Calendar of Racism and Resistance (9 – 23 May 2023)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (9 – 23 May 2023)

News

Written by: IRR News Team


A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe. Find these stories and all others since 2014 on our searchable database, the Register of Racism and Resistance.

ASYLUM | MIGRATION | BORDERS | CITIZENSHIP

Asylum and migrant rights

16 May: A leaked letter reveals that the Home Office is to ‘fast-track’ asylum claims by Iranians and Iraqis, who will be required to complete detailed questionnaires in English and attend a shortened interview, with non-compliance leading to refusal of claims. (Guardian, 16 May 2023) 

17 May: In Portugal, immigrants with residency rights launch a petition for family reunification rights, stating that they have been left in limbo since the immigration authorities (SEF) stopped giving appointments, with none available across the country. (Portugal News, 17 May 2023) 

18 May: Euro-Med Monitor’s new report, ‘Happiness, love and understanding’: the protection of unaccompanied minors across the EU reveals that compared with accompanied minors they suffer more detention, disappearances, and lack of education. (Middle East Monitor, 18 May 2023) 

16 May: Prime minister Rishi Sunak uses his address at the Council of Europe summit to argue for stronger action to end ‘illegal’ migration, and  defends his plan to ignore rulings from the European Court of Human Rights over the Rwanda policy. (Guardian, 16 May 2023) 

19 May: Dozens of asylum seekers in Wales find themselves without legal representation as law firms are forced to drop their cases because retrospective legal aid funding means they wait for years while the Home Office fails to decide asylum claims. (Wales Online, 19 May 2023)

23 May: The home secretary Suella Braverman is accused of breaking the ministerial code over a failure to formally disclose years of previous work  with the Africa Justice Foundation, a charity providing training to Rwandan government lawyers. Several people she  worked with are now key members of President Paul Kagame’s government and are involved in the UK’s £140m deal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. (Independent, 23 May 2023)

Borders and internal controls

10 May: Rescues in the Channel by the volunteer-run Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) increased from 9 in 2013 to almost 100 in 2021, it is reported, as the UK coastguard tasks RNLI to rescue migrant boats in distress. (inews, 10 May 2023)

19 May: Video footage of an illegal ‘pushback’ in April in Lesvos, Greece, is published by the New York Times, which says the footage amounts to a ‘shocking indictment’ of the centre-right government which has always denied the practice and is currently fighting an election campaign on the basis that its immigration policies are ‘tough but fair’. (Guardian, 19 May 2023)

Reception and detention
See also Anti-Fascism and the far Right for further racist incidents outside asylum hostels

10 May: Internal EU documents obtained by Al Jazeera reveal that a new generation of EU-funded refugee camps on the Greek Aegean islands struggle to deliver basic services and safeguards to even the most vulnerable asylum seekers, with sexual and other violence impacting children. (Al Jazeera, 11 May 2023) 

11 May: Afghan refugees uprooted from London to a Yorkshire hotel in March receive an eviction notice signed by Suella Braverman, as the Home Office says residents may not receive an offer of alternative housing and must find their own accommodation. (Guardian, 16 May 2023)

14 May: The chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council says the Department of Housing and the Dublin Region Homelessness Executive must act urgently to expand their homeless service to assist asylum seekers sleeping rough and targeted by the far Right. (RTE,  14 May 2023)  

15 May: An investigation by the Irish Times finds that almost a dozen companies were paid more than €10 million each under State contracts to provide accommodation to asylum seekers, with one hotel group paid more than €80 million from State contracts. (Irish Times, 15 May 2023) 

16 May: As protesters block road access to a hostel being used to house asylum seekers in Inch, Co Clare, Ireland, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin says the government and local authorities will engage with communities to ‘ease’ their concerns. Clare Immigrant Support offers assistance to the newly-arrived asylum seekers. (RTE, 16 May 2023) 

18 May: The Italian government announces that Friuli Venezzia-Giulia will be the first region in northern Italy to host a ‘hotspot’ to accommodate an upsurge in migrants arriving via the ‘Balkan route’ and will include a detention and repatriation facility. (Balkan Insight, 18 May 2023) 

22 May: In Ireland, police launch an investigation after a 70-year-old man is hit in the face by a torch after approaching two men protesting against migrants in School, Co Clare. In Santry, Dublin, a small group of masked men stop taxis and buses entering the Airways Industrial Estate, as a new anti-migrant blockade begins. (RTE, 22 May 2023; Irish Times, 22 May 2023) 

