 1st May 2013 07:33

Powerful poem, Mark, and spot on in what it is saying. To the extent that people "doubt those wearing blue" a society is in trouble. A civilised society depends on trust that the police will fulfil their very special role properly. That in turn depends on accountability over failures, and credible responses to them. Recent history has demonstrated that it can sometimes take many many voices to make this happen. All the more reason to keep raising your voice. Done the right way, it strengthens those within the police force who are trying to change it in positive ways and they need all the help they can get.

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Mark Mr T Thompson

Tue 30th Apr 2013 22:56

Isobel I can absolutely see those parallels to the campaign for justice for the victims of Hillsborough.

I can see why as a mother the Duffy piece would resonate. It is extremely powerful.

For me, Stephen is a peer, less than six months my junior, his life would have been parallel to mine and my friends, all of whom grew up around the corner from him, any of whom could have been in that place at that time. That was the 'one of us'

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Tue 30th Apr 2013 21:14

Although born out of racial disharmony, in the end, for me, the Stephen Lawrence case became much more than that. It was about gross failures in our justice system and an illustration of just what a mother's love can achieve.

I see great parallels between Stephen Lawrence's mother and Ann Williams, who would not rest until the truth about Hillsborough was acknowledged. Both were strong, dignified women - human beings you could look up to.

I hope I'm not prolonging any discord by chiming in here. Clearly, there are some people who will just never be on the same wavelength as yourself so it's wasted breath trying.

I don't know if you've ever read the Carole Ann Duffy poem on the subject Mark - but it was a very moving one. I'm the mother of a soon to be 20 year old, so perhaps it resonates with me more for that.

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Mark Mr T Thompson

Tue 30th Apr 2013 20:05

Your first post is ridiculous in its ignorance,as evidenced by the factual inaccuracy, provocatively emotive language and offensive parallels which you choose to draw. The idea that the number of blows involved is how we compare crimes is so childish it as to make you look like a the bigoted troll you really are. You have consistently ignored the criminal and possibly fatal actions of the officers involved. These are what sets this murder in a different category.

Hypocrisy "The poet has the opportunity to remark on what goes unremarked - and can perform a valuable function in addressing perceived wrongs for those who OTHERWISE would be ignored, forgotten or abandoned" from the man who wrote a poem about the biggest media funeral in over a decade!

Do the victims of institutionalised racism have your sympathy and respect? What about those that have to fight to get the justice that they need? Those that know that it is because of racism they have lost a family member AND been denied justice.

Please do feel free to avoid coming down my one-way street, unless you have something intelligent to say!(all though if you did, I would assume your account had been hacked)

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 30th Apr 2013 15:54

You stay in your one-way street if you want to.
Family of all murder victims have their own desperately painful reasons for remembrance and regret and the need for justice.
THEY have my respect and sympathy.
End of story.

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Mark Mr T Thompson

Sat 27th Apr 2013 15:00

Context is subjective. How many times have you been stopped by the police for no good reason? How many of your friends have nearly died after being restrained (having never commited or even been accused a crime !) by those employed to protect and serve, then been paid off for their silence?

Who has failed to regret anything here? The significance to me of some of these events will be different to to yours or probably anybody else's. Should I regret all death's equally? Is there not room for a range of human and artistic reaction?

Why does my work have to be seen according to the context in which you see it? The answer is it does not.

You chastise me for writing about a well known case, suggesting the light must be shone on areas that would otherwise have been ignored, but choose to write about Maggie's funeral.

I am not arguing, simply discussing your ignorance and hypocrisy!

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M.C. Newberry

Sat 27th Apr 2013 14:43

I am not the "enemy" - the enemy is the virulent inability to see the bigger picture and place such dreadful happenings in context -and to regret them ALL. That way - and that way alone - lies a healthy adjusted society that feels free from resorting to insult or abuse.
To argue is vanity - to discuss: sanity!

