There has been a shocking rise in hate crime since the UK voted to leave the EU last week, with reported hate incidents up by 57%. One incident this week gives a painful insight into the climate of fear facing those defined as no longer ‘welcome.’
As previously reported in The Canary, there is a heartbreaking album being collated on Facebook entitled “Worrying Signs”. However, a video released by Channel 4 News of racial abuse on a tram in Manchester really hits home the hell that has been unleashed by the referendum debate.
“Get deported. You’re a muppet. Get off the tram now” shouts a young man at a fellow tram passenger.
Given the situation, the man being abused responds very calmly, asking “How old are you?” The response:
Get off the tram now. Bro, I’ll waste you, I’ll waste anyone. Don’t chat sh*t when you’re not even from England, you little f*cking immigrant.
The situation continues to escalate with more of the same and similar language until one of the abusers throws beer towards his victim. A woman screams and someone is heard shouting:
There’s a baby there. There’s no need for that. There’s absolutely no need for that.
However, the strength of feeling against them forces the abusers off the bus, and people shout after them that they are “disgusting”.
The woman who filmed the incident told Channel 4 that she was “scared” while filming the incident. The tension is palpable in the film, with the verbal abuse seeming about to tip into physical violence any second. It is a sad reflection of a country which feels like it’s on a knife-edge.
Greater Manchester police have appealed for witnesses to come forward, and stated:
This is a disgusting display of abuse which quite frankly has no place in society.
Three suspects have since been arrested over the incident.
Unfortunately, the Leave victory and a string of tabloid incitement seem to have the racists feeling emboldened.
Furthermore, the attacks seem to be escalating. A butcher in Walsall was injured when a petrol bomb was thrown into his shop. Although his injuries were only minor, if these kind of actions continue, it can surely only be a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.
This is why it is critical that all of us who stand against racism – however we voted in the Referendum – refuse to let the far right dominate who and what we are. The majority of people in this country are not racist, and it’s important we get out into our communities and neighbourhoods to show the racists do not speak for us.
People are already rising to this challenge.
In London, Mrs Joanna Mludzinska from the Polish Social and Cultural Association, which was attacked with racist graffiti earlier in the week, has spoken of “overwhelming support”. Mrs Mludzinska, who said the centre had received over 200 supportive cards, further stated:
Just this morning we had the children and parents of a local school around the corner on our steps who had come to show their support, bringing with them cards the children had drawn. It’s been incredible.
Meanwhile, children from eight schools in Bristol have been sharing “random acts of kindness”, giving flowers to people, and putting bookmarks with kind messages inside library books.
And maybe it’s these acts of kindness we all need to learn from. It is time time beyond words. The most powerful antidote to the hatred we’ve seen on the streets, is the simple act of going out and doing something welcoming, something encouraging, something which spreads diversity and acceptance. For every person who commits acts of racism, we need ten committing acts at the opposite end of the moral spectrum.
In addition to these acts of kindness, there is also a need to challenge racism head on wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head. Yes, the racism existed long before the referendum. There might have been an increase in hate crime if Remain had won – it has been bubbling away waiting to erupt for some time now. But these maybes and what ifs have no bearing on the realities facing the targets of racist wrath on our streets right now. Both the dog whistle campaign, and the victory, has emboldened the far right, and given them a newfound sense of place and purpose.
We must do everything within our power to stand together as communities, and find a way forward that can turn this tainted page in our history right again.
Join the Anti-Fascist Network. Find a local group, get out there, and get involved.
Find a local group to join the fight against austerity.
Support welcoming refugees to the UK.
Find events such as this “March for Next Generation”to rally against the far right and bring people together.
Featured image via screengrab.