It has been 25 years since black teenager Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death at a south London bus stop in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths. His brutal murder forced the nation to look at attitudes towards race and crime – and now a new BBC documentary about the killing, and the catalogue of police failings, has left viewers both heartbroken and angry.
The first episode of the three-part documentary airing on Tuesday night focused on the events of 22nd April 1993 and on Doreen Lawrence, Stephen’s mother and his tireless champion in the struggle for justice. And it shone a light on the immediate response to the crime.
For many, it was a hard – but necessary – watch.
This is such a hard watch. It makes me so angry. Why are people so evil? So void of humanity? Makes my heart hurt #StephenLawrence
— Rachel Hawkins (@ourrachblogs) April 17, 2018
— Chizzy (@chizzyakudolu) April 17, 2018
The #StephenLawrence documentary is actually the most heart breaking thing I’ve ever watched. 25 years on and you the grief is still palpable through a screen. ????
— Chrissy?? (@chrissynasheka) April 18, 2018
There was also a lot of sympathy for Duwayne Brooks, Stephen’s friend who was with him when he was killed. Especially after an interviewee characterised him as one one who “ran away” and left his friend to die.
“He’s known as the guy who ran away and left his friend” That’s not fair #StephenLawrence
— Kayla Chantel (@MsKaylaChantel) April 17, 2018
Even now, that man’s comment on how he ‘ran away and left his mate’ was insensitive and ridiculous about a boy, not a man, who was forced to run for his life and watch his friend die #StephenLawrence
— ? (@lukewillykinson) April 17, 2018
Powerful #StephenLawrence doc. Shame it resorted to classic tropes that a) @DuwayneBrooks wanted to go clubbing that night (he didn't ever go clubbing) and b) he ran away – no he ran from killers then risked his life to go back for Stephen when he realised he wasn't running
— Simon Hattenstone (@shattenstone) April 17, 2018
— Waqas Tufail (@_WaqasTufail) April 17, 2018
The documentary aired at a key moment, as the Windrush generation faces an uncertain future – forcing a conversation about racism and immigration in today’s Britain.
50 years since Rivers of Blood speech. 25 years since #StephenLawrence murder. This week, the Windrush generation anxious about deportations. Much has changed over half a century, and yet sometimes attitudes towards race in Britain feel like they have barely moved since 1968.
— Jasvir Singh (@_JasvirSingh) April 17, 2018
The first part of the #StephenLawrence documentary on @BBCOne was utterly devastating. Sadness mixed with outrage and anger. And when the 10 o’clock News then opens with the inhumane treatment of the #WindrushGeneration you see just how far we still have to go.
— Kate Richardson-Walsh OLY (@katewalsh11) April 17, 2018
Watching the #StephenLawrence anniversary documentary & then directly after watching the news where lead story is the #Windrush scandal. What’s changed, where’s our progress?? The establishment & our society is riddled with vile racism & disrespect ? sickened ?
— Nuala (@nualajane) April 17, 2018
Ultimately people were just heartbroken for Stephen’s friends and relatives, and what they have had to endure.
#StephenLawrence it is so sad Doreen Lawrence and Duwayne Brooks haven't spoken since is truly heartbreaking. You see both sides. A mother angry and hurt. A man who without realising lost a part of himself that night. Both people can never be who they were. That's true tragedy..
— TJ Hall (@TJHall81) April 17, 2018
The effect it still has on his best friend & family to this day is unbearable to watch. #StephenLawrence
— Lily Cribbin (@cribbbb) April 17, 2018
#StephenLawrence Part I of the documentary was heartbreaking n shocking. The evil that was done to that young man will live in infamy. HOpe some justice is done to him and family with the recreation on film of those horrible events.
— Margaret McLaren (@maggiemclaren_) April 18, 2018
Part two of the documentary Stephen: The Murder That Changed a Nation will air tonight, Wednesday 18th April at 9pm on BBC1