Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 6th 2014 Contents Learco Chindamo, aged 15, was half Italian,
In T&T, you have a different set of race-
related crime anxieties, categories and
stereotypes: broadly speaking, a gang-relat-
ed homicide has been carried out by a
young black man and the poisoning or
chopping to death of a wife has been com-
mitted by an Indian.
But there isn t a stigma attached to black
or Asian crime as in Britain or America,
because the majority ethnicity in T&T is
black or Asian. If murders and poisonings
were regularly carried out by white Trinis,
you might understand the stigma.
Before Cornick was identified, my friend
said he thought he d be white. When Cor-
nick s picture was published and he was a
normal-looking, spotty white kid, I asked
why he d predicted that. He said, "Crazy
knife attack, that s a white thing to do."
Gallows humour from a white friend with
a dark sense of humour.
Personally, I thought having a beef with
one s teacher was more of a black thing
but, as it turns out, Cornick s hatred of his
teacher was entirely irrational and psycho-
I know it s wrong, but I admit I breathed
a sigh of relief when I saw he was white:
a sigh of relief for the black and Asian com-
munity in Leeds and for black British youth
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, November 6, 2014
Sixteen-year-old Will Cornick has been
found guilty of stabbing to death his
teacher, Ann Maguire, 61, in Leeds in April.
As he was 15 at the time of the killing, the normal
rules of media reporting restricted his identity from
being published. Before the case began, an order
was obtained under the Children and Young Persons
Act which would have prevented his identity being
known until his 18th birthday.
After the verdict (Cornick pleaded guilty) news-
paper groups appealed to the judge to lift the order
and allow the boy s identity to be revealed on the
basis of public interest, freedom of expression for
the press and as a deterrent.
In the case of Sean Luke, the six-year-old boy
murdered in Orange Valley, the accused were under
16 and had their names protected from publication
in T&T. Once the trial reached court, Akeel Mitchell
and Richard Chatoo were old enough to be named.
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both ten
when they murdered two-year-old Jamie Bulger in
Liverpool in 1993, had their identities disclosed at
the end of the trial.
When crimes of grave magnitude happen, crimes
which are beyond normal comprehension, it is per-
haps human instinct to want to know who the per-
petrator is, what their background is and what they
When the Cornick verdict was published on Mon-
day and before the judge had lifted the media ban,
the thought occurred to me, what if he s black or
Sometimes when I read about serious crimes that
happen in Britain I find myself wondering if they ve
been committed by black or Asian people and hoping
they haven t. It s quite an insensitive reaction and
makes no difference to the victim, but it does, in
my opinion, make a difference to a society that is
86 per cent white and in which racial harmony is
often balanced on a knife-edge.
I said to a friend that I d like to know his ethnicity.
My friend asked why that was relevant and I strug-
gled to think how to phrase it, so I said, "For peace
What I wanted to say was, "Because it would be
terrible if he were black or Asian."
It wouldn t make it any more or less horrifying,
obviously, but in modern Britain, especially in a
place like Leeds with a history of racism, had the
killer been a 15-year-old black boy, the consequences
for race relations could have been grim.
In Britain in recent years, tensions between ethnic
communities have been exacerbated by trigger points
like the 2011 riots (widely seen as race riots carried
out by young black and mixed-race youths), the
2012 Rochdale sex-trafficking case (in which a gang
of British Pakistani men were charged with grooming
and sexually abusing underage girls) and the 2013
Lee Rigby murder (a soldier hacked to death by
British African Islamists.)
Another high-profile crime by an ethnic minority
would have several effects besides the devastating
impact on the victim and her family: black British
people would feel ashamed, black schoolchildren
(already assumed to be disruptive under-achievers)
would feel under even greater scrutiny and suspicion,
white people with racist tendencies would find jus-
tification for their views, far-right extremist groups
like the English Defence League would use it as a
weapon of separation and blame and the kind of
police who already target black people would feel
The last time a teacher was killed by a pupil in
a high-level case in Britain, in 1995, the attacker,
A sigh of relief When crimes of grave magnitude
happen, crimes which are beyond
normal comprehension, it is perhaps
human instinct to want to know
who the perpetrator is, what their
background is and what they look
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