Leeds and Yorkshire join silence in tribute to Manchester Arena suicide attack victims

Leeds and Yorkshire fell silent in an emotional tribute to the Manchester Arena suicide bombing victims.

Thursday, 25th May 2017, 12:51 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:49 pm
Community members come together in Centenary Square in Bradford. PIC: SWNS

At 11am thousands of people across the country bowed their heads for a minute of sombre contemplation, as investigations into the network behind the attack continued.

In Leeds, Victoria Gardens by The Headrow was packed with citizens wishing to pay their respects alongside dignitaries, MPs and council bosses.

On his final day as the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Gerry Harper addressed the crowd before the minute silence.

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Community members come together in Centenary Square in Bradford. PIC: SWNS

He said: “I was horrified and saddened to hear of the terrorist attack in Manchester on Monday night.

“On behalf of everyone in Leeds, I would like to express our heartfelt support and sympathy to the people of Manchester.

“We offer our condolences to everyone who has been affected by this awful situation, which also affects and includes victims and their families from Leeds.

“Also, I would like to pay tribute to the work of the emergency and public services who responded on the evening.

People observe a minute's silence in St Ann's Square, Manchester. PIC: PA

“Leeds is one of the most successful cities in Europe in terms of how diverse our communities live, work and play together.

“I’m so very proud to have been Lord Mayor of Leeds in this last year and proud to lead the tributes to all those affected by this awful terrorist attack.”

People in the gardens, including armed police officers and those holding flowers, stopped for a minute silence.

Speaking afterwards, Leeds Central candidate Hilary Benn said: “What’s important to do is to stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends in Manchester.

Community members come together in Centenary Square in Bradford. PIC: SWNS

“We need to comfort the grieving, to tend to the wounded but to show, by standing together, we will not be cowed, we will not be bowed, we will not have our way of life taken away from us.

“We will not be terrorized, we will carry on, we will get on with our lives. For me, I think that’s best reproach we can give as a society for those who commit these dreadful crimes and murder children.”

And candidate for Leeds East, Richard Burgon, said: “Concerts must carry on, gigs must carry on, family life must go on.”

Qari Asim, Imam at Makkah Mosque in Hyde Park, said: “Ceremony’s like that [the minute silence] are hugely important because they send out a very strong message to terrorist extremists that communities are united and that we will not play to their tunes. Terrorists want to sow the seeds of division. They want to reinforce the them and us narrative.”

People observe a minute's silence in St Ann's Square, Manchester. PIC: PA

He added: “Muslims are saying Britain is our shared home. We belong here and we will defend the values of this country that has stood us the test of time.”

Crowds also gathered at well-known sites across the UK, including London’s Parliament and Trafalgar Squares, and Manchester’s Albert Square.

The square in Manchester has become a focal point over the last couple of days, with people laying flowers in the centre and coming together for vigils.

Hundreds of people gathered outside Greater Manchester Police headquarters for the minute of silence, with crowds pouring out of nearby buildings to join the officers.

Other police forces across the country joined in the act of remembrance, with a show of solidarity also taking place at Scotland Yard.

Court proceedings were paused at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

Judges, jurors, lawyers and defendants in the dock all stood in silence as a mark respect.