Post-Brexit racism

Post-Brexit racism


Written by: IRR News Team

Below we present an overview of racially motivated attacks and other incidents of harassment that have taken place since the Brexit result, which indicate the types of attacks taking place across the UK. But of course, this account is in no way exhaustive. 

24 June: A Polish man in Yeovil is approached by two men who, after asking if he speaks English, attack him with such ferocity that his cheek is fractured, and he is left with a ‘potentially life changing’ eye injury as well as ‘substantial’ bruising. (Somerset Live, 5 July 2016)

24 June: Laminated cards are left at schools and homes In Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, with the words ‘No more Polish Vermin’ in English and Polish. An 11-year-old boy who finds one of the cards says he feels ‘really sad’. (BBC News, 27 June 2016 and Cambridge News, 26 June 2016)

24 June: Polish PhD student Agata Brzezniak, 25, is told to be ‘scared’ and to be ‘prepared to have to get a visa to be able to stay in her country,’ by a woman on a Manchester bus. (Irish Examiner, 28 June 2016)

24 June: An Asian pupil at Upton Junior School in Broadstairs, Kent, is told to go home by fellow pupils. (Kent Online, 1 July 2016)

24 June: A Polish woman in her 20s is hit in her face and body as she walks through Salisbury, Wiltshire. Police are investigating whether the attack was racially motivated. (Salisbury Journal, 28 June 2016)

24 June: Caerphilly born Shazia Awan, a Remain campaigner, is told to ‘pack her bag and go home’ on Twitter. (Independent, 25 June 2016)

24 June: People are racially abused and told to go back to Europe in two separate incidents in Cumbria; one in Maryport which involved a man in his 40s and the second in a shop in Workington. (News and Star, 1 July 2016)

24 June: A Twitter user reports: ‘Daughter tells me someone wrote “[Child’s name] go back to Romania” on the wall in the girls toilets at School today.’ (Twitter, 24 June 2016)

25 June: At a far-Right demonstration in Newcastle, a banner is held up reading: ‘STOP IMMIGRATION START REPATRIATION,’ which attracts a large counter-protest. (IB Times, 25 June 2016)

25 June: Two people are arrested after the EDL holds a demonstration in Birmingham with 30 people outside the Manarat Foundation in Sheldon. The group shout racist slogans and one man is arrested for the content of an offensive banner. (Birmingham Mail, 26 June 2016)

25 June: A 14-year-old girl is racially abused by a man aged 40-50 years old who then spits on the ground in Farnborough after she leaves a bus. (Get Hampshire, 28 June 2016)

25 June: Cardiff councillor Ali Ahmed is told to ‘get out of the country’. (BBC News, 27 June 2016)

25 June: An 11-year-old girl is racially abused by one member of a gang of schoolboys in Southwater Country Park near Horsham, Sussex. (Crawley News, 27 June 2016)

25 June: Mohammed Samaana, a nurse working in Belfast, is told to ‘F*** off back to your country. Get the f*** out of our country.’ (ITV News, 28 June 2016)

25 June: A Swedish mother out with her two children in York is told to go ‘back to your own country’. (York Press, 30 June 2016)

25 June: Two women walking to their car in Belfast are racially abused and they later notice damage to their car (Irish News, 29 June 2016)

25 June: Ten German-made cars are vandalised in Perrers Road, Hammersmith, a short distance from the Polish Social and Cultural Association building, which has graffiti sprayed on it the next day. (Evening Standard, 29 June 2016)

26 June: A group of men walk through Covent Garden, London the day after Pride chanting ‘Rule Britannia. Britannia rules the waves. First we’ll get the Poles out, then the gays.’ (Evening Standard, 29 June 2016)

26 June: A doctor walking through Plymouth is accosted by an elderly man who accuses him of being Polish. (Plymouth Herald, 28 June 2016)

26 June: The Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) in Hammersmith, west London is targeted with racist graffiti (GetWestLondon, 26 June 2016)

26 June: Thomas Johnstone pleads guilty to two counts of causing religiously aggravated harassment alarm and obstructing an officer by falsely providing his brother’s name after being arrested at an EDL demonstration in Birmingham. He is fined £400 but told he will not have to pay because of spending two days in custody. He is recalled to prison on other matters. (Daily Star, 27 June 2016)

