I've taken my time to put some thoughts down about what is an extremely emotive and difficult time for the families and survivors of the Hillsborough disaster.
I think it can be easy to appear trite when registering your recognition or remembrance of the Hillsborough disaster and the lengthy and horrifically tough fight for justice that continues for the families. I don't want to doubt the sincerity of anyone who recognises the disaster (and our social media accounts posted tribute posts on the 15th of April to recognise the day so you could accuse me of hypocrisy) but it does feel that somehow a hashtag or throwaway post of JFT96 almost trivialises the sheer enormity of injustice that we are dealing with. The reports of people attending the memorial service to take photos and chant the name of players makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable, angry and sad.
I'm an unashamed out of towner, born with no connection to Liverpool and too young to remember the disaster itself, only to decide upon Liverpool FC as my club of choice as a youngster. There was no reason other than a naive attraction towards certain players and a club that seemed different.
So my first awareness of the Hillsborough disaster was from the internet and the early days of Liverpool message boards and chat rooms. At school I read "Hillsborough - The Truth" by Phil Scraton and became immediately immersed in the horrendous injustice and horror of what happened to Liverpool fans and their families not just that day but for years after. An injustice which still remains.
Only over the last couple of years has the incredible injustice begun to be uncovered and a slow realisation is creeping across the wider country. Unfortunately I worry that irreparable damage has been done by the horrific and undeniable smear campaign of blame against the people of Liverpool by the establishment, Thatcher's government, a right wing press and the police.
Having lived in Liverpool for 10 years after University I am now back down south and have to endure the lazy stereotyping of Liverpool on a weekly basis. My colleagues at work or people I come across are perfectly nice and well meaning but I tire of baseless and lazy comments around Liverpool as a place and specifically the Hillsborough disaster. Comments along the lines of "why are people still banging on about it" and "yeah maybe the police messed up, but I bet the fans weren't angels" shows just how deeply the lies and smears have penetrated our modern society.
I will use the word again - injustice. The scale of which is almost incomprehensible. A government in power, supposedly there to represent democracy and us; a police force supposedly there to protect us; a supposedly free and ethical media all conspired to lie and heap misery and pain on families who had suffered horrifically. They conspired to categorically discredit a whole region and turn the rest of the country against them.
I don't want to preach to anyone, but whether you are connected to Liverpool or not, if that injustice doesn’t anger you and make your blood boil then you are a vacuous and cold being that I don't want to know.
The fight for justice isn't over and it must continue alongside a respectful and compassionate understanding of what the families and survivors have been through. They need our support, they need our help, but more than anything they deserve our respect.
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