By New Worker correspondent
A COUPLE of hundred people gathered last Saturday evening in Trafalgar Square, despite the rain and cold, to remember the victims of hate crime.
Many would have taken part in the massive TUC march through London earlier in the afternoon and stayed on to join the No to Hate Crime candlelight vigil in the evening.
The event was the fourth annual vigil organised by “17-24-30”, a registered charity formed to commemorate the victims of the neo-nazi London nail bomber, David Copeland. The numbers represent the dates in April 1999 when Copeland set off his bombs in Brixton Market, Brick Lane and the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho.
Copeland targeted the Black, Asian and Gay communities of Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho in the hope that it would trigger racist violence across the capital. Over the course of three weeks he planted three nail bombs which killed three people and injured many more.
Pictures from the archives of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight helped to identify .Copeland as a former member of the British National Party with strong links to organised racists and fascists.
17-24-30 believes that it is important to bring people together. The gatherings are important to those who have been affected by the attacks, they bring our local communities together, and provide families and friends with the support and opportunity to gather and remember loved ones.
Since then the scope has been widened to include all victims of hate crime but especially those who are targeted for being gay, lesbian, bi or transsexual.
A number of speakers from the labour, community and LGBT movements addressed the meeting and music was provided by the L-Project and the London Gay Symphony Orchestra and messages of support from David Miliband, Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson and many others were read out.
Finn McGoldrick (NUS LGBT campaign) told those assembled that BNP leader Nick Griffin had put the names and addresses of two gays who recently won compensation for being refused accommodation together at a small boarding house on Twitter along with a homophobic rant.
Griffin also suggested a demonstration outside the men’s home to intimidate them. Since then Griffin’s own home address has been posted on Facebook.
Bisi Alimi is a young gay Nigerian refugee who had to flee for his life to Britain. He told the assembly of the many friends and colleagues he has lost who have been killed because of the sexuality.
He came to Britain bearing physical and emotional scars. “And while I ran away from Nigeria with the hope of finding solace in the UK, I had to deal with homophobic abuse and even physical assault because of my sexuality in Britain too,” he said.
“I remember vividly the attack I experienced in south London in 2008, just a year after escaping death in Nigeria. I was slapped and beaten in Lewisham by a group of boys. My only sin was that I had kissed my then-boyfriend goodnight.”