26 June: Racist graffiti, C18 and swastika slogans are sprayed onto a house and two cars in the Orangefield area of Armagh. (BBC News, 29 June 2016)

26 June: Stickers proclaiming the area a ‘white zone’ appear in and around the River Clyde and Glasgow Green area of Glasgow and a National Action poster is placed on the La Pasionara, a memorial to volunteers killed in the Spanish Civil War. (Daily Record, 28 June 2016)

27 June: A woman driving her car through Didcot is racially abused by a white man in his 60s. (Oxfordshire Guardian, 28 June 2016)

27 June: Islamophobic leaflets are posted to homes in Birmingham. (Guardian, 30 June 2016)

27 June: A woman is racially abused by a blonde woman in a blue car near the One Church in Cam, Gloucestershire. (Gloucester Gazette, 28 June 2016)

27 June: A Radio 4 Today reporter, Simi Kotecha, is called a ‘P**i’ in Basingstoke, as she reports on the EU referendum. (Basingstoke Observer, 28 June 2016)

27 June: Two restaurants in Lewisham, Spanish and Turkish, have their windows smashed. (Metro, 28 June 2016 and Twitter, 28 June 2016)

27 June: A group of men racially abuse staff in a takeaway in Rochdale and stab a customer in the back with such force that the knife blade comes off. After a nine-hour operation, his family is told that he may never walk again. (Manchester Evening News, 5 Jul 2016)

27 June: A Twitter user reports: ‘#PostRefRacism My 16yr daughter who is white-asian has been told to go home by a bus passenger just now. She was born in the uk. C***s.’ (Twitter, 27 June 2016)

27 June: A butcher’s shop, Kashmir Meat & Poultry in Walsall, is hit by an arson attack, after someone throws a petrol bomb into the shop. A worker suffers bruising but is not seriously hurt. Police later say the attack was ‘not based on the victim’s membership of any ethnic group’. (Metro, 28 June 2016 and BBC News, 1 July 2016)

27 June: Charles Etoru, 46, has a banana thrown at him by an ‘angry white man’ as he drives his sons to school in Leicester. (Daily Mail, 30 June 2016)

27 June: William Rice, a 17-year-old [white] bearded student from Bridgend, is abused in two separate incidents on the same day. In the first he has ‘Brexit’ shouted at him and is told by a man that he’d ‘voted to get your kind out of here’; and in the second, he is told by a white man in a van ’Go back home you p*** Muslim immigrant.’ (Wales Online, 1 July 2016)

27 June: A Twitter user reports: ‘Now the Spanish school on Portobello road [London] has been attacked with racist graffiti. ‘Foreign pack’ it says. Clearly they can’t spell either.’ (Twitter, 27 June 2016)

Racist graffiti behind the war memorial in Portsmouth
Racist graffiti behind the war memorial in Portsmouth

27 June: A Twitter user reports graffiti behind war memorial in Portsmouth which reads: ‘UKIP DIRTY POLISH’. (Twitter, 27 June 2016)

28 June: A Twitter user reports: ‘Friend of mine says a #Harpenden café had its window smashed and EDL and Britain First signs painted on railings opposite #PostRefRacism.’ (Twitter, 28 June 2016)

28 June: An America soldier, Juan Jasso, is racially abused on a Manchester tram by three beer-drinking young men who tell him to ‘Get back to Africa,’ after he remonstrates with them for their loud swearing. Three men, aged 16, 18 and 20, are later arrested and bailed. (Manchester Evening News, 28 June 2016 and 30 June 2016)

28 June: A 47-year-old Polish man is taken to hospital after being told to ‘go back to his country’ at the Bramley Shopping Centre in Leeds, which brings on a pre-existing heart condition. A 53-year-old man and 39-year-old woman are later arrested. (Yorkshire Post, 28 June 2016)

28 June: A licensed taxi driver allegedly tells the Punjabi customers of a Wolverhampton cafe to ‘get out’ of ‘his’ country, as well as blasting them for taking jobs from British citizens. The man is later suspended pending a police investigation. (Express & Star, 4 July 2016)

