Calendar of Racism and Resistance (1 – 13 January 2021)

Calendar of Racism and Resistance (1 – 13 January 2021)


Written by: IRR News Team

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.


For more information on policing and civil liberties issues follow @NETPOL @BigBrotherWatch @COVIDStateWatch and @libertyhq.

3 January: The use of force against prisoners has doubled over the past decade, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, with force being used over 49,000 times, or 59 times for every 100 inmates, in the year from April 2019. (Observer, 3 January 2021) 

3 January:  International organisations criticise Police Scotland for renewing a contract to train security forces in Sri Lanka linked to violence and torture against civilians. (Sunday Post, 3 January 2021) 

5 January: The family of 12-year-old Shukri Abdi, who drowned in the River Irwell in 2019, launch a civil action against Greater Manchester police for institutional racism in the investigation of her death. (Guardian, 5 January 2021)

8 January: Three officers from Hampshire’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit are sacked for gross misconduct in a long-running case relating to a racist and sexist WhatsApp group. Two other officers would have been sacked if they had not already left the force, and a sixth received a final written warning. (BBC News, 8 January 2020)

8 January: Met police officers will be required to justify every pre-arrest use of handcuffs following a review triggered by the stop and search and handcuffing of Olympic athlete Bianca Williams in July 2020. (Guardian, 8 January 2021)

8 January: In France, police are filmed conducting checks on people entering the Auchan supermarket in Dunkerque and refusing entry to migrants. Activists intervene to stop the checks, but the police call in additional units and remain in place at the supermarket entrance. (Are You Syrious, 11 January 2021)

9 January: In Belgium, 23-year-old Ibrahima Barrie dies in hospital following his arrest at Brussels Gare du Nord, where it is claimed he was filming police carrying out controls. At the police station where he was taken for questioning, he loses consciousness. An autopsy and toxicology examination are ordered. (Brussels Times, 11 January; Révolution Permanente, 13 January 2021)

Protests following death of 23-year-old Ibrahima Barrie in hospital after his arrest at Brussels Gare du Nord
Protesters in Brussels following the death of Ibrahima Barrie. Credit: Luk Vervaet.

11 January: In France, the interior minister suspends a senior police officer for sending a ‘blatantly racist’ New Year card, which shows a white police officer calling a black man to his car with the caption ‘Come closer. My taser is recharging in the cigarette lighter’. (The Local, 11 January 2021) 

12 January: The number of prisoners in England and Wales dying of Covid-19 rose to 24 in December, a rise of over 50 percent, while 2,400 prisoners tested positive, 70 percent more than in November, according to Ministry of Justice statistics. (Guardian, 12 January 2021)

12 January: South Wales Police refers itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct following the death two days earlier of 24-year-old Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, hours after his release from custody in Cardiff, described as ‘deeply concerning’ by the Welsh first minister. Hundreds of protesters march through the city to Cardiff Bay Police Station. (Guardian, 12 January 2021)

Hundreds of BLM protesters gathered outside Cardiff Bay Police Station after the death of Mohamud Hassan.
Protesters outside Cardiff Bay Police Station following the death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan. Credit: Joshua L Tucker (@tuckerwales). Source: Twitter.


Asylum and migrant rights

1 January: In Italy, tributes pour in after the murder of Ethiopian refugee farmer Agitu Ideo Gudeta, who is attacked, raped and killed, allegedly by a former employee, on her farm in Trentino. (Guardian, 1 January 2021)

7 January: The pandemic combined with hardline policies at EU borders, has led to a 30 percent drop in the number of people applying for asylum in the EU, according to an analysis of Eurostat data. (The New Humanitarian, 7 January 2021) 

10 January: The British government refused an EU proposal for a reciprocal touring arrangement which would have allowed musicians 90 days’ visa-free travel, according to the Independent. The government denies the allegation, as a petition gathers over 200,000 signatures. (Independent, 10 January; Guardian, 11 January 2021) 

11 January: Conservative former Home Office minister Caroline Nokes condemns the department’s ‘inhuman’ approach to immigration as ‘profoundly depressing and hideously wrong’, and the ‘brutal’ response to asylum risks ‘whipping up an unpleasant reaction to some very vulnerable people’. (Independent, 11 January 2021)

