Hillsborough vigil: Families of the 96 hailed at commemorative service in Liverpool
Families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster have united at a special commemorative service in Liverpool to reflect on their 27-year quest for justice.
At St George's Hall in the city, crowds gathered in their thousands to applaud the families of the disaster as they made their way down the steps following the jury's conclusion that fans had been unlawfully killed.
As they walked hand in hand, the sea of people erupted in chanting: "Justice for the 96."
In addressing the crowd, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said that "the truth had triumphed".
He added: "Yesterday, the wall of lies was finally torn down. The real truth came out yesterday."
Mr Anderson said the tragedy was the biggest cover-up in history.
He then turned to pay tribute to the "inspirational" families and campaigners, "who won a tremendous battle: you fought for the values truth and justice. Never has our city been more proud of what you have achieved and done."
He added that they were "united in grief, united in love and support".
Mr Anderson said that it was because of the "incompetence of those in charge" who, he added, "tried to lay the blame at the door of our fans", that the 96 had lost their lives.
Mr Anderson said that Rupert Murdoch's newspapers "didn't even bother" to put Hillsborough on their front covers, adding that they were denying the fans the "spotlight they deserve".
Many bowed their heads as prayers were said for those who had died, as well as the families, campaigners and the jury, who had "put their lives on hold" for two years.
Liverpool FC legend Kenny Dalglish, who managed the team on the day of the tragedy in 1989, read a passage from the Bible, and added: "You'll never walk alone," before the crowds joined together in song.
Many had chosen to wear red in tribute to the Liverpool supporters.
A red and white banner bearing the names of the victims stood tall against the pillars of St George's Hall, with the words "truth" and "justice" in huge letters.
As the day went on, hundreds of floral tributes were placed on the stairs while Liverpool scarves, flags and rosettes were attached to the nearby lamp-posts.
As the 96 victims' names were read aloud, the crowd fell silent.
Margaret Aspinall, who lost her son James, was met with rapturous applause when she took to the stand to thank everyone.
She said that after listening to the "lies" in court, South Yorkshire Police ought to "hang their heads in shame".
"The system, the police force of South Yorkshire ought to be ashamed of themselves and hang their head in shame."
She added that following the news that David Crompton had been suspended, she said they were on the "right track".
"Let's hope that is only the beginning of what is going to be done."
She added that the people of Liverpool had had, 27 years of sleepless nights, "let's hope they get theirs now"
Ms Aspinall added: "It's not just justice for the 96, it's justice for our fans, for survivors and the city who were there that day."
Sheila Cole. on behalf of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, also took to the stage saying that the authorities had "picked on the wrong city" and applauded the jury's commitment.
She also applauded the tenacity of families, who she said had held their heads up high and "never gave up hope...in the face of lies, cover up and conspiracy".
She said: "Hope and humanity, that's what this fight for justice has brought to our society. You make me proud to be from this city."
Justice at last for the 96!! You'll never walk alone!! pic.twitter.com/FCOWDJDkCH— Luis Suarez (@LuisSuarez9) April 27, 2016
At last justice for the 96 and their families. Well done to all who never gave up #jft96— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) April 26, 2016
Hillsborough about more than establishment cover up of tragic deaths. Also about a state-led cultural vilification of a city & its people.— Irvine Welsh (@IrvineWelsh) April 26, 2016
27 years ago 96 people were killed unlawfully. To their shame the authorities covered it up. Time for truth and time for justice.#JFT96— John Bishop (@JohnBishop100) April 26, 2016
Well done to everybody who has been fighting for this the last 27 years!You guys are amazing!Today you got your reward! Truth is out!#JFT96— John Arne Riise (@JARiiseOfficial) April 26, 2016
Justice finally. #JFT96— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) April 26, 2016
Just landed from China and catching up with the news.— michael owen (@themichaelowen) April 26, 2016
Finally and way, way, way overdue, the truth prevails and justice is served. #jft96.
We salute the Hillsborough families and their total vindication as Fighters for Justice. pic.twitter.com/rojHHOySJ3— Everton (@Everton) April 26, 2016
A landmark day for all affected by the Hillsborough tragedy.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 26, 2016
27 years of courage, resilience and determination. pic.twitter.com/MwzdXQsO4x
Belfast Telegraph Digital