Letter: Anti-racist Eltham

Letter: Anti-racist Eltham

Sir: Your story "Lawrence Blunder: 80 Under Guard" (6 March) gave the impression that racist activity is on the increase after publication of the Lawrence report. In particular you quote Lewisham Race Equality Council as saying that "rumours were sweeping the area of further attacks by gangs from the Eltham area".

We in Greenwich (which includes Eltham) are concerned to hear that there are such rumours, especially as we have heard no evidence of such increase in racist activity.

We wonder if such rumours are proliferating because Eltham is now widely believed to be a hot-bed of racism. But 80 Eltham people (most of them white) gave information so sensitive that they now have to be given police guard. Does that not give the lie to the statement of the police in the early days of the investigation that there was a "wall of silence"?

The effect of the Lawrence report (and of the better response of the Met in the past months) will have been to discourage racists, not to encourage them. It may also discourage them to know that so many of their own supposed "kith and kin" were prepared to assist the police with inquiries.

If people do not understand that racism happens everywhere in British society then the Lawrence family's struggle, and the Macpherson report, will have been in vain.

JAMES GORDON

Greenwich Action Committee Against Racist Attacks

London SE18

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