28 June: Gary Giles damages a car in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and shouts racial abuse. Two days later he pleads guilty to racially aggravated criminal damage and is ordered to serve a 25-day community order under supervision and pay £100 compensation and a £85 victim surcharge. (Hucknall Dispatch, 1 July 2016)

28 June: An Asian man walking in Hayes and Harlington, west London is tripped up and told to ‘f**k off home’ by two white men. (Washington Post, 29 June 2016)

28 June: A German woman, who has lived in the UK since the 70s, calls a radio show in tears saying that she has had dog excrement thrown at her door and that ‘I haven’t been out of the house for three days … My neighbours told me they don’t want me living in this road … My friend’s grandson got beaten up because he had a foreign grandmother … I’m so scared, I don’t know what’s going to happen next.’ (LBC, 28 June 2016)

29 June: Banners to mark an Eid festival in a Leicester park are defaced with graffiti including the words ‘lies,’ ‘hate’ and a swastika. (Leicester Mercury, 29 June 2016)

29 June: Racist threats are made by telephone to the African Caribbean Care Group centre in Hulme, Manchester. As a result twenty elderly people, some in wheelchairs, are evacuated from the centre, which is then closed. (BBC News, 29 June 2016 and Manchester Evening News, 30 June 2016 )

29 June: BBC radio presenter Trish Adudu and a friend are racially abused in Coventry city centre, when a cyclist tells an Asian man to ‘go home’ and then calls Adudu a ’n****r’. (Coventry Telegraph, 30 June 2016)

29 June: Esmat Jera, 26, is told ‘get out of my country’ by a man as she walks back to her office in East London. (BBC News, 30 June 2016)

29 June: A drunken man makes Nazi salutes on an eastbound District line underground train while sitting across from a woman wearing a hijab. He shouts ‘this is our country, go back’. He is challenged by other passengers. (Evening Standard, 4 July 2016)

29 June: The Manchester Evening News reports that Salford taxi-driver, Dave Greenhow, has written a letter of apology to a female customer after she complained about a ‘racist tirade’ about Brexit during a cab journey. (Manchester Evening News, 29 June 2016)

29 June: The Plymouth Herald reports that a local Polish shop has ‘Polish go back’ sprayed on its wall. (Plymouth Herald, 29 June 2016)

29 June: In Milton Keynes, a Russian man is held up at knifepoint in a robbery by three men in an incident believed to be connected to the referendum. (OneMK, 30 June 2016)

30 June: Caerphilly MP Wayne David makes reference to people with ‘coloured’ skin who run takeaways in his constituency in a BBC radio programme on Brexit. (BBC News, 1 July 2016)

30 June: A primary school child is reported under the Prevent strategy to tackle radicalisation for allegedly making comments about migrants at Teesville Primary School in Middlesbrough. (Daily Mail, 1 July 2016)

30 June: An emergency meeting in Southwark on experiences since the referendum result is told of numerous incidents, including the following: One woman’s wages were cut and when she complained ‘she was told if she didn’t like it she should go back home’. Another man was waiting for the night bus at 2am to go to work when a stranger said: ‘Haven’t you heard the news? You should have left.’ The day after the referendum another woman was switched to a zero-hours contact by her employer, who she had worked for six years. And another woman recounted how she was refused entry to a Watford nightclub and when she asked ’Is this because of Brexit?’. The answer was ‘yes’. (Guardian, 2 July 2016)

1 July: The National Police Chiefs’ Council reports that over a week 331 incidents were reported to True Vision, the police hate-crime reporting portal, compared to the weekly average of 63 reports. (BBC News, 2 July 2016) 

1 July: In Tilehurst, a taxi driver is racially abused and headbutted by a white man in his 20s who refuses to pay his fare. (Reading Chronicle, 4 July 2016)

1 July: Lord Aleem, 21, is racially abused while driving to prayers in Solihull. He is told: ‘Oi f**k off out the country P**i’. (Birmingham Mail, 1 July 2016)