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Ian Whiteley

Thu 25th Apr 2013 18:52

Isobel & Laura
you have both made the most insightful and appropriate comments about this issue (or indeed any issue). No one should be reflecting their agenda against a poet who is making his/her point about a specific issue to them - it's OK to respectfully disagree - but to state another cause as more (or less)valuable than the poets viewpoint is sheer hypocricy - and I know MCN would be outraged if the shoe was on the other foot.
Mark - the poem is insightful, wholly appropriate and extremely well expressed - you should see it as a compliment that it pricks the bubble of bigoted standpoints. A Good 'un

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Thu 25th Apr 2013 17:16

If I'd written a poem about my dead grand mother, whose death had been contributed to by the NHS or by the welfare state or by a faulty gas meter (all imaginary scenarios), I wouldn't expect another poet to be indignant because I hadn't written about what happened to their grand-dad.

We all have a choice over what we write and tit for tat shouldn't come into it when the circumstances are so tragic - else we've really learnt nothing at all.

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Laura Taylor

Thu 25th Apr 2013 16:01

Well said Mark, both in your comments and in your poem.

MCN - you ARE coming across as a troll these days, it has to be said. If we were all to take on board your comments, inflammatory or otherwise, then our poems would be 50 foot long and make no point whatsoever, tell no specific tale, just ramble on open-ended taking in case after case after point after point. If that is a critique, it's a shoddy one, and you'd do well to take a bit more care over future ones.

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Mark Mr T Thompson

Thu 25th Apr 2013 15:42

I am, as I have shown aware of all of those things, they are all in the media. Stephen's case is remarkable, so the coverage it gets is remarkable too.

Why would you choose to keep talking about crimes against white people by black people? I for one have not forgotten any of them. Who says the media is ignoring them? When the anniversaries of those events come up they are regularly raised. How is that significant to the story of Stephen? Were the police righting a wrong by not doing their jobs in this case? If you feel there is poem to be written, remembering these events, do so. I am sure you can find enough supporters of Powell or Mosely who will enjoy your work and you share your views.

Judging by your response you have no idea why this case is remembered above those you mention, or those of over 1400+ people that have died after police contact in the last two decades years.

That is in part why it is important to remember and record. So thank you for further justifying the existence of this poem.

There are, in my opinion no cases on a par with this one in terms of tragedy in the last two decades, because the crimes are compound. An innocent young man is critically injured because of the colour of the skin. The police fail in their duty of care to provide first aid, then obstruct and bungle the investigation, uncovering a flawed system. These are flaws that as young black man who grew up in London at this time I was already all too aware of but which the likes of your you denied at the time and probably continue to deny today.

The poet takes all sorts of opportunities, from the chronicling the major events of history, to moments of transient beauty. I remark on what I deem is important and will continue to do so, you have brought nothing to the discussion of interest so please waste no more of your time here. Express your regrets elsewhere.

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M.C. Newberry

Thu 25th Apr 2013 13:03

Please do me the courtesy of reading my first words "rightly remember" about Stephen Lawrence: but my question - including much else that has happened since, such as the knifing to death of a London schoolteacher protecting a pupil, or the horrendous pursuit and knifing to death of a youth by a young mob in Waterloo Station - goes unanswered. Where IS the outrage and the media pursuit of publicity? Is the Lawrence case in danger of being "beyond comment" for reasons which provide their own questions? If you are so resistant towards a POV seeking an analogy with attitudes to other equally appalling crimes, then I will be happy to oblige your request not to post comment on your not worth my time. Righteous resentment loses currency when it ignores so much else that goes unremarked and then takes issue with being reminded that it does. I live in the real world in which saving a life or two is within my own personal experience and will take no lectures on the value of human life from the sidelines. The poet has the opportunity to remark on what goes unremarked - and can perform a valuable function in addressing perceived wrongs for those who OTHERWISE would be ignored, forgotten or abandoned. You have the right to write your stuff about a very well-known case, and I have the right to regret the public/media failure to remember others - and wonder why?

