Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Justice awakening

23 years since Hillsborough. And finally we start to see justice. 23 bloody years.

A report that says what we all knew, and yet nobody in authority wanted to admit.

The Police lied. Their lawyers told them how to lie. The Sun published lies and claimed it was the truth. The Government was complicit.

How could it be the Police at fault? Clearly the Scousers were drunk, reckless criminals - trampling on and desecrating their own dead. So the lie ran.

23 years. Through all those years that their relatives, friends and fellow Liverpool fans campaigned for them, they never walked alone. So it's not justice for the 96 yet. But maybe it's awakening.


  1. This tragedy obviously means something to the people in the UK that it can't to me.

    But I wonder - what kind of justice can there be on this earth for something like this? There can never be an appropriate recompense or reparations.

    And why must one have the ritual apology or semi-apology from someone who wasn't there or responsible to those who survived?

    I can't imagine I'd find that the least bit meaningful.

    Then again, when I've been really badly hurt by others (or, even more so, if someone I love has been), it not only isn't some kind of 'apology' from some public figure who didn't actually carry out the wrongdoing I want.

    It probably isn't really justice I want, anyway, because it won't change anything of importance to me. It's something rather disturbingly like vengeance.

    A local woman has spoken publically about how, after decades, she was able to forgive the man who killed her father with an axe in front of his family as they sat down to breakfast. That is heroic forgiveness, and, together with the legal and medical treatment of the killer, is probably as close to justice as we can get.

  2. The apology does make sense, I think, because the government lies were produced on behalf of the government and it is the institution of government that has to apologise and clear up its act. It's no good having individual scapegoats (even if they are to blame) when the culture that allows these things to happen doesn't change.

    An apology can be an acceptance of wrong having been done, of the deeper reasons recognised and of a serious intention to change the system.

    And how often have victims said "I know nothing can change what happened, I just wanted them to say they were sorry".
    If the apology is genuine and if it leads to genuine change (2 big ifs, I grant you), it will be a very important first step.

  3. Apologies do seem to be meaningful to some victims, yes. Condolences - 'I'm sorry that happened to you/ your relative' - are also important, although they aren't apologies.

    THAT sort of ritual apology wouldn't, to me. It's not from any member of the organization on the ground responsible for cloud control. It's not from whichever ones made the mistake - or, if necessary, whichever ones designed the training, or had some responsibility one step back.

    An apology is an admittance of wrongdoing from the person who committed that fault. Not from a culture - a culture isn't a person, can't make choices, can't make changes. Individuals can change, and by doing so, change the culture, not the other way round.

    And, ideally, once the apology is out there, maybe reconciliation can take place. But I still can't see how some apology from a poltician who wasn't even in charge at the time, and whose predecessor wasn't responsible for crowd control anyway is more than a meaningless ritual.

    We do it a lot over on this side of the Atlantic, too. Push the responsibility off on to something amorphous like culture or the System, have a prominent person make a nice apologetic speech, and everything's supposed to be hunky-dory again. But it often isn't, and sometimes, the people who go through the Valley and realize that sometimes some wrongs can't be fixed or blame properly assigned this side of the grave do better than those who get wrapped up in rhetorical apologies. And they use the time freed up to build safer stadiums, or whatever.

  4. But everyone complained that Germany had repeatedly apologised for World War II while Japan hadn't.
    Clearly, that sort of apology is still important.

  5. Cheryl - a bit of context you may not have picked up.

    All the Beaker Folk leadership (I use the term not in a hierarchical way, but because we'e in charge) are Liverpool fans. Though we're not all from Liverpool. Some have adopted Liverpoolism, and others have had it thrust upon them.

    In the days of the previous Tory government, Liverpool (the city) was in a poor state of decline. In a city with poor employment prospects and a council effectively at war with the national Government, the football clubs - red and blue - were two great sources of pride and - being working-class British people - identity. Even today, Anfield and Goodison (the stadia of Liverpool FC and some bunch that play in blue, respectively) are right in the middle of the working-class part of Liverpool. Many houses - and entire streets - are boarded up just yards from "the fields of Anfield Road".

    Scousers are a diverse, resilient bunch with a stunningly dry sense of humour. But they also have an unfair reputation as whingers and scroungers. The Heysel stadium disaster was blamed totally on Liverpool fans - although hooliganism was a factor, bad policing and a rubbish stadium were also to blame. And so when the Hillsborough disaster happened, the authorities (especially those with most to hide) rushed to lump blame on the Liverpudlians. The easy targets.

    The litany of guilt is now very firmly in the public domain. And those (mostly) young people - and many children - who died in Hillsborough are shown to be the victims they are, not accomplices in their own demise. The tragedy hit at the heart of the community, the city of Liverpool and fans throughout the world. They've been grieving, they're angry as hell, they've demanded justice and they're finally seeing daylight. The Hillsborough Memorial outside Anfield is a place of pilgrimage, and personally I can't go there and then, shortly afterwards, sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" inside the ground, with a dry eye.

    It's not often in this world that a guilty Establishment has to admit what it's done. So as long as there's a grieving relative, and a culpable authority figure who's not had to answer, justice will not be done. Let them face justice.

    And today, though there's still plenty of problems, Liverpool also has a lot of hope and a lot of heart. The city's on the up, and hopefully the team that play in red will follow on. You never know.

  6. Hillsborough Report shows the depths that society will descend to to avoid accountability and find a scapegoat.

    It was ever so, but fortunately in these more enlightened times, cover ups like this, after being a disgraceful running sore, has finally been lanced.

    We spoken about Police, Emergency Services and Lawyers being part of the cover up, the role of the Coroner, Dr Popper has been largely ignored. But the families of the Victims have always demanded a new inquest, because they believed that the original one was fatally flawed, particularly the limitation of the cut off time to 1515, which precluded investigation into those who were alive after that time and later died or into how the police and emergency services dealt with the casualties and aftercare.

    It's time it was aired and finally the panel who reported the other day have opened it up to real scrutiny at last. Hopefully the families will now receive some justice, peace and closure.


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