Why it is important to remember Soho?

Yesterday was the 30th April, the 12th Anniversary of the London Nail Bomb attack on the Admiral Duncan in Soho that left many people injured and three people dead. To mark the anniversary, survivors, friends and family gathered as they always do at the Admiral Duncan bar at 6pm before walking together round to St Anne’s Gardens for a short act of remembrance.

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The service was lead by Fr Simon Grigg (from St Paul’s in Covent Garden), with a minutes silence at 6.37pm to mark the time that the bomb had exploded. Afterwards Terry Morley read out a poem called “What Happens in Soho” on behalf of her grand-daughter Jessica Moore aged 10. This was followed by another poem read out by two of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. About 40-50 people gathered around the triangular memorial bench in the garden to hear the speeches, and take part in the service – remembering John Light, Nik Moore, Andrea Dykes who lost their lives as well as David Morley (fondly known as Sinders to many of his friends) along with all other victims of hate crime past and present.

The Triangular memorial bench was designed to represent the importance of the relationship between the three communities that were attacked, whilst the three cherry trees symbolise the love for those killed in Soho. Three candles were lit representing the three acts of remembrance that are held each year, symbolising life, remembrance and hope.

Councillors Jonathan Glanz and Frixos Tombolis attended representing West End Ward, along with Cllr Jan Prendergast acting as the Deputy Lord Mayor of Westminster. The event was also supported by the Soho Safer Neighbourhood team, including Pc Andy Ricketts who is Westminster’s Police LGBT Liaison Officer. Guests included Terry Morley and her daughter Victoria representing Nik Moore’s family, and Neil Hodgson (manager of Comptons) amongst others.

Meanwhile 22 members of Nik Moore’s family and friends gathered at Nik Moore’s memorial bench in Flexistowe for a similar act of remembrance.

This was the third and final act of remembrance this year, marking the three nail bomb attacks on Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho in April 1999. The nail bomber deliberately set out to attack the Black, Asian and Gay communities of these areas because he wanted to strike fear amongst them. He wanted to divide the communities, in the hope that this would lead to race riots, which would eventually lead to the election of the BNP. Luckily his plan failed.

The acts of remembrance are important to the survivors, and the friends and families of those injured and killed because they provide an opportunity for people to come together and remember what happened and show their support to those affected by these horrendous crimes. They enable people to express their thoughts and feelings about the past, to take stock of the present and look forward to the future.

Whilst the past for some is painful to remember, these acts of remembrance serve to provide people with some comfort and hope. Hope that by coming together we can prevent this from happening again.

They also provide the communities attacked with opportunities to raise awareness of the need to tackle hate crime, to educate new generations so that they remain vigilant and work together to challenge racism and homophobia in all their forms. This is why it is important that our communities’ newspapers and media continue to cover these events and encourage the wider communities to join us and show us their support.

It is also important that representatives from Westminster Council, the Metropolitan Police and the LGBT Business Community attend these events – not just to stand together and show their support to those involved but to ensure that tackling hate crime continues to remain on the political agenda.

We need everyone to work together to ensure that the progress that has been made since the bombing attacks continues to move forward, and that more is done to help our communities thrive and develop. Doing what we can to remain vigilant and safe.

This year’s act of remembrance in St Anne’s Gardens was organised by Craig Taylor (Manager of the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Duncan pub) and Mark Healey (17-24-30 No to Hate Crime Campaign). Thanks to everyone who has been involved this year.

The 17-24-30 group was set up on Facebook in 2009 to mark the 10th Anniversary of the London Nail Bomb attacks, and the name of the group is a combination of the dates of the three bomb attacks.

People often ask what 17-24-30 stands for, which then enables a conversation to take place about three bombs that were planted in Brixton 17th April, Brick Lane 24th April and Soho on the 30th April.

It leads us to explain that these attacks were targeted at the Black, Asian and Gay Communities of these areas. It is important to remember that this was the first time that these communities have been targeted together in such a way, which provides us with the opportunity to draw a comparison between the threats of racism and homophobia and why it is important that we work together to address these issues together.

Later in 2009 Ian Baynham was homophobically attacked and later died from his injuries in Trafalgar Square. 17-24-30 organised the first candle-lit vigil against hate crime in Trafalgar Square which was attended by 10,000 people. Slowly the group has evolved into the 17-24-30 No to Hate Crime Campaign.

The purpose of the campaign continues to support and facilitate the three acts of remembrance in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho each year, as well as to build much more support for the Candle-lit Vigil in Trafalgar Square each October. Its aim is to bring people together through acts of remembrance, to encourage people to continue to work together to tackle hate crime in our communities.

In 2010, three acts of remembrance were successfully held in Windrush Square, Altab Ali Park and St Anne’s Gardens and the Candle-lit Vigil against hate crime became an international event attended by Stuart Milk from the Harvey Milk Foundation (who travelled over from the States) and supported by other Vigils against hate crime that took place around the county and abroad, including one held on the steps of City Hall in Vancover, Canada.

This year 2011, thee more acts of remembrance have been held and the campaign has launched two new WordPress sites to help promote the good work that is being done. The first called 172430notohatecrime will focus on providing updates about the London Nail Bomb anniversaries each year, with local information about what is going on in Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and Westminster. Whilst the second hatecrimevigils will focus on preparations for the annual Candle-lit Vigils against hate crime, including updates about this year’s event in London as well as what is happening elsewhere around the country and abroad.

For more information contact mark@17-24-30.org

or write to 17-24-30 No to Hate Crime Campaign, Studio 151, 77 Beak Street, London W1F 9DM

About 172430notohatecrime

Founder of 17-24-30 No to Hate Crime Campaign
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