20 May: An investigation at five Home Office hotels in and around Liverpool hears reports of institutional abuse by hostile and racist staff, intimidation of vulnerable people, poor management of medicines, and instructions to deny people food and water. (Observer, 20 May 2023) 

21 May: The body of an unnamed man who was awaiting a decision on his asylum claim and staying in a hotel in Kegworth, Leicestershire, is found by the river Soar after passersby reported finding discarded clothing and personal items on the bank. (Metro, 21 May 2023)

21 May: Over 20 groups in Falmouth protest the use of the ‘floating prison’ Bibby Stockholm to house asylum seekers claiming it will re-traumatise vulnerable people many who have already experienced sea-related trauma. (Cornwall Live, 21 May 2023) 

A no floating prisons banner outside the Home Office, central London
‘No Floating Prisons’ protest outside the Home Office, London. Credit: Steve Eason, Flickr.
Deportations

19 May: Defence minister James Heappey refuses to support an Afghan air force veteran who served alongside British forces and is facing deportation to Rwanda having arrived in a small boat. The minister refuses to correct his false statement to parliament that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of Afghans have applied for resettlement. (Independent, 19 May 2023)

22 May: An Afghan colonel who worked with UK forces in Helmand province and was forced to flee to the UK in a small boat after his resettlement application went unanswered is threatened with deportation to Rwanda. (Independent, 22 May 2023)

ELECTORAL POLITICS | GOVERNMENT POLICY

As anti-migrant, anti-equalities, anti-abortion, misogynistic and anti-LGBTQI rhetoric in electoral campaigning are increasingly interlinked, we reflect this in the coverage below which also includes information on the influence of the Christian Right as well as the religious Right generally.

10 May: As the Illegal Migration Bill goes to the Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury condemns it as ‘morally unacceptable’ and damaging to the UK’s interests at home and abroad. (Guardian, 10 May 2023)

11 May: The prime minister’s press secretary defends home secretary Suella Braverman after it emerges that she is to appear at the National Conservatism conference which had previously hosted anti-LGBTQ+ politicians from Hungary, Italy and Poland, as well as Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis who signed the state’s anti-LGBTQ+ Don’t Say Gay bill into law. (Byline Supplement, 11 May 2023) 

14 May: Nine lawyers and faith organisations lodge a complaint with the Bar Standards Board claiming that Suella Braverman, a qualified lawyer, has breached the barristers’ code of conduct with ‘racist sentiments and discriminatory narratives’ aimed at British men of Pakistani origin and asylum seekers. (Guardian, 14 May 2023) 

15 May: Conservative MPs accuse Suella Braverman of undermining the prime minister’s authority and bidding for the leadership as she uses her National Conservatism conference speech to mock those seeking to eradicate inequality as well as rejecting calls from the butchering, farming and HGV industries to ease visa rules to resolve labour shortages. (Guardian, 14 May 2023, Guardian, 15 May 2023)

16 May: The list of Conservative MPs speaking at the National Conservatism Conference, where antisemitic tropes were reportedly included in speeches attacking ‘globalism’ and ‘cultural Marxism’, now includes Miriam Cates, John Hayes (Common Sense Group), Danny Kruger, Jacob Rees-Mogg and cabinet members Suella Braverman and Michael Gove. (Guardian, 16 May 2023, Guardian, 15 May 2023) 

17 May: Historian David Starkey tells the National Conservatism Conference that movements like Black Lives Matter and critical race theory are attempting to destroy ‘white culture’. (Independent, 17 May 2023) 

22 May: In the Greek general elections, which resulted in a sweeping victory for the ruling conservative New Democracy, the far-right Greek Solution wins approximately 4.6% of the vote and 16 seats. (Keep Talking Greece, 22 May 2023) 

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT

See also Asylum and Migration: Reception and detention, for further racist incidents outside asylum hostels

10 May: Police in Bucharest, Romania, launch an investigation after a ‘collaborator’ with the far-right AUR party, during a protest outside parliament against child protection measures, attempts to enter the building apparently carrying ammunition. (Romania Insider, 10 May 2023) 

11 May: A refugee accommodation centre in Co Donegal, Ireland, is severely damaged in a suspected arson attack weeks before its scheduled completion. A businessman who funded the project suspects those with an anti-refugee agenda, adding that he has received abusive messages. (Independent.ie, 11 May 2023) 