1 July: A woman is racially abused in Runcorn, Cheshire. A 46-year-old man is later arrested. (Liverpool Echo, 1 July 2016)

1 July: The Croydon Guardian reports on a tongue-in-cheek video on post-Brexit racism, made by 20-year-old Nalin Dissanayake, hours after the referendum results came in, in which he walks nervously down the road holding his British passport out for inspection. (Croydon Guardian, 1 July 2016)

1 July: A woman walking through a High Wycombe park with her child is racially abused. (Bucks Free Press, 5 July 2016)

2 July: Neo-Nazi stickers are found in the Cathays area of Cardiff. (Huffington Post, 6 July 2016)

2 July: Welshman, Zane Grey, is beaten in a racist attack in Paisley because he is wearing a Cossack hat which his assailant assumes makes him an ‘immigrant’. He is told ‘Go back home, you f*****g immigrant’. (Daily Record, 7 July 2016)

3 July: A woman is racially abused and attacked while shopping at the Bridges Shopping centre in Sunderland. A 55-year-old man is later charged with racially aggravated and common assault. (Sunderland Echo, 4 July 2016 and BBC News, 4 July 2016))

3 July: A 17-year-old pupil from Pates Grammar School, Cheltenham, Chris Wang, takes part in a ‘Youth Against Brexit’ demonstration in Cheltenham and racist comments about her attendance are posted on Facebook. (Gloucester Citizen, 1 July 2016)

3 July: David Lammy, MP, is subjected to racial abuse and death threats on Twitter after suggesting parliament could block Brexit. (Evening Standard, 5 July 2016)

4 July: In Plymouth, a memorial statue to the late Labour leader Michael Foot is vandalised, and graffiti, including swastikas and references to the EDL and the BNP, are scrawled on it. (Guardian, 4 July 2016)

4 July: ITV News reports that workers at the Aga factory in Leamington Spa have been threatened with disciplinary action after ‘unacceptable comments’ were made to Eastern European workers. (ITV News, 4 July 2016)

4 July: The Home Affairs Committee launches an inquiry into hate crime and its violent consequences. Read about the inquiry here. The closing date for written submissions is 1 September 2016.

5 July: The Met police report that they have received 599 reports between Friday 24 June and Saturday 2 July, and that the referendum result had been ‘directly referenced or alluded to’ in 23 incidents. (Guardian, 5 July 2016)

5 July: The Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) says there has been a rise in racist incidents in Rugby since the EU referendum, citing stickers being put up reading ‘Kill a Muslim’, ‘Kill a n****r’ and ‘Kill all Migrants’, and a Romanian woman being racially abused on social media. (Rugby Advertiser, 5 July 2016)

5 July: Graffiti is painted on a health centre in Torquay which reads ‘EU Rats Go Home Now’. (Torquay Herald Express, 6 July 2016)

5 July: Bonfire material being collected in east Belfast has a sign with ‘foreigners out’ placed on it; it is later removed. (The Irish News, 6 July 2016)

5 July: In Derry, two men are left ‘badly shaken’ after being racially abused by a gang of  20 youth who followed them and then attacked one. He was also attacked a short while later by a girl who was also in the  gang. (BBC News, 7 July 2016)

6 July: An Egyptian family report racist graffiti on their home in Cardiff, where they have been targeted with racist abuse and attacks since April, with abuse becoming worse since the referendum. (Wales Online,  6 July 2016)

Related links

Raed about further attacks: Post-Brexit racism update

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

8 thoughts on “Post-Brexit racism

  1. The truth is people are frightened by different cultures imposing on their culture. Most migrants do not speak English which doesn’t help. The other reasons are that people witness Benefit spongers who usually have a number of kids to claim benefits and jump housing lists.With masses of migrants pouring in it is logical that certain people will react in the ways I have mentioned. decent migrants are the victims of racism

  2. Jack Adams comment reflects the predominant narrative about migration in Britain which puts the blame on migrants. What is missing here is the fact that people’s fears and perceptions reflect the atmosphere created by the politicians and the media. The dog whistle racism and the overt scapegoating of migrants communities and those who have settled here for a long time for all the ills of the country – housing crisis, NHS crisis, low wages, unemployment etc. This is a deliberate ploy to displace attention from the economic crisis and austerity.

