Calendar of racism and resistance (16 – 30 October 2019)

Calendar of racism and resistance (16 – 30 October 2019)


Written by: IRR News Team

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


Asylum and migrant rights

19 October: Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Rupert Read is criticised in the Guardian for claiming that the ‘net environmental footprint’ is increased by migration and tighter migration controls are central to the fight against climate warming. (Guardian, 19 October 2019)

23 October: A 31-year-old Syrian-Kurdish man sets himself alight outside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Geneva. It is not yet known if he was a resident of the nearby asylum centre but it is believed his motivation was political. The fire is extinguished and the man is taken to hospital. (Deutsche Welle, 23 October 2019)

Borders and internal controls

17 October: The Spanish government celebrates a 50 per cent decrease in the number of undocumented migrants reaching the country, largely due to an €180 million agreement with Morocco to prevent departures from its shores. (El Pais, 17 October 2019)

20 October: 13 people, from Iran, Egypt and Iraq, are rescued from an inflatable boat in the English Channel. (Kent Online, 20 October 2019)

21 October: Another police officer comes forward in Croatia claiming that police are committing illegal pushbacks of displaced people, found well across the border in Croatia, to Bosnia and then falsifying the paperwork to make it appear that they merely ‘deterred the displaced people from crossing the border’. (AYS, 21 October 2019)

Vigil outside the the Home Office @Daikon*

23 October:  The bodies of 39 people, first believed to be Chinese and later Vietnamese nationals, are found in a refrigerated lorry on an industrial estate in Essex. The lorry is found to be registered in Bulgaria and travelling from Belgium. (Guardian, 23 October 2019)

24 October: Vigils are held in Belfast, Brighton, and outside the Home Office for the 39 people whose bodies were discovered the previous day. A spokesperson for the Chinese Welfare Association, which co-organised the Belfast vigil, says they hope the tragedy will bring about a change in attitudes to immigration. Former judge Catriona Jarvis, co-convenor of the Last Rights project, calls for the bereaved families to be allowed entry to the UK to participate in investigations and inquests into the deaths of their loved ones, and for safe passage and humanitarian visas to prevent such tragedies. (Guardian, 25 October 2019; Belfast News, 25 October 2019; Sky News, 25 October 2019)

28 October:  The Ocean Viking is again left stranded at sea after Malta and Italy refuse to respond to its request to dock. Aboard are over 100 people rescued 11 days ago, including two pregnant woman and 41 minors. (Al Jazeera, 28 October 2019)

28 October: Eight people, believed to be from Afghanistan, are found in the back of a refrigerated lorry in France en route to Britain. All are taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia. (The Local, 28 October 2019)

29 October: Antwerp federal police, in collaboration with six local police forces and the Immigration Office, arrest 28 people from Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, 11 of whom are believed to be minors, at Antwerp train station, as part of an effort to clamp down on ‘transmigrants’ travelling from Brussels to Antwerp, from where they try to go to the UK. (Brussels Times, 29 October 2019)

29 October: The Hellenic Coast Guard intercept over 100 people sailing from Turkey in three separate incidents as part of the ‘biggest spike in migrant and refugee arrivals’ since 2015. (Ekathimerini, 29 October 2019)

Invasion of north-eastern Syria

18 October: Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto voices support for Turkey’s military operation against the Kurds in north-eastern Syria, saying it would ease the refugee crisis in Europe by creating a ‘safe zone’ to where Syrian refugees can be returned. (Balkan Insight, 18 October 2019)

Reception and detention

16 October: A fire destroys the severely overcrowded refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos, leaving hundreds of people destitute. MSF call for children and vulnerable people to be evacuated from the island. (Ekathemerini, 16 October 2019)

16 October: Armed police evict migrant families from two more squats in the Athens district of Exarchia, taking the total number of mass evictions in the area to eight. (Keep Talking Greece, 16 October 2019)

20 October: Displaced people held in a former British Army barracks in Malta set fire to staff cars in protest of their conditions and demand freedom. (Al Jazeera, 21 October 2019)

