THERE are few words fit to describe how people felt on hearing the news about the bombing at Manchester Arena.
The people who planned and carried out the bombing would have known that this concert would attract very young people.
Going to your first live gig is something of a “rite of passage” for a lot of youngsters, it’s a family event, brothers and sisters, mums and dads, older siblings holding the hands of the younger ones.
It is the innocent nature of such an event which contrasts so starkly with the brutality and barbarity of such an atrocity.
Manchester, that over-the-Pennines city, is the red rose to our white one.
The banter, the rivalry, the jokes about the perpetual Manchester rain will never stop but today, tomorrow, this week and in the future Leeds will stand beside Manchester in grief, in hope and in unity. Those in that city are our cousins, our friends in the north.
Such murderous acts are made to sow discord and distrust.
Those who carry them out do not want you to feel safe taking your family out to a pop concert, walking through a city, at a public gathering.
And they want you to grow suspicious, fearful and mistrustful.
But the humanity shown by ordinary people, from all faiths, from all cultures, from all backgrounds in Manchester immediately after the attack transcended everything and brought out the basic humanity within people. It has resonated throughout the country, throughout the world.
It is incumbent upon us all to make sure that the 13-year-olds of future generations can enjoy a childhood without fear and mistrust.
That means we stand strongly together at the darkest times. We remember Jo Cox’s words that we have more in common than that which divides us.
That means standing together with all those who have been killed, injured or bereaved by this suicide bomb attack.
It also means standing together to make sure that the weeds of hatred cannot grow within our cities and towns.
Weeds do not grow where there are no cracks and we cannot let such attacks allow our society to become fragmented.
As the death toll rises our resolve must grow as well. But for now Leeds’ hearts and minds are with the victims and their families.