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In the House of Commons, David Cameron the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom just delivered a profound and heartfelt apology to the families and victims of the Hillsborough Disaster, and the City of Liverpool.

And not before time!

There are a million links ... I included one to the Guardian. Google "Hillsborough".

In a deeply moving tribute, Cameron apologised on behalf of the government and the nation to the families of the victims of a policing disaster.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, the prime minister said the findings in the report were "deeply distressing". He said: "With the weight of the new evidence in the report it's right for me today as prime minister to make a proper apology to the families of the 96 … On behalf of the government, and indeed of our country, I am profoundly sorry that this double injustice has been left uncorrected for so long."
Twenty three years ago, fifty thousand football supporters attended a football match in the city of Sheffield. Ninety six died where they stood.

They died because of an inept South Yorkshire Police Department. They died because of an elderly and unsafe stadium.

They died, and that was bad enough .... What happened next was beyond appalling.

In the immediate aftermath the South Yorkshire Police conspired to cover up their ineptitude. That they did so was understandable. They had failed and ninety six people, some teens, had died from crush injuries. It must be extremely difficult to accept responsibility for that as an organisation, and as individuals.

What marked this as truely reprehensible was that they tried to cover up by blaming and impuning the dead.

The Police alleged drunkeness and lawlessness. They accused the fans of deliberately arriving late and ticketless, and of forcing their way in. In some cases they ran national database checks on the dead supporters to try to unearth criminal records .... In short, they lied, they conspired and they were utterly wrong.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugLet us move to look at The Sun newspaper. The Sun is and was the flagship, mass circulation daily newspaper owned by News International. Editor at the time was Kelvin MacKenzie. The Sun, under a "King is Dead" typeface rushed to blame the supporters. They too accused them of being drunk, of robbing the dead and even, and this is breathtaking, of urinating on Police Officers.

AT every stage The Sun failed in it's duty to report the truth. Not for nothing did the phrase arise in the UK:

"There are Lies, Damned Lies, and Sun Exclusives"!

This chapter is not yet over. There will now, in all likelihood be new inquests into those ninety six deaths, and this time the inquest will have access to the truth. Truth the families have known these last twenty three years. Truth the Police have known too.

It will not bring them back, but it might bring peace for the families of the victims, and the many thousands of survivors from that terrible day.

On a personal note ... I sat down that day to watch a game of football on TV. What followed was truely horrific, with live BBC coverage of the tragedy as it unfolded. Even at the time it was clear that the authorities had no idea how to respond, Neither the Police nor the Ambulance Service knew what to do, and it was supporters, from both teams who were rescuing those in danger.

They even resorted to breaking up advertising signs to use as makeshift stretchers. They gave mouth to mouth, and cardiac massage to their fallen friends ... and they wept.

Today .... Let the healing begin.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Now I get the source of something (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, millwood, Woody, essjay, ericlewis0

    For the last 15 years or so, every time the authorities want to stir up public antagonism to any protest group or demonstration, they will announce "protesters are said to be planning to throw balloons/bottles filled with urine at the police".  As someone who has been a frequent and active participant in planning even some of the more militant demonstrations, I have never ever heard anyone ever suggest such a thing, even in private conversations, except in the past couple of years as an inside joke about the demonizing propaganda against us.  But I never knew where this little piece of authoritarian propaganda originated.  Now I think I do.

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 08:41:36 AM PDT

  •  You'll Never Walk Alone (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, semiot, ericlewis0
    When you walk through a storm
    Keep your chin up high
    And don't be afraid of the dark.
    At the end of the storm
    Is a golden sky
    And the sweet silver song of a lark.

    Walk on through the wind,
    Walk on through the rain,
    Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown.
    Walk on, walk on
    With hope in your heart
    And you'll never walk alone,
    You'll never walk alone.

    With hope in your heart
    And you'll never walk alone,
    You'll never walk alone.

    A Rogers and Hammerstein show tune standard from Carousel, 1945.
    In the U.K., the song's most successful recording was released in 1963 by the Liverpudlian Merseybeat group Gerry and the Pacemakers....
    It became the Liverpool Football Club anthem, sung by the crowd before every game.

    After the tragedy occurred, the tune took on new poignancy.

