Candle-lit vigil in Norwich against hate crime

About 100 people joined a candle-lit vigil to remember the victims of hate crimes and to unite with a message of tolerance and acceptance.

The third annual Norwich Vigil Against Hate Crime began with a performance by the Pride Choir as crowds gathered outside the Forum in central Norwich last night.

A two-minute silence was held and speakers included Kate McKenna from the Octagon Chapel, Green city councillor Samir Jeraj and Deanna Allison from the Norwich Pride Collective.

The aim was to raise awareness of hate crimes while acknowledging the need for communities to work together to tackle the problem.

Organisers said this year's event had become more significant following the murder of gay hotel barman Stuart Walker in Scotland last weekend.

Nick O'Brien, organiser of the Norwich Vigil, said: 'It is shocking that in 2011 people are still suffering from hate crime but recent media coverage of the death of Stuart Walker and the allegations of racist comments made by professional footballers both in this country and in Spain show that there is much more to be done.

'We hope that all the vigils will inspire people to think about the impact that hate crime has within our communities and to work together to ensure that it is prevented.'

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The event was organised with the support of 17-24-30, a group founded in 2009 to mark the 10th anniversary of the London nail bomb attacks which targeted ethnic and gay communities.

Mark Healey, founder of 17-24-30, said: 'The vigil is not just about remembering those we have lost, and those who still need our support.

'In this economic climate it is about supporting and sign-posting the people and organisations that are on the front line – those that are already tackling issues of hate crime in our communities.

'We need to ensure that their funding continues and we support the good work they are doing.'

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