23 October: A study by the UNHCR finds that disputes over the age of unaccompanied and separated refugee or asylum seeker children arriving in the UK are having a ‘devastating impact’. Children of disputed ages are liable to be placed in inappropriate accommodation together with adults, posing a risk to their safety, the report says, and are likely to be unfairly denied access to education. (Guardian, 23 October 2019)

23 October: Allegations emerge that in Bosnia, refugees are being pulled from trains to stop them reaching overcrowded camps, where local authorities are cutting the water supplies in a bid to force the government to give assistance. (Al Jazeera, 23 October 2019)

24 October: Detainees at Zintan centre in Libya stage a protest, demanding evacuation from conditions in which 23 have died of starvation and tuberculosis. (AYS, 25 October 2019)


15 October: Italian riot police use tear gas to break up a protest at the immigration detention centre of Pian del Lago in Caltanissetta against the deportation of an inmate to Tunisia. (Hurriya, 16 October 2019)

21 October: The Home Office is forced to pay £25,000 in damages to a victim of modern slavery after the courts ruled that he was unlawfully detained and threatened with deportation, saying the department acted ‘disingenuously’ in rejecting its own finding that he had been a victim of forced labour in order to pursue his deportation. (Independent, 21 October 2019)


20 October: The British government prepares to repatriate British orphaned children of British ISIS fighters who are living in refugee camps in Syria, a shift in policy after the BBC filmed three orphans aged ten and under saying they wanted to return home to the UK. (Guardian, 20 October 2019)

22 October: The hearing begins of Shamima Begum’s appeal against the revocation of her British citizenship and her exclusion from the UK in February 2019, four years after she left her London home to join ISIS aged fifteen. (Guardian, 22 October 2019)

24 October: The Danish Parliament passes a law to strip Danish dual nationals of their Danish citizenship and refuse their entry to the country if they have fought with foreign armed groups. The law is primarily designed to target fighters for ISIS and similar groups. (Al Jazeera, 24 October 2019)


17 October: On the fourth night of protests against the sentencing of the Catalan politicians, after a peaceful demonstration by Catalan separatists and anti-fascists ended, around 300 neo-nazis, armed with wooden staves and knives, go ‘hunting’ for anti-fascists in central Barcelona, unhampered by police, and a young man is attacked and brutally beaten by about a dozen neo-nazis.  (Naciόdigital, 17 October 2019)

20 October: The European Roma Rights Centre say that the racism displayed at the England Bulgaria football fixture is what Roma in Bulgaria suffer every day. The perpetrators are identified as neo-nazi hooligan gang Lauta Army, that follows Lokomotiv Plovdiv and has its own website, boxing classes and a gymnasium. (Observer, 20 October 2019)

21 October: At Leeds Crown Court, Gabriele Longo of Crawley and Morgan Seale of South Shields are found guilty under the Terrorism Act of preparing extreme-right materials for terrorist purposes and collecting or making a record of information useful in the preparation of an act of terrorism. (Counter Terrorism Policing, 21 October 2019)

26 October: Thousands of people gather for a Vox party rally in Madrid’s Columbus Square shouting ‘Viva España’. Vox Leader Santiago Abascal addresses the crowd condemning the separatist movement and claiming that only Vox will fight for a unified Spain. (The Local, 27 October 2019)


15 October: The husband of Liberal Democrat MP Angela Smith, also a member of her staff, issues an apology after accusing Labour shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler of lying about her experiences of racism and ‘trolling’ her after she wrote an article in the Metro newspaper as part of Black History Month. (Yorkshire Post, 15 October 2019)

16 October: Dr Faiza Shaheen, Labour parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Wood Green, accuses her Liberal Democrat rival Geoffrey Seeff of using dirty campaigning tactics and highlighting her religion after he sent her an open letter demanding to know her views on an Islamic charity to which she has no links. (Guardian, 17 October 2019)

23 October: Brexit party candidate Stuart Waiton, a lecturer at Dundee’s Abertay University, says concern about Nazi salutes on football terraces is an ‘overblown moral panic’ and that far from racism being on the rise, people are just more sensitive to it. (Times, 23 October 2019)

26 October: London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart is criticised by Irish rap group Hare Squead, whom he met during a walkabout in Brick Lane, only to describe them later at a public event as ‘minor gangsters’. The shadow minister for women and equalities says ‘associating black men with gangs’ is a form of racial bias. (NME, 26 October 2019)


16 October: 90 leading academics, actors and journalists sign an open letter calling on President Macron to condemn Julien Odoul, Bourgogne Franche-Comté president of the Groupe Rassemblement Nationale (formerly Front National), for ordering a woman to remove her headscarf at a regional council meeting. (AA, 16 October 2019)

19 October: Thousands of people attend a far-right ‘Italy pride’ rally in Rome organised by the League, Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia. The march is criticised for its associations with Mussolini’s ‘march on Rome’ in 1922. (Guardian, 19 October 2019)

21 October: Despite winning 26 per cent of the vote, the anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party (SVP) suffers losses in a general election dominated by environmental issues, losing a total of twelve seats. (Bloomberg, 21 October 2019)

28 October: The far-right electoral coalition of the League, Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia captures 57 per cent of the vote in the central Italian region of Umbria, gaining control of a region which has been governed by the Left for over fifty years. (Independent, 28 October 2019)

28 October: In regional elections in Thuringia, east Germany, the far-right Alternative for Germany surges to second place, overtaking the CDU, and capturing 23.4 percent of the vote (Deutsche Welle, 28 October 2019)


16 October: Detective constable Mark Eve, based at Romford police station, is found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed from the Metropolitan police over breaches including the routine use of racist language in face-to-face conversations and WhatsApp chats. (Sky News, 16 October 2019)

18 October: A Home Office equality impact assessment of loosened stop and search rules warns that more innocent BAME people are likely to be stopped as a result, exacerbating mistrust of police. Read the report here. (Guardian, 18 October 2019)

19 October: Video footage of a young woman in a headscarf calling for help while being harassed by police in Saint-Denis, Paris, surfaces, igniting a debate around police brutality. The police claim that the woman refused their stop, insulted them and defended terrorism – a version of events contradicted by witnesses. (Break News, 19 October 2019)

Home office stats for Police powers and procedures, England and Wales

24 October: Police use of stop and search rises by 32 per cent in England and Wales between March 2018 and March 2019. BAME people are 4 times more likely and black people are 9.7 times more likely to be stopped than white people. (Guardian, 24 October 2019).

26 October: Video footage released by the French newspaper Le Parisien show police officers kicking and beating refugees with truncheons as they evacuated a squat in Bagnolet, Seine-Saint-Denis, Paris in June. (en24, 26 October 2019)

30 October: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons publishes the report of its July inspection of Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution describing an ‘appalling decline’ in its children’s unit, with very high levels of violence and self-harm, little educational provision and children locked in for too long. Read the report here. (HM Inspectorate of Prisons, 30 October 2019)


16 October: More than 170 cleaners and porters at St. Mary’s Hospital, members of the United Voices of the World union, announce plans for 15 days of strike action before the end of December. The predominantly migrant workers, outsourced by the NHS to Sodexo, are demanding employment parity with in-house NHS staff and an end to outsourcing, which they describe as ‘a racist economic model of exploitation’. (Open Democracy, 16 October 2019; Red Pepper, 18 October 2019)

27 October: A Guardian freedom of information request reveals that the spending of 42 universities on outsourcing of workers – often cleaners, security and maintenance staff employed by third parties, often on zero-hour contracts – has more than doubled in seven years, increasing by almost 70 per cent from 2010 to 2017. (Guardian, 27 October 2019)


30 October: The report of Phase one of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry finds systemic failings by the London Fire Brigade. Some of the bereaved and survivors of the incident have suggested that the firefighters were let down by inadequate training, procedures, equipment and leadership. Read the report here. (Guardian, 30 October 2019).


15 October: The charity Maternity Action launches a legal challenge to the government’s policy of charging destitute pregnant migrant women at least £7,000 to access NHS maternity care, as it says women are avoiding essential care to save money and the government is in breach of the public sector equality duty. The claim also challenges the charging of other groups of migrant women, those who have suffered gender-based violence, destitute migrant women and their children who are awaiting an outcome on their immigration applications from the Home Office. (Maternity Action Press Release, 15 October 2019; Guardian, 16 October 2019)

15 October: A Guardian investigation finds one-third of local councils are using algorithms in decision-making on benefit claims, prevention of child abuse and other welfare decisions, despite concerns about unreliability, bias and inability to challenge decisions. Bristol City Council assesses almost a quarter of its 170,000 population using algorithms. (Guardian, 15 October 2019, 15 October 2019)

23 October: Docs Not Cops Swansea publishes a report showing that, two years after the introduction of ‘hostile environment’ policies in the Welsh NHS, migrants are being left in thousands of pounds of debt for accessing hospital care that they need, despite their care accounting for only 0.016 per cent of the Welsh NHS budget. The campaign group calls for an end to checks on patients’ immigration status and charging patients for NHS care. (Docs Not Cops Blog, 23 October 2019)

23 October: Docs not Cops holds a national day of action, including demonstrations outside six hospitals throughout the UK to protest the Government’s ‘racist’ policy of requiring foreign patients to provide papers or payment upfront before receiving NHS hospital care. A spokesperson for the group says the policy is turning hospitals into ‘hostile environments’. (Birmingham Live, 23 October 2019)


15 October: Research by the University and College Union finds that BME university staff are paid less than their white colleagues and are severely under-represented in more senior academic roles. (Guardian, 15 October 2019)

23 October: The Equality and Human Rights Commission study into racism in universities finds thousands of racist incidents, with Black students, followed by Asian students, reporting the most, and universities failing to log incidents and being ‘in denial’. Racial slurs and insults, including the N-word, from other students and lecturers were common, and a fifth of students also reported physical assaults. The EHRC is criticised for including anti-English, anti-Welsh and anti-Scottish incidents as racial harassment. (Guardian, 23 October 2019).


19 October: The Metropolitan police investigate after an FA qualifying Cup fixture between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town is abandoned, with the Haringey team walking off the pitch after its goalkeeper, Valery Pajetat, is racially abused and hit by a missile. (Guardian, 20 October 2019)

23 October: In one week, alleged racist incidents are investigated at six British clubs, including Haringey Borough (above). Bradford City appeals for witnesses after a fan is attacked in Manningham Lane in the build-up to a fixture with Port Vale; racist chanting is heard at a Bristol City fixture; in Scotland, Hearts fans are investigated for alleged racist abuse targeted at Rangers’ striker Alfredo Morelos; Manchester United investigate abuse against Trent Alexander-Arnold; and Northampton investigate claims of racist chanting by Salford fans. (Telegraph, 23 October 2019)


16 October: A swastika and anti-Semitic graffiti are carved into the window of a shelter in East Leeds. (Yorkshire Evening Post, 16 October 2019)

17 October: Police appeal for information on a racially motivated incident after a 13-year-old boy with learning difficulties is assaulted twice in a month in Ballymena, Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland. (Ballymena Times, 17 October 2019)

18 October: The Home Office is accused of ‘breathtaking hypocrisy’ after tweeting a video encouraging people to report racist hate crimes, showing a young black man talking of being told to ‘go home’ by strangers, since the Home Office emblazoned the same message on vans in its notorious 2013 advertising campaign ‘go home or face arrest’. (Independent, 18 October 2019)

18 October: Police in South Wales say reported hate crime has reached record levels in Gwent, with a 7 per cent increase (237 incidents). Two-thirds of the crimes are related to race. (South Wales Argus, 28 October 2019)

18 October: Hampshire police report record levels of hate crimes, with 2,726 recorded in 2018-19. Two-thirds of reported incidents are race-related. (Southern Daily Echo, 18 October 2019)

20 October: Religiously-motivated hate crimes are up by 32 per cent in Teeside, but race remains the most common motivating factor in hate crimes, behind four out of five reported incidents (a total of 713 racially motivated crimes in 2018-19). (Teeside Live, 20 October 2019)

20 October: Reported incidents of hate crime are down 7 per cent in West Mercia. Of the 1,242 hate crimes recorded in 2018-19, nearly two-thirds related to race. (The Shuttle, 20 October 2019)

20 October: Race remains the most common motivating factor in the 643 hate crimes recorded across Lincolnshire in 2018-19, with 374 recorded incidents, up 41 percent from the year before, making race a factor in two out of three recorded incidents. (Lincolnshire Live, 20 October 2019) 

19 October: Hate crime figures are at their highest ever level in Cheshire, with 1,657 recorded incidents in the region in 2018-19 – an increase of 13 per cent from the year before. Race remains the most common motivating factor, with 1,078 racially motivated crimes, up to six per cent and accounting for two out of three reported incidents. (Cheshire Live, 19 October 2019)

19 October: Thames Valley police report a 50 per cent increase in hate crimes in 2018-19, with just 8 per cent leading to prosecutions. Three-quarters of the 3,624 hate crimes recorded related to race. (Bracknell News, 19 October 2019)

20 October: Police announce they will trail Twitter Bots, artificial intelligence pioneered by Cardiff University to predict where hate crimes will take place after the Brexit deadline of 31 October. It works through recognising Twitter posts deemed hateful or antagonistic on the grounds of religion, ethnicity or race. (Daily Mail, 20 October 2019)

20 October: Dorset police report a 29 per cent increase in hate crimes to 726 recorded incidents in 2018-19, with two-thirds related to race. (Bournemouth Daily Echo, 20 October 2019)

20 October: Hate crimes are reported to have risen across the North East, with racially motivated crimes being the most commonly reported.1,848 racially motivated incidents are recorded in the Northumbria police area in 2018-19 and 507 recorded by Durham Constabulary, an increase of 3.5 and 6.9 per cent respectively from the previous year. (Chronicle Live, 20 October 2019)

21 October: Police call for witnesses to come forward in their ongoing investigation into an assault on an 11-year-old boy who earlier this month was punched in the head, kicked to the floor, and verbally abused in a residential area of Bridgewater, Somerset. (Evening Standard, 21 October 2019)

22 October: Essex police explain the 40 per cent increase in reported hate crime over the past year in terms of Brexit, homophobia and religion. (Epping Forest Guardian, 22 October 2019)

Priti Patel © DIFID via Wiki Commons

23 October: Home secretary Priti Patel says the reported surge in hate crime is a ‘good thing’ because it shows the police are recording more offences. She fails to acknowledge that such crimes are on the rise. (Independent, 23 October 2019)

23 October: Hate crimes in North Somerset are reported to have increased by 23 per cent over the past two years (a total of 153 cases). Superintendent Andy Bennett attributes the rise in racial and religiously-motivated attacks to the impact of Brexit which appears ‘to have given people a mandate’. (Weston, Worle and Somerset Mercury, 23 October 2019)

23 October: A teenager is jailed and another receives a suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to a racial attack in October 2017 in Brighton, on a Korean student who was left with facial injuries after he was hit in the face with a bottle, simply because he was Asian. (CPS, 23 October 2019).

23 October: There has been a 17 percent increase in reported hate crimes in Wales, to almost 4,000 recorded incidents relating to race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender people. The figures have doubled over the last six years. (Nation Cymru, 23 October 2019)

23 October: Neo-nazis who attempt to torch the Jewish Aurora community centre in Budapest cause minor damage. The activism centre is host to other groups, such as the Roma Press Centre, Budapest Pride and the Migszol refugee advocacy group.  (JTA, 23 October 2019)

28 October: In the Irish Republic, a car belonging to Martin Kenny, Sinn Féin TD for Sligo-Leitrim, is set on fire. Although Garda say it is too early to attribute a motive, Kenny has received death threats since speaking in parliament in favour of a new asylum accommodation centre in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, where a local community group has mounted a round-the-clock silent protest in opposition to the plan. (Irish Times, 29 October 2019)

28 October: In south-west France, an 84-year-old man who once stood as a candidate for the Front National in local elections in Landes, is arrested in Bayonne after a gun and arson attack on the local mosque which left two worshippers seriously injured.(Guardian, 28 October 2019)


This calendar was compiled by the IRR News team with the help of Laura Wormington and Graeme Atkinson.

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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