13 May: After a makeshift-camp housing asylum seekers in Dublin, Ireland is burnt to the ground, the far-right group Real Message Eire, which had earlier clashed with anti-fascist protesters at the site, claims responsibility on social media, describing it as a ‘shanty town’ full of ‘illegal migrants and communists’. (Euronews, 13 May 2023; Independent.ie, 13 May 2023) 

14 May: Yannick Morez, mayor of Saint-Brevin-les-Pins in western France, resigns two months after his home was destroyed in arson attack which followed protests against a planned asylum centre in the town and far-right threats against the mayor. (France 24, 14 May 2023 

15 May: Four members of the far-right combat sports group ‘Knockout 51’, which had formed a ‘Nazi neighbourhood’ in Eisenach, Germany, are charged with a variety of crimes including serious bodily harm, resisting and attacking police officers, and violating weapons laws. (San Francisco Chronicle, 15 May 2023)  

15 May: James Allchurch from Pembrokeshire, host of the Radio Albion (previously Radio Aryan) podcast that promoted white supremacist and racist ideology, is jailed for two and half years after being found guilty of distributing audio material to stir up racial hatred. (Guardian, 15 May 2023) 

16 May: Austrian Railways launch an investigation after an Adolf Hitler speech was played on a train intercom on a journey to Vienna. Two people, not employed by the company, are arrested. (Vigour Times 15 May 2023; Euronews, 16 May 2023) 

20 May: The Scottish TUC organises an anti-fascist rally outside the Muthu Glasgow River hotel in Erskine, to counter anti-asylum protests by Patriotic Alternative/Homeland targeting the hotel in recent months. (STV, 20 May 2023)

POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

11 May: In Germany, the Ombudsman and police commissioner for Berlin says he is unable to carry out his duties properly because procedures forbid him to access investigation files concerning complaints against the police, including witness statements or autopsy reports. (Taz, 11 May 2023)  

11 May: The European Parliament votes to ban live facial recognition in public places, indiscriminate scraping of data from social media or CCTV to create facial recognition databases, emotion recognition and predictive policing systems based on profiling. There will be another vote next month. (Research Live, 12 May 2023)

12 May: A month after a man fell to his death in Peckham, south-east London, after being Tasered, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announces that two police officers are under criminal investigation for gross negligence manslaughter, with one also being investigated for unlawful act manslaughter. (IOPC, 12 May 2023) 

12 May: A police officer is acquitted at Southwark Crown Court of unlawfully inflicting grievous bodily harm on Jordan Walker-Brown, who was left paralysed after the officer Tasered him in May 2020, in Haringey, London. (Guardian, 12 May 2023)  

Taser Trauma: An increasingly British phenomenon

12 May: Two Metropolitan police officers are dismissed without notice for punching and kicking a 14-year-old black boy during his arrest in Finsbury Park in April 2021 and lying about the incident in their statements immediately afterwards. (Independent, 12 May 2023) 

12 May: A court in the Czech Republic releases on parole, two-thirds into their sentences, two neo-Nazis convicted of the 2009 firebomb attack on a Romani family that left toddler Natálka Kudrikova with 80% burns. The family express shock. (ERRC, May 2023)  

17 May: A West Mercia police officer is sacked for sending racist, homophobic and inappropriate memes and content on his mobile phone. (BBC News, 17 May 2023) 

17 May: As ministers call for live facial recognition technology to be ‘embedded’ in everyday policing, South Wales police announce that LFR will be used in Cardiff city centre during a Beyoncé concert. (Guardian, 17 May 2023) 

19 May: The National Crime Agency denies reports that it has a target list of lawyers assisting traffickers, who ministers claim are helping Albanian organised crime gangs abuse asylum laws. (Law Society Gazette, 19 May 2023; Guardian, 18 May 2023) 

20 May: The Afrobeat artist Fuse ODG releases a video of an incident in February where he was dragged out of his car by police who told him he smelled of cannabis. He says he spent six hours in A&E from over-tight handcuffs, suffered for weeks from neck and back pain, and has made a formal complaint. (BBC News,  20 May 2023) 

22 May: A female police officer is charged with three counts of racially aggravated battery and one count of racially aggravated threatening behaviour following an off-duty incident in Oxford on 17 December 2022. (ITV News, 22 May 2023) 

EDUCATION

10 May: The Polish education minister says he will investigate the university affiliation of 1,000 academics who signed a letter in defence of a Holocaust scholar who criticised Poles for doing little to help Jews during the war. He will ‘review funding’ of institutions that employ scholars who ‘slander Poles’. (Notes from Poland, 10 May 2023) 

