Thousands of people gathered at Trafalgar Square in London, to pay tribute to Jo Cox MP’s life and legacy on what would have been her 42nd birthday.
Brendan Cox, husband of Jo Cox, and their children rode on the boat towing a memorial dedicated to the Labour MP down the River Thames. The boat, covered in roses and bearing the name “Yorkshire Rose”, was pulled along by a barge.
Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death in her Yorkshire constituency on Thursday 16th June, by a man who later gave his name in court as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”
Jo Cox’s killing shocked Britain and triggered a three-day pause in campaigning for a referendum on the country’s EU membership.
The event at Trafalgar Square was broadcast live by video to several cities around the world, including Sydney, Paris and New York, where about 100 people gathered near the United Nations headquarters.
Many in the crowd held up placards in support of Jo Cox and wept during a minute’s silence and as videos were shown on a large screen from Jo Cox’s life.
Many of those attending the memorial said they had never met Jo Cox but felt moved to come and express solidarity with her family.
In an emotional speech Brendan Cox said “Your support and your love has helped us all. Today would have been Jo’s 42nd birthday and she would have spent it dashing around the streets of her hometown trying to convince people that Britain is stronger in Europe.”
He said the Labour MP would have been “amazed, baffled and humbled” at the global reaction to her death and the “outpouring of love from around the world”.
A minute’s silence was held during the hour-long celebration of her life, which was also attended by her three-year-old daughter Lejla and son Cuillin, five.
Malala Yousafzai, the education campaigner who was shot in the head by the Taliban for her activism, was among the guest speakers at the rally. During her speech she referred to Jo Cox as her “sister,” and said the response to the lawmaker’s death mirrored the sympathy she received after being shot while campaigning for girls’ right to education in Pakistan…..”Once again the extremists have failed,” she said.
Leaders of the major Faiths also laid 42 white roses, the symbol of Yorkshire, to mark her birthday at the event. These included:
- Umesh C Sharma, Co-Chair, Hindu Council UK.
- Bishop at Lambeth, Nigel Stock, representing the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England.
- Rabbi Liss, CEO Rabbinical Council, representing the Chief Rabbi.
- Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain.
- Andrew Copson, Chair of Humanist Society.
The band that played at the couple’s wedding, Diddley Dee, also performed and a group of the MP’s friends will form an honour guard dressed in suffragette-style sashes.
In addition to the memorial service at Trafalgar Square, events were held in a variety of locations in tribute to Ms Cox’s “love, energy, passion, flair, Yorkshire heritage and belief in the humanity of every person in every place”.
International events were also taking place in Beirut, Brussels, Melbourne, Nairobi, New York and Washington DC.
It came after a fundraising page in Mrs Cox’s memory raised more than £1 million for three of her favourite charities in just three days.
Assistant Secretary General and Women Empowerment lead
Hindu Council UK