Content warning: This article contains mention of rape and sexual assault
The far-right is once again targeting refugees in a hotel in Cornwall. However, this time the police and the media are to blame, for helping to spread misinformation. Meanwhile, anti-fascists are once again taking a stand as the far right plans to descend on Newquay in another racist onslaught.
Racists will target the Beresford Hotel in Newquay for the second time in just over a month. The Home Office is housing refugees there. The far-right action comes after police arrested and charged a man with rape – and media outlets like CornwallLive reported on it. As its website noted:
A man has been charged in connection with the rape of a woman in Newquay on Sunday, March 12.
Ghenadie Babii, 38, of Narrowcliff, Newquay, has been charged with rape and appeared at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court today (Friday, March 17) where he was remanded in custody. The case was sent to the crown court at a later date.
However, this is not the full story.
The far-right: mobilising again in Cornwall
Cops released a statement, which they’ve since deleted, giving Babii’s address as “Narrowcliff”. This is the same road the Beresford Hotel is on. Local media then published the statement in articles. Far-right groups, as well as other individuals, immediately latched onto the fact the suspect was from Narrowcliff – and assumed he was staying at the Beresford Hotel. They then organised a second protest – scheduled for Sunday 26 March at 10:30am – based on this racist assumption.
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Of course, it’s now come to light that Babii was not staying at the Beresford Hotel – nor is he a refugee. CornwallLive reported on Monday 20 March that:
Moldovan national Ghenadie Babii, 38, of Narrowcliff, Newquay, was charged with rape and appeared at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court on Friday (March 17) where he was remanded in custody…
CornwallLive has confirmed that his address is not the hotel but another property in the area. Babii was in this country legally on a short-term visa.
Yet as of 9am on Tuesday 21 March, the far-right demo was still happening. However, the protest brief had changed to remove reference to the fascists’ assumption about Babii. Still, though, the cops are partly to blame for this demo even happening. Grassroots coalition Cornwall Resists told the Canary:
Devon and Cornwall police are responsible for massively stoking community tensions in Newquay. The rapist was not in the hotel or even a refugee. How could the police screw up this badly? They should have known this would inflame community tensions. Publishing the address “Narrowcliff” when they know the hotel has been subject to a concerted far-right racist smear campaign is disgusting and staggeringly incompetent.
So, Cornwall Resists have organised a counter-protest on 26 March, meeting at 9:30am. However, larger questions still need to be asked of the police’s conduct, as the incident encapsulates cops’ institutional racism and misogyny.
Cops and media: stoking far-right racism
Cornwall Resists told the Canary:
Our thoughts are with the survivor of this attack who now, thanks to the police, has to face the devastating trauma of her assault being publicised, lied about and politicised by the far-right.
Our thoughts are with the refugees in the hotel, who are once again facing hate because of the lies of fascists and the racist ignorance of a police force who don’t give a shit about their welfare.
Like other forces across the UK, Devon and Cornwall police is institutionally racist and misogynistic. Black people in Cornwall are 14 times more likely to be stopped by the cops. The force showed its contempt for Black people when a sergeant who shared a vile meme of George Floyd’s death, kept his job. Just weeks ago, another cop from the force was charged with rape and sexual assault. In February, a report found that the police were often failing “to record reports of violent crime including harassment, stalking, controlling and coercive behaviour and domestic abuse”. It further found that it “does not always accurately record” reported incidents of rape, and the recording of crimes against children were also a concern.
Moreover, local news outlets should not have just published the cops’ statement without questioning the address. Cornwall Resists told the Canary:
We would also like to know why the press release was taken word-for word with no questions or editing. Only the police are given the privilege of having their statements covered word-by-word. Our own statements aren’t treated like this, nor would we expect them to be. However, any local journalist or editor should have been aware of the current tensions around Narrowcliff and taken the decision to edit this information out of the press release.”
Misogyny and racism
Furthermore, there’s also the survivor of Babii’s alleged rape in all of this. CornwallLive reported that the cops are appealing for witnesses:
Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Chris Donald. said earlier today: “Our enquiries remain ongoing in relation to this case and we are really keen to identify and speak to a person who may have seen or heard something which may assist our enquiries.
Through CCTV enquiries we believe a person was fishing on the beach in the early hours of Sunday and I would ask them to get in touch with us. I’d also ask that anyone else who was in the area and may have relevant information, to please get in touch.
Anyone with information which may assist this appeal or the wider investigation is asked to contact police on 101 quoting log 158 12/3/23.
As Cornwall Resists summed up:
While our focus is now on opposing the racists who’ll continue using this smear to push their vile agenda, it’s important that we remember that it is the police who’ve enabled this situation and who will to be blame if anything happens in Newquay on Sunday.
So, once again, the far right will be descending on Newquay to hurl racism and intimidation at refugees. However, the wider context here is that the cops should have known this would be the result when they published Babii’s address. Yet they chose to do it anyway. This shows the cops’ complete lack of concern for refugees after the first far-right protest. The police’s actions also show their lack of concern for the survivor of Babii’s alleged rape. However, they also sum up the police’s mentality more broadly: anyone who isn’t white or one of them gets second-class, thoughtless treatment – especially women and Black and brown people.
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