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Hillsborough Verdicts Exonerate The 96

After 27 years of blaming the victims for the Hillsborough tragedy, there is finally some justice for the 96.

Dave Thompson/Getty Images

In the immediate wake of the Hillsborough disaster, grieving friends and family of the 96 victims were confronted with a new horror: the wholesale victim-blaming and lack of accountability by certain politicians, members of the police force, and the media outlets. For more than a quarter century, Liverpool supporters have been fighting these vicious accusations, and today the courts confirmed what we've known for a long time: the 96 were victims of a horrible, unnecessary, and preventable tragedy. The 96 were not the cause of their own demise, but the result of a horrible combination of circumstances, up to and including the police force who were directly responsible for ensuring their safety.

The jury sided with Liverpool in every question asked, most importantly:

  • Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed, and were not to blame for the disaster.
  • Police failed to properly plan and prepare for the semifinal.
  • Police response was "slow and uncoordinated."
  • Commanding officers failed to recognize the pens were at capacity, and their errors contributed to the crush.
  • The design and layout of holding pens three and four were not compliant with safety regulations.
  • Police and ambulance officers failed to recognize the scale of the problem, which led to critical delays.
As the verdicts were announced there were cheers in the courtroom, and a feeling of relief and closure for the families who have fought long and hard for the truth to be formally recognized. The feeling of justice cannot be overstated when it comes to the process of healing. For nearly three decades Liverpool supporters have had to endure the perception of guilt on top of the grief of having nearly 100 fans go to a football match never to return. Today is an important step in the healing of the community, and the righting of a series of horrible wrongs. Nothing can extinguish the pain of that horrible day, nor the events in the immediate aftermath, but we finally have some measure of justice for the 96.

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