This year marks the 25th anniversary of the horrific murder and attack on Terry Sweet and Bernard Hawken in Central Park. On 6 November 1995, 3 teenage boys attacked Terry and Bernard – two men who had met up in Central Park – in a homophobic attack. Terry, aged 64, died in the attack, whilst 54-year-old Bernard suffered life-changing injuries and remained wheelchair bound until his death a few years later.
This vile attack had a profound effect on Plymouth. After the incident, homophobic abuse was graffitied on the shelter where the attack had taken place, highlighting the horrific homophobic views held by some in the city. Many gay men were left incredibly fearful and felt that Plymouth was not a city where they could safely belong. However, despite this fear, the attack also encouraged many in the gay community to stand up more vocally to homophobia and be counted. It also led to fundamental changes within the police force in terms of diversity and inclusion, making the force more aware of how it needed to connect with groups of society often overlooked. This recognition from the police marked a fundamental change in its relationship with the gay community.
Pride in Plymouth have launched a Crowdfunder to raise money for a memorial in Central Park for Terry and Bernard. They’re also hoping to launch an educational programme to teach people about combating hate crime.
Speaking about the Crowdfunder, Luke said:
“As a gay man, I know how important it is to mark and recognise important moments in history such as this attack. We should not only mark and remember Terry and Bernard and their lives, but we should also never forget the effect the attack had on Plymouth.
Memorials like this one serve to remind us not only of where we’ve come from, but also of the work we still need to do to combat homophobia. Educational programmes about hate crime are vital in helping to ensure that violent, prejudiced attacks never happen again. They also serve to teach people that homophobia in all its forms – in person or behind a screen – is completely unacceptable.
The horrific attack against Terry and Bernard must not be forgotten. We owe it to them, to Plymouth, and to anyone in the UK who still has to face homophobic abuse today.”
If you have some spare cash and would like to donate to this important memorial, please follow this link: crowdfunder.co.uk/centralparkmemorial.