The Stephen Lawrence case and another Injustice

originally by: Film Blog –
published: 5th January 2012

The news about the Lawrence verdict and sentencing took me back to the mid-1990s – the case has been hanging for such a shameful length of time – when we journalists stood around gaping at Paul Dacre’s sensational “Murderers” headline in the Daily Mail, and discussing what it all meant. (The paper challenged the five suspects to sue: did that mean sue for criminal libel? For which legal aid was available? Well, they didn’t sue.)

My next thought was to pick up the phone and call the film-maker Ken Fero, who, with Tariq Mehmood, directed one of the most sensational documentaries I think I’ve ever reviewed: the 2001 film Injustice: The Movie. This was about the extraordinary, continuing phenomenon of black and Asian people dying mysteriously in police custody without any prosecution being brought.

The film-makers suggested that 1,000 people had died in this way between 1969 and 1999, and focused on cases such as those of Joy Gardner, David Oluwale and Shiji Lapite. Despite the soul-searching that followed the Stephen Lawrence case, the situation highlighted in Injustice went all but unnoticed: a colossal elephant in the room.

The film itself had to be pulled from cinemas after legal threats from the Police Federation, but the directors have continued to put on samizdat-style screenings ever since, and Fero is now preparing to upload the film in its entirety to the Vimeo site.

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