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The Murder of Stephen Lawrence

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The Murder of Stephen Lawrence
updated 1.31.2002

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Murder of Stephen Lawrence was a true masterpiece! The documentary-style film, script and acting were powerful, poetic, and emotionally riveting. I was amazed by how I felt the pain and grief with the characters in the film. The film also made me consciously aware that institutional racism doesn't only exist in America. Thank you, PBS, for showing a beautiful and poignant film.

Glisa McDonald
Hackensack, NJ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I recently watched The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, and I have to say that this was a very powerful production. I was intensely moved that I thought it was the real thing. Since the film takes place in the early 90's, I realize that America itself was having racial problems as well. I have never been to London, but I always thought of it as cosmopolitan and free-wheeling. I know that racism exits everywhere, but was deeply disturbed with the overtly racist situations that happened to this family during this time. I then became more curious in knowing how long has this been going on in Great Britain and the reason for this. I am truly sorry that the Lawrence family had to endure the pain and stress of this situation for years. No one should have to experience something so cruel. I do believe good will prevail over evil, and that justice will finally be served for Stephen Lawrence and his family.

K. Wiggs
Richmond, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I was touched by the airing of the docudrama The Murder of Stephen Lawrence. It hurts and angers me that his killers remain free and that institutional racism is to blame. As an American and woman of color, I am fully aware of racism, racial conflicts, and inequality in the United States; however, this film brings to our awareness the fact that racism is a universal problem, not only in the United States, but in other countries as well. A boy should not have to lose his life while waiting for a bus, regardless of skin color or religion, and his parents should not have to suffer knowing that his killers remain free.

I am appalled by the justice system in Britain and by the way ethnic minorities are treated. If any good should come out of this senseless murder, it is to bring awareness about race relations and institutional racism in the U.K. Stephen Lawrence should not die in vain; he was an angel sent to this earth to bring out the good in humanity in light of all the badness.

Connie Tche
San Francisco, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am deeply disturbed -- especially being a white female -- to see that the suspects in The Murder of Stephen Lawrence were so rude and unemotional. It is an outrage to know that the Lawrence family has had to adjust to a new life, knowing that their son's killers are still afoot in the city and can cause more harm and destruction to those in their path -- their daughter, for example. Nobody deserves that type of fear in his or her life.

I think it is fair to say that black people are just like white people and I am white so I know. I hate racism, I hate sexism, and I hate white people that keep the superior image persistent, because it is not such a beautiful picture when you look at it from the perspective of the Lawrence family. God bless the mother and sister as well as all the rest, but please, people, love all who cross your path because that is how you get love back.

Stephen, I respect you and I will fight for the struggle you began with your demise. I am a truly outraged middle-aged American and I can do something about it! AMEN.

Erika Miller
Cupertino, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Thank you so very much for this wonderful, wonderful Masterpiece Theatre program. Your beautifully artistic production of The Murder of Stephen Lawrence was captivating, horrifying, and incredibly sad. I was sobbing at the end and I know I will think about it for a long time.

Addiann Hinds
Lansing, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I would like to thank PBS for airing the story of Stephen Lawrence. I think the events of his story were very well presented and The Murder of Stephen Lawrence featured a wonderful cast. As an African-American I am very sympathetic to the Lawrence family, and I commend them for never giving up. They have done Stephen proud in the work they have done to track down his killers and to bring the issue of racism to the forefront in England.

England, as well as America, has a way to go in the way that they handle the murders of people of African descent and minorities. Like it or not, we are citizens of these two great nations and our lives are as valuable as our white countrymen's are. It is with this thought I feel that the murders of our children and loved ones should be equally investigated, and not brushed under a rug and forgotten. I would like to wish the Lawrence family God's blessings, and hope that they keep the faith -- because what's done in the dark always comes out in the light.

Dawn Barfield
Joliet, IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I happened to be flipping through the channels the night of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, and I came across your film, The Murder of Steven Lawrence. I spent the next one and a half-hours literally glued to my seat with wide eyes, sometimes full of tears.

I had now idea until I came to this Web site that this film was a recreation of events. I was sure it was a documentary. Even still, I will always think of it as a documentary, not a recreation. It was very real to me, more so than any other film I have ever seen.

Thank you for creating films such as this...

Leslie Bernad
Delray Beach, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
My feeling is that Masterpiece Theatre did a superb job on the production of The Murder of Stephen Lawrence. I would like to see Masterpiece Theatre produce other political pieces which reflect the "real world." I thought racism was primarily a problem in the US. This production showed that this is not true. I applaud this form of consciousness-raising, even though I profoundly regret the tragedy that the Lawrence family has suffered. I was personally and deeply appalled at the blatant lack of justice in this case and send my deepest regards and sympathy to the Lawrence family. I don't think any amount of money can compensate for this tragic loss and the police department's incompetence.

Laura Estetter
Arcata, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I was channel surfing getting ready to go to bed on Monday, January 21, and caught The Murder of Stephen Lawrence at the scene when Stephen was on the operating table. I couldn't move after that! The story was great! It cut into my heart! I logged on to see when it would be replaying but did not see it on the schedule. I've been telling people about it all day. Please show it again!

Joe Webb
Libertyville, IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have watched Masterpiece Theatre for decades and weekly look forward to it! It is one of the few intelligent shows on TV. However, last night's The Murder of Stephen Lawrence was a huge disappointment. TV is already cluttered with too many reality dramas shot with the pretentious, supposedly gritty, hand-held camera style. Puhleeze, not Masterpiece Theatre too! The relentless close-ups created a feeling of claustrophobia. The jerky scene cuts gave it the feel of a film school freshman project. I turned to another channel. I want Russell Baker off the street and back in the library!

Em Kennedy
San Diego, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I watched the telecast last evening and was very moved by the events that unfolded. As a "Black Brit" (I was born in the UK and my parents are from Jamaica) living in NY, I know first-hand the way Blacks are treated in the UK. The British hide their racism under the mask of "British Politeness." However, there is a lot of anger and resentment for the people of color who have migrated to the British "homeland."

My heart goes out to the Lawrence family and words cannot express the grief I felt after watching the show. It brought back memories of being called "Blackie" as a child in Manchester, and having teachers say it was just "children playing." Hopefully, the Lawrence case has opened the eyes of the British establishment and made them realize that all British citizens regardless of color should be treated equally under the eyes of the law. I also hope that other families in situations Like the Lawrence's fight for their rights and take on the establishment. I know nothing can replace a lost son, but I hope they can take comfort in the fact that the police department, even though they will not admit it, knows they did the family a great injustice.

Ita Lamont
Edison, NJ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Murder of Stephen Lawrence presented such a sad case. I was born in England, and am sad to see that it is as racist as the United States. That the murderers of this promising young man are walking around free is an injustice not only to Black Britons, but also to all Britons who are fair-minded and progressive. If the situation had been reversed, with black men killing a white man, surely the Police would have acted differently.

Sad indeed!

Lena James
Glen Burnie, MD

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am of mixed race and think it is very sad how this world is divided. I have experienced racism from several ethnic origins. I, myself, have been racist as a self-defense mechanism to protect myself from the horrible prejudices of man. I am praying to God every day that he makes me a better person, and I am praying for those racist people that are children of God to look beyond skin color and to treat a person the way you would want to be treated. We are all children of God and we should act according to his word whether it be racism, drugs, adultery or any sins of this world. Racism is a taught behavior and my child and my neighbors' children of different races are good examples. They can live together and love one another and realize they are different. To stop racism is to teach our young generations it is okay to be different and judge people by the way they present themselves to you, not by the color of their skin.

Terri Valentine
Houston, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I was really touched by this true docudrama of Stephen Lawrence, mainly because I had a nephew who was killed two years ago right outside our home at night. The Murder of Stephen Lawrence was very good. My sympathies to the Lawrence family.

Thembelenkosini Mahlangu
Atlanta, GA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have never watched Masterpiece Theatre before, but can now be considered a new and loyal fan. I was absolutely riveted to The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, which I stumbled upon while channel surfing last night. My heart goes out to the Lawrence family and I will be praying for justice and peace for them.

Ella Harris
Red Wing, MN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Thank you for airing this important, well-crafted movie, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence. I think it's great that Masterpiece Theatre has gone for something quite different. I hope that you will continue to air edgy, controversial movies like this one. Young audiences can learn a great deal from Stephen's story, and I hope schools and colleges will show it to their aspiring filmmakers as an example of great television.

David Ng
New York, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Wow! The Murder of Stephen Lawrence was a great movie. Engaging and moving, with absolutely gripping content and acting. Hats off to those involved with its production. A triple-A film with a blue chip message!

Patrick O'Connor
Lima, OH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Murder of Stephen Lawrence was so real and "earthy" that it was hard not to think of it as on-site documentary. As a result, it moved me in a way few productions on television do. I felt sad and angry and amazed at what Mrs. Lawrence was able to do. Some kind of justice was obtained, if not a complete punishment of the guilty ones. Thank you for putting this case before us. I am sure there are parallels in our own country.

Bernice Feldman
Briarcliff, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I cried for many reasons yesterday while watching The Murder of Stephen Lawrence -- not only was he murdered and his case messed up by the police, but then in 1999, in Wellington, England, my friend Errol McGowan was lynched, and six months later, so was his nephew Jason. We gave the police the names of some of the members of the racist gang, but the police also did a terrible job of investigating the murder. It's just another case of "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Thanks for a job well done on the Lawrence story.

