Mrs Walker has drawn on her Christian faith to find forgiveness for the two young men who murdered her son Anthony
Gee Walker has drawn on her Christian faith to find forgiveness for the two young men who murdered her son with a mountaineering axe because he was black.
Mrs Walker, who had sat through every day of a difficult two-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court, spoke about forgiveness as the judge ruled that the attack in a Merseyside park had been racially motivated.
Away from the court, Mrs Walker, with her daughter Dominique, 20, told assembled reporters, "Do I forgive them? At the point of death Jesus said 'I forgive them because they don't know what they did'.
"I've got to forgive them. I still forgive them. My family and I still stand by what we believe: forgiveness. "It's been real hard going, but I feel justice has been done. I'm sure they will get the maximum sentence." She acknowledged that it would be difficult to move on in the aftermath of her son's death, but added: "We have no choice but to live on for Anthony. Each of us will take a piece of him and will carry on his life."
Anthony Walker was a committed Christian and youth leader at an Evangelical Alliance member church, Grace Family Church, in Liverpool. Mrs Walker recently presented the Anthony Walker Memorial Prize in memory of her son at the Alliance’s Champions of Respect awards (10 November). The awards honoured young people who demonstrate respect by how they live in their communities.
In a wide ranging interview given during the trial and only recently published, Gee and Dominique answered questions from reporters, gathered at Grace Family Church, about Anthony, his life and the impact of his violent death.
What were his hopes for the future?
Gee: Anthony was going places, I’m sure. He was serious and he knew exactly what he wanted to be. He was his own person. He knew he wanted to be a lawyer and I don’t think anything was going to stop him from doing that. He would watch a television programme and say ’If I have to leave England and go to America, I will do that, and become a lawyer’.
He wanted to be a judge, as well, because he had seen the black judges in America and he said ’I’ll be one’. He loved basketball. If you come into my house, you’ll see that most of the pictures are in frames but with no glass in them, because he would bounce the ball in the house. He knew he shouldn’t, but he would bounce that ball!
He loved coming to church. He was a Godly person, he was very serious about that. He had a passion for basketball, and seriousness about the things of God.
He had trials for Liverpool basketball and also for England, but because it was on a Sunday, there was a conflict between church and basketball. I remember one day, he was really hyped because he had the England trial, but then he realised it was on a Sunday and he didn’t want to go. He said ’I can’t because I have to go to church, they really need me there’.
He was going places in sport but he chose the Lord, which was most important.
Gee: Anthony had assumed a role as head of the household (Gee is separated from Anthony’s father, Steve.) Anthony was my prayer partner, we prayed together. He was in training to be a good man, so when it came to making decisions in the home, we made them together.
We talked about it, because he was 18 and I was preparing him to be a good husband and good father, and he would have been.
Do you hate Barton and Taylor?
Gee: I can’t hate. I brought up my children in this church to love. I teach them to love, to respect themselves, and respect others. We’re a huggy family and they go out and portray that same image. We’re a forgiving family and it extended to outside, so it wasn’t hard to forgive because we don’t just preach it, we practise it.
Dominique: Seventy times seven we must forgive, that’s what we were taught, that’s what the Bible said, that’s what we have to do. It’s an everyday thing. It is hard, it is so hard, but you get through it. It eases the bitterness and the anger if you can wake up in the morning and think ’forgive, forgive, forgive’.
Gee: It is a life sentence. What does bitterness do? It eats you up inside, it’s like a cancer. We don’t want to serve a life sentence with those people.
Has your faith been tested by Anthony’s death?
Gee: (Laughs) Has my faith been tested? Lord, yes. My name’s Gee, not Jesus! It’s been hard, so hard, but I have to follow what the Lord teaches. It is easy to say those things, but when it is you who must do them, it is hard.