The Anthony Walker Foundation recently paid a visit to CEL Solicitors to discuss Anthony’s story, the impact of hate crime, and how we can become active allies in the fight against discrimination.
What is the Anthony Walker Foundation?
Many from Merseyside will be all too familiar with the racially motivated murder of 18-year-old Anthony Walker in 2005. The Anthony Walker Foundation was established a year after the tragedy in 2006 as a means to tackle racism, hate crime and discrimination by providing educational services, victim support, and promoting equity and inclusion.
Anthony’s family did not want his tragic murder to be another statistic. Instead, they wanted his name to live on with a positive, lasting legacy. Thus, the Anthony Walker Foundation was established.
“Don’t let me son’s death be in vain” – Words spoken by Anthony’s mother, Gee Walker.
With the team gathered in the amphitheatre, Catherina Quinn, an education consultant from AWF delivered a presentation detailing Anthony’s story as a way of making visible the devastating impact of hate crime.
Catherina began her talk by outlining who Anthony was as a person – his hobbies, interests, and the traits that made him unique. Anthony Walker was a beloved son, brother, and uncle. He was a keen basketball player and an aspiring lawyer. These qualities are what inspired the objectives of the charity – to promote racial harmony through education, sports, and the arts. All that Anthony loved and aspired to is not forgotten as it has come to fruition through the work of the foundation.
Moving staff to tears, Catherina explicitly detailed Anthony’s tragic killing. She revealed the shocking fact that Anthony knew his killers, with one of them even attending the same school as him. Anthony had an encounter with the boys previously, but the evening of 29 July 2005 was a fatal one. This emphasised to the team that hate crime is not a sporadic or rare occurrence, in fact, they are more common than we think.
The Hate Crime Epidemic
Statistics from the Home Office reveal that from March 2020 – March 2021, there were 124,091 hate crimes reported in England and Wales, with racially motivated hate crimes increasing by 12 per cent from the previous year.
With a clear rise in hate crime reports each year, it is important to be vigilant and practice tackling discrimination. Catherina suggested the following:
Familiarise yourself with the definition of hate crime
- Victims of hate crimes can be targeted due to biased motivations such as race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
- Hate crimes can include physical assault, verbal abuse, and incitement to hatred.
Recognise your own unconscious bias
- We all harbour prejudices, and everybody is subject to their own unconscious bias. Many of these prejudices that are held in our subconscious can unintentionally influence how we act toward one another and how we enable certain behaviours and attitudes. Once we dismantle our biases we can work towards racial equity.
Become an ally
- Prevent hate crimes where possible. Victims of hate crimes can commonly attest to the fact that despite witnesses being present during their attack, sadly, nobody intervened. If you witness an act of discrimination, speak out and offer support if you feel safe to do so.
- You can also report an incident using the Anthony Walker Foundation’s reporting system. This data is given to the police in order to crack down on hate crimes and protect our communities.
The Lasting Impact on Staff
The team found the Anthony Walker Foundation’s visit to be incredibly moving and insightful. One member of staff commented:
“Anthony’s story is heartbreaking so it’s not surprising that some staff were moved to tears. Sadly, racism is something that a number of our staff have experienced firsthand. It’s, therefore, really important to raise awareness of this issue so that we can all support and act as real allies to those who may face discrimination. Holding these talks during work time, and having everyone take part, demonstrates the firm’s commitment to creating a fair and safe environment that supports and promotes diversity.
Addressing and tackling racism should not be the job of those affected by it. Strong leadership, that supports a diverse workforce, is key. It’s also important for everyone to play their part in ensuring everyone is treated equally, with respect, and to have the courage to speak up if we see anyone else being discriminated against.”
Well done to our diversity committee for organising this talk – and thank you to the Anthony Walker Foundation’s Catherina and Emmanuel for your visit. We look forward to collaborating and learning more when we welcome you back to the firm.