New York, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Until last night's presentation of the pseudo-documentary, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, I had never heard of this case. I was riveted, and for about half of the program actually believed that what I was watching was real.

I am appalled at the injustice surrounding this case. I am deeply saddened that the justice system in London and Great Britain cannot simply 'fess up to its faults and try to reconcile this case. The five suspects deserve nothing short of swift justice and life in prison for their actions. Their disrespect for human life chilled me to the bone. Racism cannot be tolerated by our communities and ignored or encouraged by the institutions that are in place to protect us.

Stephen Lawrence's case touches me deeply and I applaud PBS for running this special. I truly hope that somehow Stephen can be laid to rest and his murderers brought to justice. Thank you.

Gina Focareta
Pittsburgh, PA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Murder of Stephen Lawrence was a touching and sad story. My mother and I watched it together. She got very emotional, and so did I. I would like to send the Lawrence family our condolences. Stephen will forever be in our hearts and memories. I hope that you and your family are better.

Dominique Carter & the Flenard-Carter Family
Chicago, IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Murder of Stephen Lawrence gave excellent insight into the dual justice system based upon race that is practiced throughout the world. I believe that Stephen Lawrence's mother in the program told the public exactly what a black life is worth -- nothing. The program also demonstrated the patronizing manner in which black British people are treated. The deaths of black youth are very rarely investigated. A very poignant case would be the 13 kids that were burnt to death in London in the early 1980s. The police have yet to even find a suspect. It is terrible to know that whilst the British openly campaigned against apartheid, the authorities practiced their own type of racially biased system on minorities. This was a thoughtful program, but it did not do justice to the full scope of racism that was experienced by this family. I hope to see more programs of this nature in which the truth about the system we have all come to accept is exposed.

Winifred Williams
Silver Spring, MD

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I believe that The Murder of Stephen Lawrence really touched my heart. Living in a small town, I have seen a lot of racial things, myself. Although I am a white Caucasian woman, I have many friends and neighbors of the African-American descent. I cannot fathom the pain and suffering that the Lawrence's have had to deal with. I can only hope that one day they will get the peace that they so well deserve. My condolences are with them, and my prayers, as well. As for the criminals at large, I only hope that they will not have those guilty smiles on their faces the day the Lord above asks them about their sins on their judgement day. May God bless the Lawrence family.

Danielle Bailey
Ironton, OH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just finished watching The Murder of Stephen Lawrence. Well done! The director, actors -- particularly Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and the production were all superb. I also must say that it was sheer joy to see black people in Britain portrayed on television. Based on everything else that is shown from there, no one would believe that Britain has quite a diverse multi-ethnic population. I love the corset dramas as much as anyone else, but please do not let this be the last time you screen a contemporary or period program from Britain that features black actors in significant roles.


Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
It is incredible that racism still exists in our countries. How could the men not feel any guilt for their acts? And their parents didn't say or make any comments to the police? I feel anger and sadness over The Murder of Stephen Lawrence -- especially because it is a true one. Here we are, in a new century, with the same old bias and hate because of skin color.

Barbara Walsh,
Missoula, MT

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I think Masterpiece Theatre did an excellent job of portraying the Stephen Lawrence case in The Murder of Stephen Lawrence. The acting was superb and so realistic that, at first, it was hard to discern whether or not it was an actual documentary or just acting. I felt the Lawrence family's pain as if it were my own. I actually cried during several parts of the show. It has been a long time since a TV show has evoked so much emotion within me. I felt everything from anguish to sadness to grief to sheer ANGER. I think it is appalling that the five perpetrators are still free today.

Shame on the British Police and shame on every single individual who had anything to do with delaying JUSTICE. This family deserves to lay this case to rest and that will never be accomplished as long as those animals are free (for that is all they are, SCUM, COWARDS and ANIMALS.) Stephen Lawrence's blood ran RED, the same colour as his murderers'. It matters not the colour of his skin. My sincere condolences to the Lawrence family; my heart bleeds for them. As much as Masterpiece Theatre deserves kudos for putting on a great show, the Lawrence family deserves JUSTICE even more.

(And by the way, not that it should matter, but I am white.)

Anne Francis
Toronto, ON

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
After viewing The Murder of Stephen Lawrence and reading about what has happened since 1998, I was curious as to whether or not there was any way I could send a letter of support to his mother. For years, my brothers have been harassed by a number of Neo-Nazis and local police, but thank goodness they were never hurt. Much like Stephen, they have no gang or criminal involvement but the hate mongers still seek them out and terrorize our communities in a very cowardly way. I wish that PBS wasn't the only broadcast company in the US that has some of the most incredible programs and documentaries.

