Thousands Attend UK Hate-Crimes Vigils

TrafalgarTwo thousand people attended the third annual hate-crime vigil in London’s Trafalgar Square, last weekend.The event was organised by 17-24-30 in partnership with the Harvey Milk Foundation and came just days after Stuart Walker was found dead in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Sister vigils also took place around the country, with Brighton, Kettering, Leicester, Norfolk, Norwich, Plymouth, Sussex, Suffolk, and Stoke all hosting ceremonies.

Even the people in the ‘Occupy the Stock Exchange’ protest held a vigil outside St Pauls to show their support.

Mark Healey, organiser of the event said: “We had a good turnout again this year, although I did expect more people following three high profile attacks in central London. The attack on Philip Salon that left him hospitalised for several weeks, the attack on the barman from Half-way 2 Heaven, and the brutal gang attack on the gay couple holding hands on Charing Cross Road.”

“However it’s not just about the numbers is it? It is about making as many people aware that there is a problem and that we all need to be vigilant, to look out for each other and keep our communities safe. At the same time we need to keep the pressure on local authorities to ensure that they are doing everything within their powers to prevent these attacks – especially in the current economic climate.”

The Trafalgar Square Vigil was opened by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who read a short poem and blessed the event, it also included performances by the Gay Symphonic Winds Orchestra and a choir consisting of members of the London Gay Men’s Chorus, Pink Singers and Diversity.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, Beverley Smith from the Disability Hate Crime Network and Rose Simpkins CEO Stop Hate UK all gave key-note speeches.

Sue Sanders, Co-chair of School’s Out, also talked about translating caring into action.

At 8pm there was 2-minute silence to remember those who had been victims of hate crime.

Elly Barnes, who topped this year’s Pink List in The Independent, said: “All schools have a duty to protect young people – so for goodness sake head-teachers, you have no excuses, you have all the legal back-up you need to bring equalities to the forefront of your agenda, in fact you don’t need that as it is just the right thing to do! – do it tomorrow, you will be saving lives.”  (pinkpaper)

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