Last week’s vote for Britain to exit the European Union, also known as the Brexit, not only wreaked havoc on global financial markets but also brought along a violent surge in race-related incidents and hate crimes all across the region.
Racist and xenophobic graffiti has suddenly appeared all across the United Kingdom — including on the entrance of the Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) in west London. Although authorities since washed off the message and refrained from confirming the precise wording, many claim it read, “Go home.”
The largest population of foreign-born people living in the U.K. is from Poland.
In a similar incident, some hooligans allegedly distributed cards reading, “Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin” in English and Polish in Huntington, Cambridgeshire, mere hours after the Brexit results.
Police are currently investigating the incident.
these cards have actually been put through letter boxes of Polish families in Huntingdon today. I could weep pic.twitter.com/P3maK1Vasf— fencelt (@howgilb) June 25, 2016
“[Like] many Polish people in the country I feared the EU referendum result would cause an increase in intolerance, discrimination and racism, but I didn’t think it would become so aggressive and be so immediate,” Agata Brzezniak, who was born in Poland but has lived in the U.K. for eight years, told The Independent.
So far, Polish people seem to be experiencing the worst of the repercussions.
Disgusting RT @fionaand: Older woman on the 134 bus gleefully telling a young Polish woman and her baby to get off and get packing.Horrific.— ChannyAmos (@Channy_Amos) June 25, 2016
Hammersmith Polish Club opened 1967. Existed peacefully & unhindered for half century. Until last night, when daubed with message 'go home'.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) June 26, 2016
Over a hundred such incidents have been reported so far and immigrants are worried about their safety.
Been standing here five minutes. Three different people have shouted "send them home". pic.twitter.com/cVvmYvC73o— Ciaran Jenkins (@C4Ciaran) June 24, 2016
"Table next to me says to Polish waitress "How come you're so cheerful? You're going home." Him and the missus started laughing." Disgusting— Jamie Pohotsky (@jamiepohotsky) June 24, 2016
People with other nationalities have also been attacked:
Italian person I was w/ last night was assaulted for asking how someone voted. Knocked out w/ a bottle, lost a tooth, stitches. I'm scared.— Kirsty Allan (@kirstyrallan) June 26, 2016
Social media has begun documenting the incidents of racial abuse and hate crime with the hashtag #PostRefRacism — and needless to say, it’s really disturbing.
A Facebook album “Worrying Signs” is also compiling such events.
This weekend I and my family have witnessed 3 "when are you going home?" Racist incidents aimed at EU citizens here.— Adam Boulton (@adamboultonSKY) June 26, 2016
Moreover, Muslims, and people who look remotely like them, also found themselves at the receiving end of hate and racism following the decision to exit EU.
This evening my daughter left work in Birmingham and saw group of lads corner a Muslim girl shouting "Get out, we voted leave". Awful times— Heaven Crawley (@heavencrawley) June 24, 2016
Last night a Sikh radiographer colleague of mine was told by a patient "shouldn't you be on a plane back to Pakistan? we voted you out" 😞— Dr. M. Ali Abbasi (@drmaliabbasi) June 26, 2016
So less than 20 hrs after Brexit results announced, I have the pleasure of being called "a Paki c*nt in a suit" by a homeless man.— Banking Buddha (@TheBuddhaSmiled) June 24, 2016
The spike in hate crime coincides with former Conservative Party leader Baroness Warsi’s decision to campaign against the "divisive and xenophobic" Brexit movement.
“I've spent most of the weekend talking to organizations, individuals and activists who work in the area of race hate crime, who monitor hate crime, and they have shown some really disturbing early results from people being stopped in the street and saying look, we voted Leave, it's time for you to leave,” she said. “And they are saying this to individuals and families who have been here for three, four, five generations. The atmosphere on the street is not good.”
Labor MP Jess Phillips has also put forward a query to Parliament, demanding to compare the incidents of racial hatred reported over the weekend to before the referendum.
I will be putting in a parliamentary question to find out all incidents of racial hatred in the UK this weekend compared with last week— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) June 25, 2016
It is a terrifying situation that, unfortunately, only seems to be getting worse.