Almost 100 goths and alternative dressers joined the black parade and walked proudly through the city centre yesterday in a mass show of solidarity.
The goths’ message was made loud and clear – an end to oppression against those who dress differently and they want people to be free to be individuals.
The procession of alternative dressers, most clad in black, moved from the Sundial at midday, up Armada Way, and around the city centre.
The march was also organised in memory of Sophie Lancaster, a young woman who was murdered simply for the way she looked. She was brutally attacked along with her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, while walking through a park near Manchester almost a year ago. The couple wore gothic fashion and were members of the goth subculture.
The march was one of a handful of processions across the country yesterday for the SOPHIE campaign – which stands for Stamp Out Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere.
Two teenager — part of a group of savages — who killed Sophie Lancaster have been sent to prison for 16 and 18 years. The judge quite correct referred to them as ‘feral thugs.’
A judge said the sadistic savagery of a gang of teenagers who attacked a young couple for being goths, “degrades humanity itself” as he jailed them for more than 40 years.
Brendan Harris, 15, and Ryan Herbert, 16, stamped and kicked Sophie Lancaster, 20, in the head as she lay defenceless.
She was “volleyed” in the face by Herbert, as if he was kicking a football, and kicked in the head by Harris as she cradled her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, 21.
Harris, along with Herbert, brothers Joseph and Danny Hulme, 17 and 16, and Daniel Mallet, 17, had moments earlier stamped and kicked Mr Maltby unconscious as Miss Lancaster tried to save him.
The savagery of the attack, launched simply because the pair were goths, was such that paramedics could not tell which sex the victims were. Miss Lancaster died in hospital 13 days later. Robert survived, but was mentally and physically scarred by the attack in Bacup, Lancashire, last August.
The tragic and senseless murder of a student who was killed because of the way she looked has inspired three people from North Wales to raise awareness and cash for charity.
When Sophie Lancaster, 20, a “goth” music fan from Lancashire, who dressed distinctively, was murdered a year ago, it shocked communities across the country and sympathy was expressed from alternative subcultures at home and abroad.Sophie Lancaster Tribute
Sophie and her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, were attacked in Bacup on August 11 last year. Sophie died from her injuries.
Both were dressed distinctively, and police said the attack may have been provoked by the couple wearing gothic fashion and being members of the goth subculture.
People from the region are now backing a campaign to work towards a more tolerant and less violent society.
Kevin Griffiths-Boden from Llay, and Alan and Rebecca Kilfoyle from Saltney, were so moved by the story they wanted to raise awareness and promote tolerance across North Wales and Chester.
A charitable foundation called S.O.P.H.I.E has been set up by Sophie’s mother, Sylvia.
Kevin, Alan and Rebecca were in Chester town centre at the weekend, handing out leaflets about the foundation and the campaign to make the legal definition of hate crime include offences motivated by appearance.
The charity, S.O.P.H.I.E, which stands for Stamp Out Prejudice Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere, will seek to help educate professionals such as the police and teachers about subcultures.
It will also continue the campaign to make the definition of a hate crime include offences motivated by appearance.
Two of Sophie’s teenage attackers were given life sentences for her murder.
Sylvia Lancaster hopes the Sophie Lancaster Foundation will be a lasting legacy to her daughter.
In a message on website www.myspace.com/inmemoryofsophie, Sylvia wrote: “We will develop and deliver workshops tackling the issues and challenging preconceptions.
To raise funds and awareness, official S.O.P.H.I.E. wristbands are available from www.backstreetmerch.com.
Devonshire Green was filled with people of all ages, shapes and sizes on – but there was only one colour to be seen.
The green was a sea of black as around a hundred ‘Goths’ assembled for a march around the city centre in a plea for tolerance from a society they feel gives them little respect.
Everywhere you looked there was black eyeliner, crosses and an air of melancholy.
Under a banner saying ‘The Parade of United Souls’ they said the march was not only for Goths but for any of the youth subcultures that weren’t accepted by wider society.
Stephen Clark, aged 33, of Wincobank, said: “We are marching to promote the end of prejudice and to bring recognition that just because you look at little bit different you shouldn’t be treated differently.
“Some people think we look a bit scary, but we are only human. We have the same rights as everyone else and we just want an end to the bullying and prejudice.
“My partner was talking to a Goth in the Peace Gardens the other day and this girl was saying how her hair had been set on fire by some people at school. Apparently the teacher said to her that it was her own fault for looking like the devil’s daughter.”
The march on Sunday afternoon was arranged in response to the death of Sophie Lancaster. Brendan Harris, 15, and Ryan Herbert, 16, were jailed for life for killing Sophie Lancaster in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, Lancashire, last August.