14 May: The charity School-Home Support (SHS) finds that insecure, unsuitable and bad housing is increasingly impacting on school attendance, with nearly a fifth of pupils citing it as a cause of absence. (Guardian, 14 May 2023) 

15 May: Following a review of the residency criteria for access to financial support in higher and further education, the Scottish government announces changes to residency rules which will allow migrant students to access higher education in Scotland. (JustRight Scotland, 15 May 2023) 

18 May: Goldsmiths University in south-east London launches an inquiry into antisemitism, led by Mohinderpal Sethi KC. (Goldsmiths, 18 May 2023) 

HOUSING | POVERTY | WELFARE

9 May: Southwark council tenant Aysen Dennis issues a legal challenge over redevelopment plans for the Aylesbury estate involving the demolition of her home, which she says amount to ‘social cleansing’, as plans for social housing are repeatedly revised downwards. (Guardian, 9 May 2023)

11 May: The Disability News Service claims that the Department for Work and Pensions may have hidden crucial evidence from an inquiry into the death of Errol Graham, who starved to death after having his benefits wrongly stopped. Nottingham City Safeguarding Adults Board indicates it will review the new evidence. (Disability News Service, 11 May 2023)  

11 May: An Independent investigation into the racial disparities facing renters reveals that 81% of Black and Asian renters have been made to live in disrepair over the past 12 months. Non-white renters’ exposure to mould, damp, boiler and heating problems, and illegal acts by landlords are shown to be significantly higher than their white counterparts. (Independent, 11 May 2023) 

15 May: A Generation Rent study conducted with 105 private renters in Britain and Ireland finds ‘shocking discrimination towards minority ethnic communities navigating the private rental market’, with minority ethnic renters, and Black renters in particular, more likely to be threatened with eviction and less likely to receive a written tenancy agreement or have repair requests addressed. (Landlord Today, 15 May 2023) 

17 May: Draft regulations are introduced into parliament to exempt asylum landlords from requirements to obtain HMO licences for up to two years, allowing them to ignore basic safety, sanitation and overcrowding standards, putting asylum seekers at serious risk.  (Guardian, 16 May 2023)

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

18 May: The British Medical Journal reports that government plans to remove the 72-hour limit on detention of pregnant women under the Illegal Migration Bill will compromise the health and well-being of the women and their babies. (BMJ, 18 May 2023)

19 May: A report by the Centre for Reproductive Rights warns that survivors of wartime rape and conflict-related sexual violence, LGBT+ Ukrainians and minorities fleeing the war in Ukraine have to deal with sexual healthcare limitations in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. (Euronews, 19 May 2023) 

EMPLOYMENT | EXPLOITATION | INDUSTRIAL ACTION

11 May: Of the 510 gig economy workers surveyed in a University of Bristol study, 52% report earning below the minimum wage, and over three-quarters report work-related insecurity, anxiety and health concerns. (Guardian, 11 May 2023) 

15 May: The families of five migrant workers crushed to death by a collapsing wall at their Birmingham workplace in July 2016 express relief as their employer, Hawkeswood Metal Recycling, is convicted of 12 health and safety offences and fined £1.6 million, and two directors are jailed for 9 months for failing to provide a safe workplace. (Birmingham Mail, 15 May 2023) 

16 May: Hospitality businesses in Jersey are offered cultural diversity training following two reported instances of racism against migrant employees in 2022. The island’s hospitality industry is increasingly reliant on seasonal work permit holders from the Caribbean, Nepal, Kenya, Indonesia and the Philippines. (Jersey Evening Post, 16 May 2023) 

16 May: Anti-slavery charity Unseen says calls to its helpline significantly increased over 2021 and 2022 and condemn the Illegal Migration Bill’s criminalisation of some victims of modern slavery forcing them underground and denying them protection. (Independent, 16 May 2023)

DISCRIMINATION | EQUALITIES | HUMAN RIGHTS

23 May: An investigation is launched into complaints of a ‘toxic environment’ at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Some 40 complaints have been made by current or former members of staff who believe that the organisation has become ‘severely politically compromised’ with a ‘lack of trust in the impartiality and independence’ of appointees. (ienews, 23 May 2023)

CULTURE | MEDIA | SPORT

While we cannot cover all incidents of racist abuse on sportspersons or their responses, we provide a summary of the most important incidents. For more information follow Kick it Out.