Borders and internal controls

7 January: As the Home Office is accused of making the Channel crossing ‘unviable’ for migrants, around 8,400 of whom made the dangerous crossing in small boats and kayaks in 2020, a government order comes into force giving the Home Office power to register its own ships, whose captains have powers of arrest. (Sky News, 4 January; Merchant Shipping Order, 16 December 2020)

8 January: In Italy, 100 people gather outside the Croatian consulate in the northern city of Trieste to demonstrate against pushbacks and ‘publicly denounce the bloody European policies regarding the protection of borders.’  (Ansa FruiliV.G., 8 January; Are You Syrious, 11 January 2021)

9 January: The EU’s anti-fraud office opens an investigation into the EU border agency Frontex, after allegedly raiding the office of its chief Fabrice Leggeri in December. (EU Observer, 9 January 2021)

9 January: Italy’s former interior minister, far-right League leader Matteo Salvini, appears before a Palermo court in connection with allegations of abduction and misconduct in public office for an incident in 2019 when he blocked search-and-rescue vessel Open Arms from landing with 100 rescued migrants. (Guardian, 9 January 2021)

8 January: The Hungarian Helsinki Committee reports that Hungary has carried out almost 2,500 pushbacks to Serbia since the EU Court of Justice ruled the practice illegal in December. (EU Observer, 11 January 2021)

Reception and detention

1 January: The Bosnian government faces protests and international condemnation for leaving migrants abandoned for over a week in freezing weather at the burned-out camp at Lipa, near the Croatian border, and then erecting tents for them instead of using a fully-equipped centre in Bihac, because of local residents’ opposition. (Euronews, 1 January 2021)

Image of the breaking out in the Lipa camp. Large plumes of smoke in the background and people carrying bags with their belonging in the foreground.
The burnt-out camp in Lipa. Credit: No Name Kitchen. Source: Twitter

5 January: In France, as evictions continue of hundreds of migrants from makeshift camps in and around Calais, a Lille court refuses an application from two journalists for an order requiring the prefecture to allow them access to eviction sites. (Le Monde, 5 January 2021)

6 January: The Scottish Refugee Council launches a new interactive map to help people seeking asylum find local support services in Scotland. (Scottish Refugee Council, 6 January 2021) 

8 January: In Greece, a five-year-old Afghan child dies at the Malakasa camp in Eastern Attica after being hit by a construction site vehicle. (Efsyn, 8 January 2021)

9 January: Asylum seekers’ complaints about food and conditions at Penally military camp, Wales, continue to be ignored, and when contacted by The Independent about a new incident this week, a Home Office spokesperson denies that any complaints have been made. (Independent, 9 January 2021) 

11 January: The Home Office minister for safeguarding, Victoria Atkins, opposes a private member’s bill offering trafficking victims safe housing, support and protection from detention and deportation. She says ‘the government does not have an absolute exclusion from detention for any particular group’. (Guardian, 11 January 2021)

11 January: About 350 of the 400 asylum seekers housed at Napier barracks, near Folkestone, go on hunger strike protesting cramped, stressful and dangerous conditions and lack of information on their asylum claims. (Guardian, 12 January 2021)

Criminalising solidarity

5 January: SAR NGO Sea Eye files a legal claim against the Italian government to end the 3-month detention of its vessel the Alan Kurdi in Sardinia. The Italian coastguard justifies the detention by claims there are too few toilets and too many life jackets on the vessel. (Sea Eye, 5 January 2021) 


2 January: Home secretary Priti Patel is said to be considering halving the threshold for automatic deportation as a foreign national offender to six months, as part of plans to toughen the deportation and asylum regime, and says deportations to Jamaica will become a ‘regular drumbeat’. (Times £, 2 January; Left Foot Forward, 4 January 2021)

3 January: Campaigning group Families for Justice accuses the Home Office of refusing to consider the effect on black British families of being separated by deportation, despite evidence of significant harm to children. The twin brothers of one member are to be deported to different countries. (Observer, 3 January 2021)

6 January: In France, a baker goes on hunger strike in protest at the planned deportation of his Guinean apprentice as he turns 18, over a year after the young man arrived in France as an unaccompanied minor. (France 24, 6 January 2021)