Thank you so much.

Cecile Bellamy
Minneapolis, MN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
On the night of my children's Christmas play in 1981, I had to tell them that their father had been stabbed to death by three men while he waited for a bus. The LA police watched the crime and did not intervene until my husband was dead. Then they caught the murderers. After a year of court dates, two of the men found guilty walked free after hearing their sentence. The other men served an additional year. As the police witnessed the crime, but did not intervene, investigatory competence was not the question. Why they did nothing to stop it is the mystery. Eight officers were within one block of the scene, all radio equipped. The family's attempts to understand the sequence of events and obtain public record documents were obstructed at every turn. My husband was a Pima Indian from Salt River, Arizona, where our daughter and grandchildren still live. Our son lives in nearby Tempe. Their father was killed by three black men. The crime was witnessed by two white police officers who had the street corner staked out for violent crime. I was very deeply touched by the ordeal of the Lawrence family, so similar to our own. The pain never goes away.

Mary Gibbons
Mesa, AZ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Murder of Stephen Lawrence was the most fascinating and yet horrifying program I have ever watched. Watching it was so incredible, so realistic. Knowing that it was a dramatization/re-enactment was surreal. The actors made it so real; the presentation and production were so totally awesome I felt as if I was almost there. A must-see for those who believe we all need a "new" look at the laws that rule our "civilized and democratic" world.
A debate society's favorite topic!

Dave J.
Houston, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
My comments on The Murder of Stephen Lawrence are not about the subject matter (and I don't mean to trivialize the incident, which seems to speak quite effectively for itself). Instead, I want to comment on the presentation itself. While I cannot -- by any means -- claim to be a sophisticated consumer of cinema/drama, I wonder why awards are given out, i.e. Golden Globes, Oscars, Emmys, etc., for the cinematic products where "actors" are obviously "acting" when there are powerful pieces such as this which made me wonder if I was watching a documentary or a recreated drama. I had trouble convincing myself that these were actors instead of the people themselves.

Eru Napia
Salt Lake City, UT

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Murder of Stephen Lawrence is an incredibly powerful and moving story, and I am really glad that it was broadcast on PBS. The courage and dignity of the family and the indictment of the British justice system moved me to tears. I'm very glad that PBS exists -- The Murder of Stephen Lawrence is a rare gem on American TV.

Abina Manning
Chicago, IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The situation depicted in The Murder of Stephen Lawrence accurately depicts the nonchalant, indifferent, and insulting manner of most law enforcement officials when blacks are the victims of crime. It is sad to think that if the officials in this country had handled the Muslim terrorists the same way they handle their own African-American citizens, the tragic events of Sept 11, 2001 would never have happened. The highway patrolman who let the speeder go, the INS officials who gave the terrorists an extended eight-month visa in the country -- in spite of clear violations of the law -- and others who overlooked "signs" are guilty of a perverse kind of racism. Had these offenses been committed by persons of "color," at the very least they would have been imprisoned. But fair skinned persons are never guilty, are they?

Jeanne Grier
Cleveland, OH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Before The Murder of Stephen Lawrence began, Russell Baker said that the case of Stephen Lawrence is similar to the way it was in the United States. He uses the word "was," as in the past, insinuating that it does not take place in the U.S. anymore. This intelligent person, clearly, is trying to deceive the audience. The cover up by the police and politicians in England and the corruption of the authorities is very similar to what happens here in the U.S. The list of people that have died at the hands of racists and the police is long; Amadou Diallo and Yousef Hawkins a few years back are just two examples. The deception continues, even today, in England and in the U.S.

Francisco Gutierrez
Jamaica, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Bravo to Masterpiece Theatre for presenting The Murder of Stephen Lawrence. It was one of the most gripping and moving dramatizations I've ever seen. It is clear whose side the director and producer are on, but I would like to hear a balanced opinion of the case. Did we hear all there is to know about Stephen Lawrence? I lean towards the viewpoint of the film, but would welcome insight from anyone who has more information.

Matthew Tivy
New York, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I can't even begin to understand how the suspected killers of Stephen Lawrence can still be free today. It is extremely irresponsible that conscious, free-thinking people can allow these young men to walk freely. I read the update on this Web site about the Stephen Lawrence case and still can't believe that only arrests for questioning have been made. I hope those who have watched this program can learn from it and voice their opinions to the British legal system in order to put the murderers of Stephen Lawrence in prison.

John LaFosse
O.O.B., ME

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Murder of Stephen Lawrence is currently on, and I thought that it might be an actual real-life footage, not acted, until I came to the PBS Web site and saw that it was a docudrama.

Brian OcO
Mosinee, WI

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