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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009
    Respect is (over) due
    Drove past Anfield at 3.30 with the Hillsborough memorial service still in progress inside, and the pavements and central reservations of Priory Road, Utting Avenue and surrounding streets rammed with illegally parked vehicles: no wardens ticketing today. Returned just before sunset, for a few solemn minutes surveying the messages written on cards attached to the bunches of flowers lining Anfield Road pavement, the football scarves and shirts of many colours hanging from the gates, that eternal flame flickering beneath the names of the 96.

    In honesty, I only made this visit to respect the wishes of my niece and her friend, visiting today from down South, born five years after the carnage at Leppings Lane but struck by the story, wanting to witness and be part of the occasion. I felt more like a grief tourist, standing there more conscious of the closing dark and the chill wind blowing around the stadium than engaged with the scene in which I stood. Though I hope that by just being there I was showing a sign of respect, to the deceased, to their families still fighting for justice twenty years after the organisational debacle which resulted in the deaths of their loved ones - who were only trying to watch a football match.

    Maybe I'm griefed out; we've been through twenty of these days now. They'll continue, rightly. But the most energy in the day's events came in the heckling which Andy Burnham got from people demanding the goverment acts on its otherwise empty promises to release all the documents pertaining to that fatally botched police operation. We've paid our floral, solemn respects over and over and over. Still haven't had any respect returned from those who could admit failure, accept judgement and liberate closure. The institutional paralysis - which will not permit accountability or admit truth - must be broken. Respect is essential. Respect is overdue.

    Pic: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images from The Guardian
    Hillsborough Justice Campaign website here