According to Farage, it was not “very wise” of Juncker to make reference to the acts of violence, which many immigrants (and those perceived to be immigrants, both from Europe and outside of Europe) claim have got markedly worse since the Brexit vote in June.
Speaking to the BBC’s World At One, Farage said:
He could have referred to many dreadful things being done all over Europe, not to mention 14 recognised terrorist attacks in the space of this year. I don’t actually think that it’s ever very wise to pick any one incident against an individual and use it for political ends.
This was a direct response to Juncker’s address, in which he said:
We Europeans can never accept Polish workers being beaten up, harassed or even murdered in the streets of Essex.
Farage is not necessarily wrong to point out that xenophobic and racist violence is far from exclusive to Britain (though it is also unlikely that this is what he meant). But Juncker is right to point out the worrying trend in violence against Polish people in Britain, and brushing off his statement certainly won’t help.
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Caught on camera
On 13 September, footage from a Channel 4 interview was shared on social media, which showed a Polish woman in Leeds discussing the bigotry she and other Polish people in her neighbourhood have been facing.
On camera, men in a passing car can be heard shouting “f**king Polish grass” at her:
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) September 14, 2016
The woman describes the way that, since Brexit, harassment towards her has markedly increased. This includes having a Polish man chased into her front garden and badly beaten.
It is unclear if this incident is the same one that occurred in Leeds on 9 September, when a 28-year-old Polish man and his friend were kicked and punched by a gang of up to 20 teenagers. Four boys have been arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated grievous body harm and violent disorder so far.
If it was the same assault, then that is bad enough. But if it was a separate attack, then it is yet another vicious attack to add to the ever-growing list.
The problem in Essex
Juncker referenced Essex in particular due to a spate of violent attacks against Polish people in the town of Harlow. One such attack on 27 August, against Arek Jóźwik and his unnamed Polish friend, left Jóźwik dead.
As in the case of the Leeds attack, Jóźwik and his friend were set upon by a group of teenagers. There have been six arrests thus far. But the problem in Harlow is so bad that there have been separate attacks on three other Polish men recently. Two police officers from Poland have been sent over to patrol the streets of the town.
Unfortunately, as the Channel 4 interview demonstrated, xenophobic abuse and racism is such that it isn’t even attempting to hide anymore. It doesn’t stop for TV cameras. Men and women are being openly and violently attacked.
It’s time Farage started addressing that, and for him and other ‘Leave’ campaigners to acknowledge the correlation between Brexit and increased violence – before even more innocent people suffer.
– Support the Migrants’ Rights Network to ensure migrants are represented in Britain.
– Write to your MP to encourage them to raise the issue of post-Brexit xenophobia in parliament.
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