5 January: A proposed temporary art installation in Budapest, Hungary, dedicated to Black Lives Matter is slammed by the prime minister’s chief of staff, who declares that the BLM is ‘a racist movement’. A government billboard campaign, ostensibly about Covid-19, has also been launched, with the slogan ‘All lives matter’. (Guardian, 5 January 2021)

10 January: Labour leader Keir Starmer abandons the commitment to free movement of people in the EU that he made during the party’s leadership contest, saying it was not realistic to pretend the EU would want to negotiate a new Brexit treaty with the UK. (Guardian, 10 January 2021)

11 January: The Labour leadership refuses to back an amendment from its former shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti to the ‘Spycops’ Bill,  which would remove the blanket immunity given by the Bill to undercover police and informants committing crimes, potentially causing another split within the party. (Guardian, 11 January 2021)


4 January: NN Journal reports an increase in far-right extremism in Northamptonshire from groups like the Northants English Welfare Society and the White Pendragons. (NN Journal, 4 January 2021)

5 January: The family of George Nkencho, who died in police custody in Dublin, Ireland, instruct lawyers to take action against ‘vindictive assertions’ made online by racists and fascists who claim that he had 30 criminal convictions when he had none. Police claim both the far Right and far Left are exploiting racial tensions. (, 3 January 2020; Sunday World, 3 January 2021)

11 January: In the face of the pro-Trump violence in the US, a number of social media platforms crack down on content that could incite violence, with Amazon withdrawing support for the right-wing app Parler and Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast channel banned from Facebook. (Independent, 11 January; NY Post, 8 January 2021)


11 January: The Northern Ireland Equality Coalition formally complains to the Northern Ireland Office about six recent state-centric appointments to the NI human rights commission which fail to meet the diversity requirements of the UN Paris principles, necessary to achieve international accredited human rights status. (Guardian, 11 January 2021)


1 January: As concerns mount about the fate of at least half the planet who could be left without Covid-19 vaccinations for three years, UN humanitarian organisations urge world leaders to make vaccines available to millions of refugees and others displaced by war across the world, particularly in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. (Guardian, 1 January 2021)

5 January: Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies finds the pandemic has led to greater inequality, with people from BME backgrounds amongst the hardest hit and mortality rates in the most deprived communities twice as high as the least deprived. (Guardian, 5 January 2021)

6 January: The mental health of men from ethnic minority backgrounds has been hit over twice as hard by the pandemic as that of white men, according to a study published in the journal Plos One. (Guardian, 6 January 2021)


4 January: The only black composer on the A-level music syllabus, jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine, is dropped as part of Covid-related course changes according to syllabus provider Pearson Edexcel. (Guardian, 4 January 2021)

6 January: A Guardian investigation reveals that thousands of vulnerable children are sent to unregulated care homes, many outside their local area, putting them at risk of abuse and exploitation. (Guardian, 6 January 2021)

7 January: A letter to the Guardian by eminent lawyers and former judges accuses the education secretary of ‘improper interference’ with the autonomy of academic institutions for his instruction that they adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism or face sanctions. (Guardian, 7 January 2021)

11 January: Local council data reveal that many schoolchildren in Wakefield, including primary pupils, were excluded for racist abuse between September 2019 and July 2020. No child was permanently excluded. (Wakefield Express, 11 January 2021)

12 January: Police inquiries into the death in December 2018 of black student Sanda Dia uncover racism and elitism at an elite student fraternity at Leuven University, Belgium. Dia died of multiple organ failure as a result of a brutal initiation into the fraternity. (Al Jazeera, 12 January 2021)


3 January: Bournemouth football club condemns racist abuse sent on Twitter to player Junior Stanislas, following the club’s game with Stoke. (Guardian, 3 January 2021)

4 January: The Uruguayan players’ union releases a statement condemning the English Football Association for committing a ‘discriminatory act against the culture and way of life of the Uruguayan people’ by its three-match ban to Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani for using the word ‘negrito’ on Instagram without racist intent. (Guardian, 4 January 2021)

5 January: Artist Yinka Shonibare announces that he is creating a sculpture in memory of David Oluwale, a Nigerian man who drowned in the River Aire in 1969 after continual harassment from Leeds police officers. (Guardian, 5 January 2021)