    The words "You'll Never Walk Alone" features in the club crest and on the Shankly Gate entrance to Anfield, the home stadium.

    from Wikipedia, of course

  •  Still looking to scapegoat? (0+ / 0-)

    The Police blamed the victims, saying they were drunk, and other fans, saying they pissed on the cops. Shameful blame-passing.

    But reading the report on the investigation on Wiki, I'm not so ready to blame the police for all that went wrong. Two policemen on horses could have diverted the crowds from overcrowded entranceways but were not stationed there. Stewards could have directed ticket holders to less crowded areas, but they were absent. Yada yada.

    Sorry, a facility for holding crowds -- any crowds, but especially beverage-using, excitable sports crowds -- should be designed to avoid disasters. The design should make it easy for people safely to get where they want to go, and impossible for them to mash up in enormous numbers and crush hundreds of people in front of them. (Once the disaster happened, the police fumbled the rescue completely.)

    So I'm inclined to blame the club owners for a very badly functioning stadium, and the sports and public safety authorities that allowed them to operate it, for the disaster in the first place. But I understand why nobody's going to go there.

    •  This tragedy was certainly the fault of the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Woody, ericlewis0

      stadium owners in terms of the treatment of working class people that were crammed into pens when they went to watch a football match. But there is more to blame, ambulances were not allowed in to save people, the coroner stopped doing investigations and treated the bodies coming in as though they died from the same thing; the police covered up their failure, 41 people could have saved if appropriate action had been taken there and then.

      The tories and the right-wing press then used this to impugn working class people; drunkenness and hooliganism became associated with this incident which was not what was happening; those trying to help that were there were accused of trying to steal from the dead and dying and of pissing on the police. Blood tests were taken from children trying to uphold the lies of the police. This was contempt of working class people and was used to vilify them for decades; all based on a political agenda of the bloody Tories. So it is a bit more than just the fault of the owners of the club and the stadium security. It took the combined fight of victims and survivors on their own dime to get this victory; many of those that lied are probably no longer alive, many of those responsible for security are no longer alive. I doubt the coroner is still up and moving. The Sun and David Cameron's apologies are hollow as they are still treating the working class with contempt and derision.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 05:58:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have watched maybe 100 football (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Woody, ericlewis0, NY brit expat

        matches in that stadium.

        While it is correct that it didn't have a safety certificate from Sheffield City Council, the reasons for that are unclear.

        No one has really levelled much blame at Sheffield Wednesday Football Club over this matter. The City were witholding a certificate, but they had not shut the ground, which they absolutely would have done were there any major concerns for public safety.

        What happened when that gate opened was beyond anything that could have been prevented by club stewards ... they would have been trampled in the rush.

        Right opposite the concertina gate (opened at the end of the game usually, to let people out) is the tunnel leading into the centre section of the Leppings Lane end. That section was where all the people died. They were crushed against the fence by too many people coming in behind them.

        The wings at either side were almost empty. There was room for everyone trying to get in, but the tunnel should have had a police cordon closing it, and directing people to the side.

        The one thing that would have calmed everything down, and prevented the crush outside the ground that led to the gate being opened to relieve the pressure, was a simple announcement that kick-off was being delayed 30 mins.

        Announce that and everyone relaxes and quits trying to get in so rapidly.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 06:28:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Certainly, a delay would have helped calm (0+ / 0-)

          the crowd, but clearly there were other safety measures that could have been carried out, such as other openings for entry, more stewards, police could have assisted the situation. It never should have been allowed that the victims should take the blame for the situation, that the police and the owners of the stadium should have recognised their errors. There was clearly (demonstrated by the report) a cover-up, people died, those that were trying to help were impugned as thieves. The original inquest needs to be overturned asap and then criminal prosecutions on the destruction of evidence, incompetence of the coroner need to be done.

          Additionally, one wonders whether the situation (initial one) and subsequent cover-up and impugning of the victims and survivors would have occurred if these people were not working class and if it didn't suit the political interest of the government and the police.

          I have never been to the stadium, I appreciate your insights into the nature of the stadium. My comment was not meant to insult the team or its supporters who clearly tried to help people and save lives. But there have been changes since then in terms of the way in which football stadiums  entrance and exit is now done, so clearly things were different then.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 08:37:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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