Wednesday, August 03, 2005

from The Daily Mirror (U.K.) it was also reported that hate crimes against minorities and muslims in the UK have risen very sharply

3 August 2005
By Jan Disley and Brendon Williams

THE mother of murdered Anthony Walker begged yesterday: "God, why didn't you let me hold my son before he died? That hurts so much."

Teacher Gee Walker, 49, spoke for the first time of her heartbreak as it emerged A-level student Anthony was attacked by thugs who branded him a "n*****" only weeks before he was axed to death by racists.

Mum of six Gee joined a 1,000-strong crowd at a vigil for basketball star Anthony, 18, at St George's Hall in the centre of his home city of Liverpool.

Apologising for wearing sunglasses which hid eyes swollen from tears, she said: "I'm sorry for the people who did this - but they don't deserve to walk the streets.

"I have to tell you about Anthony, he was everybody's son. I am sure he's looking down at you all, bouncing his basketball.

"Thanks for all the basketballs you've sent. I've put in as many as his coffin will hold. I've put his teddy bears with him as well. As God lives, I know my son is in heaven. He was a godly child."

Speaking about the moment she heard Anthony had been attacked, she said: "I didn't want to ask why. The only thing I said was 'Why, God, didn't you let me hold my son before he died'?"

Anthony's sister Dominique, 20, fought tears as she begged for help in catching her brother's killers.

She said: "If anybody knows anything, can they speak up? Anthony was flesh and blood, my little brother - he was only 18."

Then she, too, paid tribute to the tide of sympathy that has engulfed the family since her brother was butchered in Huyton, Liverpool, on Friday.

She said: "I just want to thank everyone in Liverpool and nationwide for all your support and prayers. You've helped us. You've touched us a lot."

Anthony's family sat on the steps of St George's Hall as speakers from anti-racism campaign groups addressed the crowd.

Anthony's uncle Leroy Shepherd declared: "You can't protect these people. You shouldn't protect these people. Find them and bring them to justice."

Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, visited the scene where Anthony was killed.

Standing next to hundreds of floral tributes lining the wall outside McGoldrick Park in St Agnes Road, she said: "Here we are again. Another senseless killing. How many more young people have to die?

"Why should another family have to suffer as we did? I only hope this time justice will be done. Stephen's killers are still free."

Anthony's aunt Monica Binns joined mourners at the shrine. Close to tears, she told them: "We never expected anybody to pay attention to us. To see you is a wonderful thing. Thank you."

Earlier, she picked up a book of the life of civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King left by a well wisher, saying: "He'd be crying in his grave if he knew what had happened here. He'd be asking why."

Anthony was walking his 17-year-old white girlfriend to a bus stop with cousin Marcus Binns,17, when they were taunted by louts from a pub opposite.

The girl, thought to be called Louise, and Marcus managed to escape, but Anthony was attacked. He was found dead with an axe embedded in his head.

Police still want to question the "distraught" girlfriend. The girl is so traumatised officers are still trying to find the right time to question her fully so they can piece together the tragic events.

Detectives are sifting through hours of CCTV footage in the hunt for the killers.

They are also thought to be studying footage from airports and ports.

Merseyside Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Lawson said: "We're doing our utmost to bring the offenders to justice. I urge the public to give us any information they have." As Interpol joined the hunt for Barton and Taylor the men's mothers were comforted by family members.

Sisters Rita Barton and Teresa Taylor are said to be horrified their sons are wanted for questioning.

Rita only came back from a week's holiday in Benidorm at the weekend.

Friends said neither Barton or Taylor had ever been involved in racial violence.

Barton has lived on the St Johns Estate at Huyton all his life.

He stayed with his mother and twin brother Andrew in a three-bedroom semi. Rita separated from her husband Joey about 10 years ago. Andrew has since moved in with his Man City footballer brother Joey. He is on a college course involving sport.

Devout Christian Anthony worshipped at the Grace Family Church, in Aigburth, for most of his life.

Yesterday mourners gathered to sign a book of condolence.

Pastor Diana Stacey, who leads the church, said: "This tragedy has touched the hearts of the people in the community, the city and across the whole country."

Anthony's sister Dominique has spoken of her forgiveness for her brother's attackers. Pastor Stacey said: "The response of the Walker family has shown their love for God and the tremendous dignity they have as people."

Steve Rudd, 18, remembered Anthony daubing himself in paint to take part in a paint-ball party for their mate Paul McCaffery just a week before he died.

He said: "I never knew a more genuine lad. He was good at so many things. He could sing, he was a great actor and a talented sportsman. He also got on with everyone he met.

"Anthony was the kind of lad who would walk away from a situation. He could stand up for himself - but he never attracted trouble."