10 January: Dundee United condemns ‘vile racist messages’ sent to on-loan Celtic forward Jonathan Afolab via Instagram after he scored in the 3-2 extra-time Scottish Cup win over Bonnyrigg Rose on 9 January. (Guardian, 10 January 2021)

11 January: Black Lives Matter UK announce that they are to start funding black-led organisations from £1.2m donations. (Guardian, 11 January 2021)

11 January: The first-ever dedicated football hate crime officer, West Midlands PC Stuart Ward, is appointed, tasked with tackling racism in UK football, as Kick it Out reveals 287 reported racist incidents last season in England and Wales. (The Voice, 11 January 2021)

11 January: BBC Radio Scotland says it will be ‘looking at its vetting procedures after a prank caller was allowed to use a deeply offensive and racist term live on air. (Glasgow Times, 11 January 2021)


1 January: Following his club’s defeat, Dragons rugby winger Ashton Hewitt is racially abused on Twitter. Gwent police investigate. (Sky Sports, 3 January 2021)

2 January: 31-year-old AFC Bournemouth player Junior Stanislas is subjected to racially aggravated malicious messages on social media. (Daily Echo, 9 January 2021)

4 January: A 15-year-old boy is found guilty of racially attacking a Singaporean student who was told ‘I don’t want your coronavirus in our country’ on Oxford Street, London in February 2020. (BBC News, 4 January 2021)

4 January: A 39-year-old Brentford supporter is fined and banned for life from the club’s matches after pleading guilty to racially abusing a rival fan in September 2020. (Independent, 4 January 2021)

5 January: A threatening email from a well-known far-right figure is sent to Hungarian artist Péter Szalay, promising he will be ‘punished’ if his art installation dedicated to BLM goes ahead. (Guardian, 5 January 2021)

6 January: A 35-year-old man is sentenced to 14 weeks in prison and ordered to pay compensation to his victim after he racially abused and attempted to assault a store assistant in Bootle, Merseyside on New Year’s Eve. (Merseyside Police, 6 January 2021) 

6 January: A 54-year-old man receives a suspended prison sentence after he admits to subjecting the staff of a take-away restaurant in Lowestoft, Suffolk to racially aggravated harassment in June 2020. Employees from the restaurant say they face racism ‘almost daily’ and that the convicted man had been racially abusing them for years. (Eastern Daily Press, 9 January 2021)

7 January: Former regional chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal reveals that since joining a legal campaign for the prosecution of Dominic Cummings over lockdown breaches, he was forced to move after his family home was targeted, windows were broken and car tyres were slashed, causing his family to be afraid. (Guardian, 7 January 2021) 

7 January: A 69-year-old man is charged with a racially aggravated public order offence following a police investigation into a racist remark he made towards a player at a football match in Rushden, Northamptonshire in September 2020. (Northamptonshire Telegraph, 7 January 2021)

7 January: A 61-year-old man is fined and ordered to pay compensation to his victim after pleading guilty to hurling racial abuse and behaving in a threatening manner towards his neighbour in Falkirk, Stirlingshire in November 2020. (Falkirk Herald, 11 January 2021)

7 January: Police investigate after Penzance mayor Nicole Broadhurst receives thousands of racist and abusive messages and her family home is targeted, over the removal of unauthorised union flags which appeared on the seafront over the new year. (Guardian, 8 January 2021)

8 January: A 31-year-old man is imprisoned and ordered to pay compensation to his victims after being convicted of racially abusing and threatening two Sunderland takeaway workers in November 2020. (Sunderland Echo, 8 January 2021)

9 January: A 38-year-old woman from Glasgow, who converted to Islam 12 years ago and began wearing the hijab in 2016, says she has stopped wearing her hijab due to everyday experiences of Islamophobia and her fears that her daughters would be affected. (Daily Record, 9 January 2021)

The calendar was compiled with the help of Tania Bedi, Graeme Atkinson, Kaiisha Kukendra, Neal Tank and Joseph Maggs.

Headline image: Protesters outside Cardiff Bay Police Station following the death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan. Credit: Joshua L Tucker (@tuckerwales). Source: Twitter.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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