  3. I agree with both of you. The biggest ‘supporters’ of uncontrolled immigration are usually affluent white middle class people usually living in all white affluent middle class zones, to whom diversity is a nice delicatessen at the end of a row of expensive shops or a nice Turkish restaurant. The magnanimity is really ‘it doesn’t affect us, so we don’t really care’. That never gets mentioned by a predominantly middle class media and political system.

    Middle class prejudices towards white working class people and their communities never gets mentioned. The real agenda, or one of them, is to play disenfranchised ethnic minorities off against the disenfranchised white working class. But when you have equality movements mostly filled with affluent white middle class people, are we going to hear about this? I doubt it.

    To paraphrase Jack ‘decent people are the victims of discrimination’. Please take a look at What About Classism

  4. Wanted to talk in favour of the majority of people who would not do these sort of things no matter they voted.
    People who do that are a minority which has possibly felt in the right of doing that after Brexit.
    Yesterday I was in a bus in Belfast and a man told a French-speaking couple to speak in English. They basically ignored him.
    But what I felt happy about is that once this couple got off the bus, a woman told the man how rude that had been and that he had no right to tell people the language they had to speak.
    I think that as long as people think like this woman, everything is all right.
    Ignorance is difficult to control and this is the sad part of the story.

    1. Good – I’m glad they told him off for showing his ignorance. My wife is French and I learnt French to be able to speak to my in-laws. I’ll speak whatever bloody language I like, because I can…..

  5. The killer of Labour MP Jo Cox had links with American Nazi organisations. American Nazi organisations have links with British Nazi organisations. Both of them have links around the globe. Reason for post Brexit upsurge in racism is because racists were already there, they were operating in the shadows as described in my blog. Brexit was job-done for them. The overt racism is their way of celebrating. Go to my blog for details: America cia and british death squads

  6. Thing is, white people in the UK are not frightened of ‘difference’, or of those speaking other languages and not ‘assimilating enough’ – or whatever. They get even angrier and more provoked when somebody is non-white but born, bred and completely fluent in english; plus if that person seems economically privileged and educated, has a ‘posh’ accent; and above all, if you are non white but seem to know more about british history, culture and politics (or anything ‘local’ to the British Isles) than the white person does, then that is really upsets them.

    If somebody is non-white, physically attractive, and female (ie non threatening), and isn’t with a group of other friends but is on her own – that combination above all seems to really provoke or ‘trigger’ your average whites, male or female, of any age but mostly older, and of any social class and political stance, to at least some degree of racism.

    The amount of times I’ve pissed some middle-class twat off because they insisted on starting an interrogation as to my ‘country of origin’, only to be displeased if I tell the truth (UK born and raised) is unbelieveable.

    Because I also have virtually zero in-depth knowledge of any foreign culture (especially any that people think would fit with my appearance), people who think they like foreignors (especially of my assumed ‘homeland’) often want to go on and on about the ‘exotic’ culture of my ancestors. These people, who might I add are usually complete strangers, also get really angry with me.

    It seems really rude to expect strangers to pry so much into one’s life. But when I’ve said something like that, again the interrogator gets angry with me – because apparently for thinking a thing like that./being shy and private, that makes me ‘too english’!!

    It’s bizarre. I just don’t understand why it matters to them or why people have a problem with people just cos of how they look!!

  7. While I do not support racism I do find it interesting how so many Eastern Europeans are claiming pretty much everything is racism or a hate crime. Some of the so called research above is hearsay and yet to even proven to be a hate crime/racism. Furthermore the ironic fact is Eastern Europeans are amongt the most racist people on planet earth one only need look at the conduct of V4 countries in the EU such as Hungary with a “whites only village” and concentration camps for non whites not to mention Poland which has abolished all anti discrimiantion laws. I live in London and have seen an Eastern European man spit on a black woman, I have been called a chocolate face and a variety of other names by Eastern Europeans so you will forgive me if I lose little sleep over sensational reporting and statistics that do not stand up to scrutiny.

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