12 May: Arsenal FC liaises with police over antisemitic posts including songs, memes and cartoons about the Holocaust, Jewish circumcision practices and Tottenham FC, sent in the WhatsApp group of a prominent fan organisation it helped, the Ashburton Army. (Guardian, 12 May 2023)

13 May: The Irish Times says it will review its editorial processes after removing an opinion article that claimed that using fake tan was racist. Critics had pointed out on social media that the article and the photograph of its author may have been generated using artificial intelligence. (Independent.ie, 13 May 2023)

14 May: Police in Puglia, Italy say voicemail messages circulated on WhatsApp warning that police are intervening against ‘Romani child abductors’ are ‘fake news’. (ERRC, 18 May 2023) 

19 May: Samir Shah, a contributor to the controversial Sewell report on race disparities that denied the existence of structural racism in the UK, is asked to jointly chair a review of the BBC’s impartiality when covering Channel crossings. (i, 19 May 2023)

23 May: Spanish police arrest three people in connection with racist abuse suffered by Vinícius Júnior during Sunday’s Real Madrid v Valencia match and hold four more over a racist effigy of him hung from a Madrid bridge in January. Sunday’s abuse caused Vinícius Jr to say that many now see Spain ‘as a country of racists’, provoking condemnation by the Spanish league president. (Guardian, 23 May 2023)

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

See also Asylum and migration: reception and detention; and Anti-fascism and far Right, for racist incidents outside asylum hostels.

10 May: A 66-year-old man is charged with racially abusing players at a Celtic v Rangers football match at Ibrox Stadium on 2 January. He will face trial in August. (Glasgow Times, 10 May 2023)

10 May: Dudley Magistrates Court orders a 64-year-old man from Stourport to pay a total of £485 for racially abusing a player at a Midland Football League match in January. (West Midlands Police, 10 May 2023)

11 May: Mold magistrates issue a 29-year-old woman a 12-month community order with 120 hours unpaid work and £100 compensation after she pleads guilty to two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and one of racially aggravated abuse committed on 24 August 2022. (The Leader, 11 May 2023) 

11 May: A 49-year-old man from Bagillt is convicted of racially abusing a police officer on 15 January. Mold Magistrates Court fines him £200 and order him to pay £200 more in compensation. (The Leader, 11 May 2023) 

12 May: Avon and Somerset Police launch a CCTV appeal to identify three men who racially and homophobically abused, punched and knocked out two women in Bristol on 29 October 2022.  (Pink News, 12 May 2023) 

12 May: British Transport Police launch a CCTV appeal to identify a man in connection with a violent racist attack on a train to West Dulwich on 19 April. (Southwark News, 12 May 2023) 

13 May: Racial slurs and swastikas are found spray painted on trees, bird boxes, a bridge and a picnic table around Aveley Angling Club in Upminster. (Essex Live, 13 May 2023) 

14 May: An unidentified attacker targets a man in a racially aggravated assault near Harlow Islamic Centre. (Your Harlow, 16 May 2023)

15 May: Nottinghamshire Police launch a CCTV appeal to identify a man who shouted racial abuse and attacked a ‘for sale’ sign in Lindrick on 9 May. (Worksop Guardian, 15 May 2023) 

18 May: Four men aged 21 to 49 are charged with wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm in a racially aggravated attack in Bristol on 22 July 2020. The 21-year-old male victim was walking on the pavement when he was hit by a car, leaving him with a broken nose and leg. (Planet Radio, 18 May 2023) 

19 May: A 22-year-old man from Wallingford is handed a three-year football ban and a £600 fine for racially abusing a steward at an Oxford United FA Cup game in November 2022. (Oxford Mail, 19 May 2023) 

20 May: A man is arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order and criminal damage to a police vehicle in Margate. (Kent Online, 21 May 2023) 

22 May: A 14-year-old boy and two 15-year-old girls are charged in relation to a racist attack against two Indian students committed in central Glasgow on 15 May. (The Herald, 22 May 2023)

The calendar was compiled with the help of Graeme Atkinson, Sophie Chauhan, Margaret McAdam, Louis Ordish, Kimia Talebi and Joseph Maggs. Thanks also to ECRE, the Never Again Association, Stopwatch and The Week in Work, whose regular updates on asylum, migration, far Right, racial violence, employment and policing issues are an invaluable source of information. Find these stories and all others since 2014 on our searchable database, the Register of Racism and Resistance.


Feature: Banner saying ‘You are welcome, you are loved’ for a solidarity demo at Yarl’s Wood detention centre on 20th May. Credit: Lesbians and Gays support the Migrants


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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