The truth has come, now for the justice. As a city remembers the 96 victims and honours their families, focus turns to those who tried to keep the facts hidden
The wide cobbled concourse of St Georges Hall, Liverpools monumental landmark to Britains imperial past, played host to a rally of thousands on Wednesday, assembled to honour both the 96 people who died so needlessly at Hillsborough in 1989 and their families landmark legal vindication.
People gathered in the sunshine from early afternoon, their response to the jurys verdict markedly solemn, in remembrance to those who died and respect for their families epic fight against South Yorkshire police lies, but no tone of raw triumph.
Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG), whose 18-year-old son, James, died in the terrible crush 27 years ago, denounced those lies, paid tribute to all who supported the families and called for justice to follow the truth of the jurys verdict.
As the news came that David Crompton, the current South Yorkshire police chief constable vehemently criticised for failing to stand by his 2012 apology for the disaster and lies during the inquest, had been suspended, Aspinall told the 20,000-strong crowd: Its nice to know we have started on the right track with somebody who has been suspended from South Yorkshire police.
To cheers, Aspinall called for more heads to roll: Lets hope thats only the beginning of whats going to be done because all you, like all of us, have had 27 years of sleepless nights. Lets hope theyre getting theirs now. It starts from now.
The family members walked out to huge applause and chants of Justice for the 96. Young footballers from both Everton and Liverpool clubs laid 96 red roses out on the neo-classical building, beside a candle for each fan that died on 15 April 1989.
The truth has triumphed, the mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said. Yesterday, the wall of lies was finally torn down. The real truth came out.
The city, represented by Anderson and the supporters of Liverpool football club whose beloved manager on the day of the disaster, Kenny Dalglish, gave a reading, have grown used to these demonstrations of communal solidarity over so many years.
Yet for too long, those gatherings were different, not held on Wednesdays wave of political support, national empathy and public acceptance of the truth, but in a chill wind of isolation: disbelieved, ignored or, worse, derided.
Although after the verdicts on Tuesday the families reacted with cheers, applause and that rendition of Youll Never Walk Alone outside the makeshift Warrington courtroom where they had been forced over the two year inquest to re-live their horror, they are still left with their loss.
Phil Hammond, the former chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group for nine arduous, largely fruitless years from 1999 to 2008, always explained that he and his wife, Hilda, felt they could not grieve properly for their 14-year-old son, Philip Jr, because of police lies and the justice campaign that had to be fought.
So, there was a sense of grieving and vindication, not celebration, in the quiet of the people before the event, the 96 simple candles in lanterns on the steps in front of the hall, the scarves, flowers and messages.
The banner draped in front of the hall spelt the words truth and justice over the names of the 96 people who were remembered with such love and fondness by their families at the inquest, simple principles so maddeningly out of reach for so long.
For years, although the families were campaigning relentlessly against the South Yorkshire police blaming of the victims and the original 1991 inquest verdict of accidental death, this vindication was a day many could not imagine coming.
Throughout, they have remembered bereaved parents and campaigners who have died in the 27 years and did not ever see the jurys justice: Joan Traynor, whose two sons Christopher and Kevin died and who was a founder member of the HFSG; Eddie Spearritt, who was with his 14-year-old son Adam in the hell of that lethal crush and suffered suvivors guilt for failing to save him; Anne Williams, the famous warrior for her 15-year-old son Kevins good name, whose brother, Danny, made a moving speech, and, sadly, many others.