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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 15:56 GMT
Murder 'proves racism exists'
By David Green
BBC News, Liverpool

The horrific and senseless murder of Anthony Walker triggered a shockwave throughout Merseyside.

But while the reaction among one of Britain's oldest black communities was of shock, many were not surprised.

Gee Walker
Gee Walker: "I paid a bitter price"

People of Afro-Caribbean origin have lived in Liverpool since its growth as one of the world's major port cities.

Most still live in the Toxteth area, three miles from the docks from which their ancestors first disembarked.

A few, such as the Walker family, have moved out but say they have faced increased racism living outside of their community.

Anthony's mother Gee said his death proved racism still existed.

"I paid a bitter price so I've got to say, yes it does, because I'm living proof," she said.

Dr Ray Costello
The trouble is, what black people are saying now is 'that's what happens to you when you move out'
Dr Ray Costello
"My wonderful son has died, has paid a price, so sit up and be aware it is happening.

"It is here in Liverpool, we can't deny the fact that it's not happening any more, it's a fact and it's what are we going to do about it?," she told the BBC's Real Story programme.

Dr Ray Costello, who has written a book on the history of Liverpool's black community, said: "The trouble is, what black people are saying now is 'that's what happens to you when you move out'."

"It's confirmed people's worst fears. The reason it doesn't happen very often is people stay where they're put."

'Saddens me'

Despite Liverpool's recent regeneration, which will be celebrated in 2008 when it becomes European Capital of Culture, racism is an issue which needs addressing quickly, he believes.

"You will not see many black people outside of the Toxteth area, even in the city centre," he said.

"If you're going to be a true Capital of Culture in 2008 you can't have these Native American-style reservations for black people.

"I'm a patriot of Liverpool and it saddens me to say all of this, but it's true."

There's a belief that things haven't changed since what happened to Stephen Lawrence
George White, Liverpool 8 Law Centre
While it could be argued Anthony's murder highlighted an underlying problem in race relations in Merseyside, it has not set white and black at each others' throats.

His death united all communities in outrage and grief as was illustrated by the way white and black sat side-by-side at his funeral in Liverpool's Anglican cathedral.

But Linda Freeman, who works at the Kuumba Imani Millennium community centre in Toxteth, said "a lot of work" still needed to be done in the city.

"It's only over the past 10 years where black people have started to move out of Toxteth," she said.

"It's clear that people who move out are actually moving back in. Their safety net with racism has been broken."

George White, a lawyer at the Liverpool 8 Law Centre which offers legal help to people in the Toxteth area, praised Merseyside Police's swift reaction in catching Anthony's killers.

But he added: "The community around here would not go to Huyton because of what's happened there. It's always in the back of their mind.

"There's a belief that things haven't changed since what happened to Stephen Lawrence."


Anthony Walker - The Real Story - BBC ONE on Friday 2 December at 1930 GMT.



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