Day Against Hate Crimes in the City of Vancouver: Vigil of Hope and Remembrance

October 21, 2010

Vancouver will stand in unity with London, UK, in a Day Against Hate Crime on October 23, 2010, with a view to bringing local and worldwide attention to the issue of hate crime against all marginalised communities.

Organized by the City of Vancouver LGBTQ Advisory Committee and 17-24-30 in London, a candlelight vigil in both cities will bring together members of queer, people of colour and women’s communities in unity against hate crime. In Vancouver, the vigil will take place on the steps of City Hall, where Mayor Gregor Robertson will read a Proclamation declaring October 23 “Day Against Hate Crime” in the City of Vancouver. In London, an estimated 10,000 people will gather in Trafalgar Square, the site of a homophobic murder in 2009.

“The link between the two cities this year is a deliberate act on the part of queer activists in both cities to build an international movement against all hate crime, which brings together people from all the communities affected by crimes against them on the basis of who they are,” says Ryan Clayton, a member of Vancouver’s Citizens LGBTQ Advisory Committee.

Day Against Hate Crime was first envisioned by activists in London UK. Its aim was to counter needless divisions between communities targeted by hate crime and instead, forge relationships between communities with a view to tackling the issue of hate crime together.

When a 62-year-old gay man, Ian Baynham, was attacked and killed in Trafalgar Square last year by homophobic youth, queer activists came together to hold a vigil against hate crime. The event drew over 10,000 people, including the Deputy Mayor of London and the Prime Minister’s wife. The organisers of that vigil called themselves 17-24-30, which, as Mark Healey, founder of the group explains, “stands for the dates of the three nail bombs that were planted in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho in 1999 by David Copeland, who wanted to cause a race war by targeting the Black, Asian and gay communities. Luckily he failed and was caught – but not before he had planted the three bombs over the weekend, injuring about
200 people and killing three people.

“The London Nail Bombers agenda was simple yet terrifying; he intended to light a spark that would ignite a violent reaction from minority communities and lead to an all-out race war, culminating in the coming to power of the right-wing British National Party,” Healey adds.

The link between Vancouver and London was forged this year between members of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee to Council at Vancouver City Hall and 17-24-30’s Emma Hands and Healey.

“The aims of 17-24-30 resonated with us,” says Fatima Jaffer, coordinator of the vigil and a member of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee. “Both our cities are known as multicultural and queer-friendly, yet there have been hate crimes against members of both communities. And yet marginalised communities are being pitted against each other. We wanted to find a way to bring communities together on common ground, to stand united in the face of violence and discrimination.”

The Vancouver Vigil Against Hate Crime will be held on the steps of Vancouver City Hall on Saturday, October 23, at 5.30 p.m. There will be speeches from representatives of communities impacted by hate crimes. The action will culminate in a moment of silence in recognition of all those whose lives have been curtailed or impacted by hate crimes. All members of the media and the public are
invited to attend.

NB. The Vigil will be preceded by an official reading of the Proclamation by Mayor Gregor Robertson on Oct 19 in Council Chambers. The Proclamation will be read again by the Mayor at the Vigil on October 23.

EVENT: Day Against Hate Crime in the City of Vancouver – Vigil of Hope and Remembrance
DATE: Saturday, October 23, 2010
TIME: 5:30pm
PLACE: Vancouver City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue (front steps)