Pinknews.co.uk speaks to Mark Healey from community group 17-24-30 about why more needs to be done to combat hate crime.

The 17-24-30 group was set up by Mark Healey to mark the 10th anniversary of the London nail bomb attacks.

“I wanted to bring people together to remember the attacks on three different communities in Brixton (17th April), Brick Lane (24th April) and Soho (30th April)” Healey told Pinknews.co.uk.

“Over 2,800 people joined the 17-24-30 Facebook group and pledged their support.

“I think that it’s really important for the community to get involved in the fight against Hate Crime.”

The group took on more prominence after the tragic homophobic murder of Ian Baynham near Trafalgar Square:

“The brutal murder of Ian Baynham last year was a stark reminder of the human cost of homophobic hate crime, which is on the rise.

“London has a proud history of coming together to oppose hatred and division; as it was epitomised by the vigil we organised in Trafalgar Square last year.

Within fifteen days the group organised a candle-lit vigil called “NO TO HATE”. Approximately 10,000 took part in the vigil in Trafalgar Square, events also took place around the UK and in countries as far as the US and New Zealand.

“Our main objective now is to set the group up as a charity so that it is more accountable and accessible to the communities that it wants to work with,” explained Healey.

The group has agreed to focus on four events; three events are in the process of being planned for April 2010 to mark the 11th Anniversary of the London nail bomb attacks and a much larger event on 30th October 2010 launching an international hate crime day.

“We want as many countries as possible to join together and hold an event against hate crime.

“At the candle lit vigil last year there was a real sense of community, a connection amongst everyone there. I think that we should use that hope and that strength to remember what has happened and ensure that it does not happen again.”

The “NO TO HATE” vigil last October was London’s largest ever vigil against hate crime.

A number of politicians and representatives attended and spoke about the importance of tackling hate crime. Reading out Prime Minister Gordon Browns letter of support, Labour minister Maria Eagle reiterated:

“The homophobia which killed Ian, like Daryl Phillips, Gerry Edwards, James Kerr and Jody Dobrowski before him, breeds in the silence.

“My thoughts are with Ian’s family and friends, and with those of James Parks who remains critically ill in hospital.”

Speaking on the night exclusively to Pinknews.co.uk, Sarah Brown applauded those responsible for organizing the event:

“ The organisers have done an extraordinary job,

“It’s unbelievable that they have done so much in just two weeks.”

If you would like to support the 17-24-30 group you can get more information from www.17-24-30.org or search 17-24-30 on Facebook.