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Wed 24th Apr 2013 17:07

I think we've had this discussion before on a poem CAD wrote. What happened to PC Blakelock was horrendous and deeply sickening - it was altogether different from the Stephen Lawrence murder though.

Every policeman knows that he may encounter danger in the line of duty, particularly in riots. You don't expect to be murdered at a bus stop though, out of the blue for no other reason than your skin colour.

Stephen was young, his whole life ahead of him, all those choices to be made...

The only thing I would say, is that coppers are no different to human beings - there are good ones and there are bad ones. I do not believe that Stoke Newington is typical example of how forces run. Let's hope at least that lessons have been learnt from this.

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Mark Mr T Thompson

Wed 24th Apr 2013 16:31

Wow, I don't know why I expect more from poets but that is the most ignorant post I have ever seen, even by Mr Newbury, our resident right-wing troll.

Stephen had not one, but two stab wounds, that both severed arteries.

The first officers on the scene not only failed to give first aid, they actually prevented anyone else from doing so, in part because they mistakenly believed stephen had been in a gang related incident.

The police then deliberately obstructed and repeatedly bungled the investigation (according to the report of Lord Macpherson, not me). The conclusions to the report finding thay the Met was an institutionally racist (a term coined by Macpherson) organisation.

It is so ironic that you choose to talk about an officer (assume you are referring to PC Keith Blakelock?) killed in the line of duty, as the death of this young man might have been avoided if only these officers had done their duty and applied pressure to his wounds. If these officers had done their duty ALL five of the suspects in this case that were identified by their own community within five days might have been successfully prosecuted. Then somewhere in the region of £50,000,000 would have been saved from the public purse. The family of Stephen and the people of South London would have had justice and a little more confidence that the colour of their skin would not mean some of them were second class citizens in the eyes of the the law. The biggest part of this story is not the murder, it is the negligent, incompetent response, from the the police, motivated by racism and probable bribery.

These are some of the reasons why this event and this lost life are so significant. Why they must be remembered.

Any case of murder, including that of PC Blakelock (in which, coincidentally various failures to follow procedure also contributed to failed prosecutions and a number of officers were, albeit unsuccessfully, prosecuted for perjury and perverting the course of justice) is tragic. But Stephen was not protected by those who were paid to do so.

Mr Newbury, please do me the favour of never commenting on my work again, or at least make sure you do a little research before spouting ill considered nonsense, where it is not welcome.

Thanks for all the other supportive comments,

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M.C. Newberry

Wed 24th Apr 2013 14:22

If we rightly remember this young man - struck down by a single knife blow from young white thugs, then why are we so slow to do likewise for a young police officer sent to keep the peace who was mercilessly struck down and then literally hacked to death by over a hundred machete and knife blows from a rioting ethnic mob in a crime-ridden London housing estate?
Where is the outrage and the media interest over the
absence of evidence or help towards solving this UNDETECTED crime?
I feel a poem coming on!!

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Julian (Admin)

Tue 23rd Apr 2013 20:17

I agree so much with Tommy on this. if it has taken so long to prosecute the racist thugs, how long is ti going ot take to prosecute both the guilty, and the inadequate police officers? In many ways this is perhaps more important than the Thatcher stuff.
Well done Mark, for your well-judged poem, and for the reminder.

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Tommy Carroll

Tue 23rd Apr 2013 01:24

Mark- I think a lot of people claim to have learnt lessons and moved on- yet thousands in power and millions of others remain ignorant of the issues or offensive in their crass attitudes. In your poem repetition has the effect of protest and warranted demands. An injury to one is an injury to all.

<Deleted User> (6315)

Tue 23rd Apr 2013 00:36

Twenty years ago...dear me it does not seem like so many years.

tony sheridan

Tue 23rd Apr 2013 00:02

Hard hitting and at the same time beautiful. Well said!! Take care, Tony.

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