Croydon just united for Reker Ahmed. But Katie Hopkins stuck the boot in anyway [VIDEO]

The centre of Croydon was brought to a near-standstill on Saturday 8 March, as the community came together to show unity after the attack on teenager Reker Ahmed. But not everyone was behind the action, with controversial Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins dismissing the turnout.

A shocking attack

Ahmed, a 17-year-old Kurdish-Iranian asylum seeker, was waiting at a bus stop with two friends outside The Goat Pub on  Shrublands Avenue, Croydon on Friday 31 March. He was attacked by a group of up to 30 people. Ahmed was left with a fractured skull and spine and a blood clot on the brain after he was repeatedly kicked and punched. 13 people have been charged with offences including attempted murder and violent disorder.

The community in Croydon was left shaken and disturbed by the unprovoked attack on Ahmed. But on Saturday, various campaign groups organised a ‘Unity’ protest in the town centre, to show that “racist attacks won’t go unopposed”. And that the community, and society more broadly, will not be divided.

A community united

Groups present included both the Green and Labour Parties; Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC); Stand Up To RacismMovement for Justice; the Croydon National Union of Teachers; the town’s Trades Council, Amnesty International and Croydon Assembly. There were several hundred people gathered on Croydon’s main High Street:

Croydon Refugee Demo Three

Paula Peters from DPAC gave a message of both hope, but also a call to fight the Conservative government:

Read on...

But not everyone was as welcoming in Croydon. Several passers-by shouted abuse at the protesters. And the police attempted to stop the march from going onto the road. And Hopkins, known for her controversial views on asylum seekers and refugees, tweeted:

This did not, however, deter people. The march passed off without major incident. One striking moment was when the protesters were shouting “Say it loud, say it clear! Refugees are welcome here!”, in the shadow of Winston Churchill, who many believe to have been racist:

Croydon Refugee Demo Four

Shasha Khan and Elaine Garrod of the Croydon Green Party told The Canary:

We think the vast majority of people in Croydon are shocked and saddened by what’s happened. The thought that up to 30 people set upon one guy is horrific.

There’s been a definite rise in hate crime after the Brexit vote. We’re now a divided nation. It’s become more acceptable to have racist and xenophobic attitudes. But with more right wing governments, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, people are less scared to just say what they think, and just come out with racist views.

Children also came out to show their support for Ahmed:

Child Stop Racist Attacks Demo

Defending refugees

The protest came after anti-racist graffiti appeared across the town:

As The Canary previously reported, a group calling itself “Angry Croydonians” claimed responsibility for the graffiti. A press release seen by The Canary stated:

In response to this racist and xenophobic violence, we chose to decorate the neighbourhood with our outrage. In offering a message of solidarity here, we of solidarity here, we demonstrate our solidarity everywhere; from the US to Greece, from Belarus to the Middle East; for all victims of the State, of the border regime and for all victims of hate crime.

¡No Pasarán?

The public show of support for Ahmed is encouraging. But it still does not detract from the severity of what happened to that young man on 31 March. When we are living in a society where a group of young people feel, for whatever reason, that beating a person senseless is acceptable, then Britain may well be truly broken.

Get Involved!

– Support the Just Giving campaigns raising money for Ahmed.

– Support grassroots action against fascism.

Featured image via Paula Peters/screengrab and additional images via The Canary/Nicola Jeffery/Paula Peters

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed