Calendar of Racism and Resistance (3 – 16 December 2020)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (3 – 16 December 2020)

News

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 MIGRATION

Asylum and migrant rights

3 December: The Home Office is failing potential victims of modern slavery, rules the High Court, as an ‘unlawful lacuna’ in existing immigration policy means they are stripped of immigration status. (Independent, 4 December 2020) 

10 December: The claims of asylum seekers passing through a ‘safe’ third country to claim asylum in the UK from 1 January will be treated as inadmissible, in a change to immigration rules designed to curtail arrivals from Europe, but only if the transit country or another safe country agrees to admit them. (Guardian, 10 December 2020)  

13 December: French officials are telling children and families they can no longer apply to join relatives in the UK, according to charity Safe Passage, as the Home Office reneges on its pledge to ensure families applying before 31 December will be able to reunite. (Observer, 13 December 2020) 

14 December: Following widespread criticism of the implementation of the Windrush compensation scheme, including from its architect, the home secretary announces radical reforms to the scheme including faster and more generous payments. (Guardian, 9 December; Guardian, 13 December 2020) 

Borders and internal controls

1 December: European Parliament Socialist and Democrat MEPs demand the resignation of Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri for failing to answer questions about the border agency’s role in pushbacks at the EU’s external borders and breaking its mandate by failing to recruit at least 40 fundamental rights monitors. (Statewatch, 3 December 2020) 

10 December: In Spain, a Senegalese man is sentenced to three years in prison for driving a boat of 31 people that arrived in Arguineguin on 9 July. (Are You Syrious, 11 December 2020) 

15 December: Borderline Europe publishes Incarcerating the marginalised: the fight against alleged smugglers on the Greek ‘hotspot’ islandsbased on 48 cases, which shows how migrants are being sentenced heavily as smugglers, sometimes to life imprisonment, for steering boats, ‘scapegoats of a failed European migration policy’. (Borderline Europe, 15 December 2020) 

Reception and detention

2 DecemberIn FranceCalais authorities cut down woods used as shelter by migrants waiting for a chance to cross the border, leading a Sudanese refugee to observe ‘We’re beaten, gassed and now we’re hunted in the woods’. (Reporterre, 2 December 2020)  

5 DecemberForty migration and prisoners’ rights groups call on the home secretary urgently to release foreign nationals held in prison post-sentence under immigration powers, who are unable to access legal advice with legal visits banned. (Independent, 5 December 2020) 

7 December: The only legal aid firm in Folkestone providing advice to asylum seekers claims its lawyers are denied access to their clients at Napier barracks needing urgent legal advice, as residents are transferred to immigration removal centres for speedy removal from the country. (Guardian, 7 December 2020)  

8 December: Asylum seekers and aid workers are at risk of lead poisoning at the temporary Kara Tepe camp in Lesvos, Greece, says Human Rights Watch, as no comprehensive lead testing or soil remediation took place at the repurposed military firing range, and unexploded mortar projectiles and live small arms ammunition were not cleared. (Human Rights Watch, 8 December 2020) 

9 December: The government is criticised over plans to house up to 500 asylum seekers on land near Barton Stacey, Hampshire. The Conservative leader of Test Valley council, Phil North, compares it to ‘an open prison’. (Guardian, 9 December 2020) 

10 December: In Spain, the bodies of three people are found after a fire in an abandoned industrial building occupied by migrants, mostly from Africa, in Badalona, near Barcelona. Others are in a critical condition and scores are unaccounted for. (Guardian, 10 December 2020) 

11 December: In Greece, a Syrian man in the Vial camp on Chios attempts suicide as a result of the deplorable living conditions and harsh bureaucracy. (Are You Syrious, 12 December 2020) 

11 December: The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) draws attention to a confidentiality clause in a new Greek communication on the regulation of temporary reception structures such as Kara Tepe, which prevents NGOs from sharing information about what happens there. (ECRE Newsletter, 11 December 2020) 

15 December: A freedom of information request by the Guardian reveals that 29 asylum seekers have died in Home Office accommodation this year – three times as many as have died crossing the Channel. (Guardian, 15 December 2020)  

Criminalisation of solidarity 

4 December: In France, people gather in Gap to protest the trial of two solidarity activists charged with ‘aiding the entry, movement or illegal residence of foreigners’ for providing assistance to a family. The case of the Briançon 2’ is postponed until May 2021. (Mediascitoyens-diois, 4 December 2020)  

Deportations

6 DecemberCampaigners and lawyers say the Home Office is in breach of a High Court order in rushing to remove asylum seekers without proper screening to identify trafficking victims(Guardian, 6 December 2020)  

8 DecemberThe Home Office cancels 20 deportations because of a Covid-19 outbreak at Brook House removal centre, which also means detainees can receive no visits and attend no appointments. (Independent, 12 December 2020)  

10 December: Councils and charities vow to boycott Home Office plans to deport migrant rough sleepers, with the GLA stating it ‘will not collaborate with such draconian measures’. (Guardian, 10 December 2020)  

12 December: A letter signed by over 100 public figures calls on the home secretary to stop the deportation of an autistic man, Osime Brown, to Jamaica, which he left age 4.  (Guardian, 12 December 2020)   

Citizenship

10 December: Following the death a Windrush victim who was denied British citizenship for a minor offence despite 59 years’ residence, his family sues the Home Office for race discrimination. (Guardian, 10 December 2020) 

POLICING, PRISONS AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

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

2 December: In France, an investigation by the NGO Disclose into the December 2018 death in Marseille of 80-year-old Zineb Redouane concludes that a police officer fired a teargas canister directly at her apartment during a gilets jaunes protest as she closed her shutters, fatally injuring her. (Guardian, 2 December 2020)   

3 December: University College London research reveals that young black males in London were 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched than the general population. (Guardian, 3 December 2020)   

6 December: In Greece, as thousands march, defying new lockdown measures, to commemorate the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by a police officer in 2008, police throw stun grenades, enter apartments and arrest dozens of protesters. (Al Jazeera, 6 December 2020)    

The area where Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot, as seen in 2008. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Mendhak.

7 December: A joint Prisons Inspectorate/ Care Quality Commission/ Ofsted inspection report finds a ‘failure of leadership’ at Rainsford Secure Training Centre, where newly arrived children are locked in their rooms for all but half an hour a day for a fortnight and nearly a quarter of children do not feel safe. (Justice Inspectorate, 7 December 2020)   

8 DecemberUnicef finds that police in some forces in England use tasers and spit hoods disproportionately on black, Asian and minority ethnic children, and recommends that both be banned in the UK. (Guardian, 8 December 2020)   

9 December: The Metropolitan police is to pay £15,000 to a victim of slavery who tried to report his traffickers, but was instead arrested for immigration offences and sent to a detention centre. The man was 15 when he was trafficked from Vietnam through Russia to the UK. (Guardian, 9 December 2020)   

9 DecemberNew sentencing guidelines will remind judges and magistrates of racial bias causing disparity in courts’ sentencing of white, Asian and black firearms offenders. (Guardian, 9 December 2020)   

9 December: Four people are charged with criminal damage over the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol in June. (Guardian, 9 December 2020)   

11 December: After a two-day misconduct hearing, a chief inspector at Humberside Police is dismissed without notice for using racist language when referring to a black colleague. (The Lincolnite, 11 December; BBC News, 12 December 2020)   

12 December: In France, as protests against the new security bill continue, Paris police kettle, douse with a water cannon and arrest almost 150 people, while in Lyon 5 people are arrested. (Al Jazeera, 12 December 2020)   

Protesters gathering last week at demonstrations across France to protest a new bill that would ban police images and increase surveillance. Photo source: Flickr. Author: Jeanne Menjoulet.

14 December: The Criminal Cases Review Commission refers the cases of two of the Stockwell Six, convicted of assault with intent to rob in 1972 on the word of a corrupt and racist British Transport police officer, to the Court of Appeal so the men can be cleared, and calls for the other four defendants to come forward. (Guardian, 14 December 2020)   

15 December:  In Portugal, demands escalate for the resignation of the interior minister over the failure to investigate the death in March of Ihor Homenyuk, a Ukrainian man who was allegedly beaten and asphyxiated by three officers who tied his arms and legs to restrain him at a detention centre at Lisbon airport in March. (Guardian, 15 December 2020)   

15 December:  A Home Office report, commissioned amidst criticisms that victims of child abuse are failed due to the racialisation of child sexual exploitation, finds that the majority of child sexual abuse gangs are made up of white men under the age of 30. (Guardian, 15 December 2020)   

11 December: The Metropolitan Police Service refers itself to the police watchdog following an incident on 8 December in Tottenham, involving the arrest of four 16-year-old boys. Footage circulated on social media appears to show police violence against a teenage boy, provoking a march with BLM banners on Tottenham police station on 11 December. (Guardian, 11 December; Independent, 11 December 2020)   

15 December: The inquest into the death in Luton police custody of 39-year-old Leon Briggs in November 2013 is scheduled for 4 January 2021, following the Crown Prosecution Service’ refusal in 2018 to prosecute any officers involved in his restraint, and Bedfordshire Police refusal to present any evidence for misconduct proceedings in February. (Luton Today, 15 December 2020) 

NATIONAL SECURITY

4 December: A schools inspectors’ report finds that the French security services failed to act over an incendiary social media campaign which preceded the beheading of the teacher Samuel Paty. (Guardian, 4 December 2020) 

9 December: Amnesty International says that if agreed, measures proposed by the European Commission to tackle terrorism, including predictive technologies to detect ‘abnormal or deviant behaviour’, more restrictions to freedom of expression and more powers to Europol, would take a ‘wrecking ball to rights’. (Euronews, 9 December 2020) 

ELECTORAL AND PARTY POLITICS

4 DecemberPriti Patel’s branding of those demanding that the deportation flight to Jamaica be stopped as ‘do-gooding celebrities’ is condemned as ‘deeply insulting … ill-judged and ill-informed’ by victims of the Windrush scandal, who accuse her of using them to score political points. (Guardian, 4 December 2020) 

5 December: On Sky News, environment secretary George Eustice refuses to condemn Millwall fans who booed footballers taking a knee in opposition to racism, saying Black Lives Matter is a ‘political movement’. He is contradicted on LBC by minister James Cleverley, who adds that condemnation of the fans does not indicate support for BLM. (Guardian, 6 December; Guardian, 7 December 2020) 

7 December: The Austrian government’s coalition partner, the Greens, criticise chancellor Sebastian Kurz for stigmatising comments that appear to link Covid-19 infections with travel to the ‘Western Balkans’. (Al Jazeera, 7 December 2020) 

7 December: In the Romanian general election, the far-right ultranationalist Alliance for Romanian Unity, which has close ties to the Orthodox church, wins almost 9 percent of the vote. (Euronews8 December 2020)  

HUMAN RIGHTS AND DISCRIMINATION

4 December: The newly-appointed head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Baroness Falkner, is criticised for previous statements on Islamophobia and comments suggesting that hostility to Muslims is not surprising given associations with terrorism and grooming gangs. (Middle East Eye, 4 December 2020) 

4 December: In a report by five independent special reporters to the UN Human Rights Council, France’s proposed new security legislation, which would ban the publication of images of police in some circumstances and allow greater use of surveillance drones, is deemed incompatible with international law and human rights. (Guardian, 4 December 2020) 

7 December: The Guardian reports on protests in Madrid, Spain at conditions at Cañada Real, Europe’s largest informal settlement, now entering its third month without electricity. The regional government blames electricity failures on power drawn to illegal marijuana plantations. (Guardian, 7 December 2020) 

11 December:  The Austrian Constitutional Court rules that the ban on elementary schoolchildren wearing ‘ideologically-or religiouslyinfluenced clothing’ that covers the head, is unconstitutional as it violates the principle of equality and risks limiting Muslim girls access to education. (Deutsche Welle, 11 December 2020) 

14 December: In Demark, the government proposes to classify separately people of Middle Eastern and North African (predominantly Muslim) heritage, in order, it says, to understand patterns of crime and employment, to inform the ‘integration debate’. (The Local, 14 December 2020) 

15 DecemberAn Investigatory Powers Commission (IPCO) report reveals that MI6 failed to inform the foreign secretary that a ‘high risk agent’ operating undercover overseas had crossed ‘red lines’ (suggesting engagement in serious criminality) when seeking his re-authorisation, and that ministers were asked to approve nine cases involving a serious risk of torture or cruel and degrading treatment. (Guardian, 15 December 2020) 

ANTI-FASCISM AND FAR RIGHT

6 December: As Spain marks 42 years since the return of democracy, 271 former military personnel make inflammatory anti-Socialist statements in a manifesto, and retired air force officers express support for General Franco in a WhatsApp chat group, it is revealed. (Guardian6 December 2020) 

9 December: In Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the anti-lockdown Lateral Thinking movement is placed under state surveillance after the local security services say it has been infiltrated by extremists from the far Right, including the Reichsbürger. (Deutsche Welle, 9 December 2020) 

10 December: In Spain, following a year-long investigation two men are arrested on charges of race hate crimes, possession of arms and explosives, support of racist terrorism and offences against public health. They were attempting to sell drugs to buy weapons to prepare for the ‘race war’ to support white supremacist groups. (The Local, 14 December 2020) 

12 December:  The Austrian interior minister says the largest police weapons haul in a decade, comprising semiautomatic and automatic weapons and 100,000 rounds of ammunition, was destined for a far-right armed militia in Bavaria, Germany. Two arrests are made. (Deutsche Welle, 12 December 2020)  

15 December: In Lille, France, three members of Generation Identity, caught in an Al Jazeera investigation into an assault on a Muslim girl, are convicted of assault. One is convicted of incitement to terrorism(Al Jazeera, 15 December 2020)

HEALTH

7 DecemberGuardian analysis of inter-regional Covid-19 inequality in England shows that ethnically diverse areas are suffering four times more infections than adjacent white neighbourhoods. (Guardian, 7 December 2020)  

14 December: Data from the Office of National Statistics into the wellbeing of different ethnic groups show that Black and minority ethnic groups have suffered from a ‘triple whammy of threats’ to their mental health, incomes and life expectancy at the start of the pandemic. (Guardian, 14 December 2020) 

15 December: MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee report that 63 percent of health care workers who died of Covid-19 were BME and the pandemic is entrenching existing health inequalities. They urge the government to provide health checks to people from ethnic minority backgrounds from the age of 25. (BBC, 15 December 2020)   

HOUSING

8 December: The Grenfell inquiry hears that staff at Kingspan, which made some of the combustible material used on the tower, were aware that safety claims for the product were ‘all lies’. (Guardian, 8 December 2020) 

11 December: A review finds that a charity which helped Grenfell victims, The Westway Trust, is ‘institutionally racist’. (Independent, 11 December 2020) 

EMPLOYMENT AND EXPLOITATION

12 December: Dudley Council orders an independent inquiry into staff allegations of institutional racism, after its two biggest unions lodged a joint grievance, stating that the suspension of three BME members was part of a disproportionate, unhealthy pattern of behaviour towards BME workers. (Stourbridge News, 12 December 2020) 

14 December: An International Labour Organisation report finds that migrant workers in highincome countries earn on average nearly 13 percent less than national workers, and that women migrant workers, especially domestic workers, face a ‘double wage penalty’. (RTE, 14 December 2020)  

EDUCATION

1 December: At the launch of Ofsted’s annual report, Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of schools in England, resists calls for a more diverse curriculum, and warns against increasing efforts to ‘commandeer’ schools in support of campaigns including environmental causes and racism. (Guardian, 1 December 2020) 

14 December: A report by the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership finds that murdered Hackney teenager Tashaun Aird was illegally expelled from his school and placed in alternative provision, where he was exploited by gangs. (Hackney Citizen, 14 December 2020) 

14 December: Education secretary Gavin Williamson says guidance warning schools against using resources from anti-capitalist and other ‘extremist’ organisations is to be reviewed, in the light of threatened legal action by the Coalition of Anti-Racist Educators and the Black Education Alliance. (Guardian, 15 December 2020) 

14 December: A study by University College London’s Institute for Education reveals that almost half of English schools have no black or minority ethnic teachers, and even where there are, senior leadership teams are invariably white. (Guardian, 14 December 2020) 

MEDIA, CULTURE AND SPORT

4 December: Following the denunciation of ‘activist lawyers’ by the prime minister and the home secretary, the Daily Mail prints names and photographs of lawyers representing proposed deportees taken off the charter deportation flight to Jamaica. (Mail online, 4 December 2020) 

4 December: In Larissa, Greece, a Holocaust monument is vandalised by a man wearing a cassock in what the local synagogue calls a ‘heinous’ act. (Ekathimerini, 4 December 2020)  

The Larissa Holocaust memorial before it was vandalised. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Arie Darzi.

4 DecemberThe Times apologises and pays damages to the organisation Cage and director Moazzam Begg for falsely suggesting it was supporting an individual suspected of a Reading knife attack in June which killed three people. (Guardian, 4 December 2020) 

6 DecemberAs Millwall football club expresses dismay and sadness at fans who booed footballers taking a knee against racism at the start of a game against Derby, anti-racism charity Kick it Out accuses environment secretary George Eustice of providing shelter to racists after he refuses to condemn the fans, saying Black Lives Matter is a ‘political movement’. (Guardian, 6 December 2020) 

8 December: During a UEFA champion league fixture in France, the entire Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir football teams walk off the pitch to protest against alleged racist slurs by a match official against the Turkish club’s black assistant coach. (Deutsche Welle, 8 December 2020) 

8 DecemberAfter Millwall FC announces a series of anti-racism measures, including an audit of board members, staff, volunteers and participants, at the club’s game with Queen’s Park Rangers, players link arms and hold a banner which reads Inequality – united for change’, while QPR players take the knee. (Guardian, 7 December; Sky Sports, 8 December 2020) 

12 December: Right-wing Conservative MP Richard Drax, whose vast family fortune in England and Barbados is largely based on slave labour on still-functioning plantations where up to 30,000 slaves died, resists calls for reparations from the Caribbean Community Reparations Commission, saying ‘No one can be held responsible today for what happened many hundreds of years ago’. (Observer, 12 December 2020) 

13 December: The British Horseracing Authority announces an investigation after a racehorse with a racial slur as its name was allowed to compete in Wolverhampton. (Guardian, 13 December 2020)

15 DecemberBroadcasting union BECTU’s report, Race to be Heard, calls for the formation of an independent body to tackle racism in the broadcasting industry. (Variety, 15 December 2020) 

15 DecemberJournalist Julie Burchill’s publisher Little, Brown cancels her book contract after the Sunday Telegraph columnist attacks journalist Ash Sarkar with a string of Islamophobic tweets. (Guardian, 15 December 2020) 

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

2 December: A 28-year-old man is fined after he is found guilty of racially abusing a man outside an Indian restaurant in Barrow, Lancashire, in May 2020. (The Mail, 3 December 2020) 

2 December: A homeless man is given an 18-month community order, rehabilitation days and fines after he is found guilty of racially abusing a nurse and threating to physically attack another, at a hospital in Stockton-on-Tees in November 2020. (Teesside Live, 2 December 2020) 

2 December: A 52-year-old man contemplates closing his take-away shop in Stockport, which he has owned for 22 years, saying he and his staff face near continual racially aggravated harassment and abuse. Police are investigating a racially motivated attack that occurred at the business. (Manchester Evening News, 2 December 2020) 

3 December: A caterer selling Caribbean cuisine from his food van at Frome cricket club, Somerset is targeted in a racist attack by a white man who damages his van with a hammer and racially abuses him. (BBC News, 8 December 2020) 

4 December: A 57-year-old man is charged with four racially aggravated public order offences after reports that he racially abused two men and abused a woman in a shopping centre in Liverpool, on 2 December. (Merseyside Police, 4 December 2020) 

4 December: A 37-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of racially abusing a woman near Victoria Park, Leicester in November 2020. Police appeal for more information. (Leicestershire Live, 4 December 2020) 

4 December: 12-year-old Shukri Abdi’s family say they are considering a judicial review of the north Manchester coroner’s decision that Shukri’s death by drowning in the river Irwell in June 2019 was accidental, although the children with her subjected her to peer pressure to get her into the water. (Guardian4 December 2020)

6 December: A 32-year-old man pleads guilty to shouting racially aggravated abuse towards a couple outside their address in Christchurch, Dorset, in October 2020. (Asian Image, 6 December 2020) 

7 December: A 35-year-old mother who has sought asylum in the UK, claims that she, her 14-year-old son and her 15-year-old daughter face racist abuse and harassment on a daily basis, since they moved to Keyham, Plymouth two years ago. (Plymouth Live, 7 December 2020) 

9 December: A 35-year-old man is sent to prison and must pay compensation after he admits to threatening to damage a Lidl store and racially abusing an individual, in Leicester in November 2020. (Coventry Live, 9 December 2020) 

10 December: Eight individuals are charged with racially aggravated assault following an altercation in Sheffield city centre in June 2020. A ninth person, a 16-year-old boy, is reported for affray and racially aggravated common assault. (South Yorkshire Police, 10 December 2020)  
 
11 December: A 17-year-old boy is taken to hospital with minor injuries following an incident outside Edinburgh University, during which a group of six males and one female hurled racist abuse at him, and the males violently attacked him. (Edinburgh Live, 12 December 2020)  

14 December: A 37-year-old woman is arrested on suspicion of making racially aggravated threats towards members of the public in Bridgwater, Somerset on December. (Somerset Live, 14 December 2020) 

14 December: In Gran CanariaSpain, around thirty residents, prompted by social media scaremongering, stage an angry protestshouting ‘Moors get out’, outside a hotel in Arguineguín used as a Red Cross migrant shelter. (El Pais, 15 December 2020) 

15 December: A 41-year-old man is made subject to a three-year restraining order, banning any contact with his victims, after he pleads guilty to hurling racial abuse and using threatening language toward his neighbours in Leicester in May 2020. (Leicestershire Live, 15 December 2020)  

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


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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