- Created: Thursday, 02 June 2016 09:19
- Written by Carol Brickley
The final verdict of the Hillsborough inquest jury on 26 April 2016 has now established police responsibility for the 96 deaths in 1989. It took 27 years for the victims to get justice. The striking miners who were charged with riot at Orgreave in June 1984 are still waiting for an independent inquiry into police conduct. The Hillsborough verdict has reopened the issue of Orgreave, not least because the same police force was involved. Carol Brickley argues that these events are more than a question of police incompetence and corruption. What lies behind this contemptuous treatment of working class people are questions of state power.
Hillsborough – ‘a tanked-up mob’?
The scene of the Hillsborough disaster was the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in Sheffield in April 1989. When two central pens in the Liverpool stands became overcrowded and fans were already being crushed, police opened the stadium gates, adding to the lethal pressure. Liverpool supporters were already dying, but the police delayed the opening of escape routes on to the pitch and allowed only one ambulance into the ground, telling emergency crews that there was fighting inside. The dead and the injured had to be taken to the stadium’s gym where relatives were treated with cold contempt.
The cover-up of police responsibility began immediately. Lies were spread about drunken, ticketless, violent Liverpool fans. The Sunnewspaper and other media reported that the fans had robbed the dead and urinated on the police who were helping the injured. The sources for this slander were high-ranking officers in the South Yorkshire Police and the local Tory MP. The police ran criminal record checks on the dead in order to smear them. Working class football fans were the latest section of the population to be labelled ‘undeserving’ and ‘the enemy within’, just as black British youth had been vilified by police, media and the political elite following the uprisings of the 1980s and since.