6 Black European victims who became symbols in fight against racism

From left to right, Kerwin Duinmijer (Netherlands), Stephan Lawrence (UK), Alberto Adriano (Germany)

Racially motivated crimes against black people and people of colour in Europe is still a problem. Some of these incidents briefly make the headlines and cause a public outcry, but often these incidents are not even documented as racist violence. But in some cases victims of racist violence become symbols in the fight against racism. 

1. David Oluwale - United Kingdom  - 1969

David Oluwale (1930–1969) was a British Nigerian who drowned in the River Aire in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, in 1969. The events leading to his drowning have been described as "the physical and psychological destruction of a homeless, black man whose brutal, systematic harassment was orchestrated by the Leeds city police force (source: Wikipedia).

On 25 April 2022 a plaque was installed in memory of David Oluwale, but it was stolen that same night. A new plaque was installed  on 23 October 2022, which will be protected by anti-terrorism and security measures


2. Kerwin Duinmeijer - The Netherlands - 1983

In The Netherlands in 1983 15-year old Kerwin Duinmijer was stabbed in by a 16-year-old Dutch skinhead and died of his injury because a taxi-driver didn't want to take him to the hospital. The taxi-driver didn't want blood stains in his taxi. Kerwin, who was born in the Dutch Antillean, died on 22th August 1983. His killer was a skinhead, who's father was a Jewish holocaust survivor. His killer was convicted of the murder, but according to the judge there was not enough evidence to define and see it as an act of racism. He was involuntarily committed in an institution for minors. He was released in 1988. He committed suicide in January 2012.  Kerwin Duinmeyer is commemorated each year in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam by the foundation "Vrienden van Kerwin Duinmijer"

The video shows anti-racism demonstration in the Netherlands, the first demonstration in the film is one in 1983 for Kerwin Duinmijer 


3. Stephen Lawrence - United Kingdom - 1993

In the UK 18 year old black British teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered in a racist attack while waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April 1993 in London.  In 2010 the case was described as being "one of the highest-profile unsolved racially-motivated murders. A report concluded, "that the Metropolitan police had failed in their basic duty to investigate until they could investigate no more because the Met was blighted by institutional racism". As a result his killers were convicted 9 years later and were sentenced on 4 January 2012 to detention at Her Majesty's Pleasure, equivalent to a life sentence for an adult,with minimum terms of 15 years 2 months and 14 years 3 months respectively.  Lawrence is commemorated annually in London. Four years ago The Stephen Lawrence Centre was founded in his name.

Also see Group lists 96 'racist killings' since Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence - What happened?

4. Alberto Adriano - East Germany - 2000

In Germany Mozambican Alberto Adriano is also commemorated annually. Adriano was brutally murdered by three drunken neo-Nazis in the evening of 11th June 2000 in the Eastern German city of Dessau. His killers were convicted of the murder. The oldest killer received life imprisonment, the others received nine years imprisonment because they were juveniles at the time the crime. The Afro-German music collective Brothers Keepers made the commemoration song "Adriano (Letzte Warnung)" ("Adriano Final warning").

Commemoration of Alberto Adriano in Dessau Germany in 2012. In the video many German officials from the State Govermenment and a friend of Alberto Adriano, who delivers a speech.

5. Toyosi Shittabey - Ireland - 2010

In the Republic of Ireland the 15 year teenager Toyosi Shittabey was stabbed to death in a racially motivated attack on 2nd April  2010 in Dublin. Toyosi moved from Nigeria to the Irish Republic with his family 11 years ago. One of the attackers (40) who was due to stand trial for the murder of Toyosi Shittabey committed suicide one day before the trial. The other attacker (26), his brother, was acquitted of the murder because his brother inflicted the stab wound on Toyosi.

6. Adama Traoré - France - 2016

Adama Traoré was a 24 year old black French man who died in police custody in 2016 after being restrained and apprehended. His death triggered riots and protests against police brutality in France, with new resurgence and resonance since the murder of George Floyd in the United States that some perceived as being under similar circumstances in 2020. 



Updated Dec 22th, 2022

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