There has been a significant rise in hate crimes since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union last week, according to local media — which is probably not a surprise given the blatantly xenophobic campaigning of Leave supporters.
The Independent reported Tuesday that there have already been over 100 incidents of racial abuse and hate crimes since the U.K. voted to leave the union last Thursday. A Facebook album called “Worrying Signs” has compiled reports of the incidents throughout the country — from personal threats and attacks to vandalization of cultural centers. Polish and Muslim communities in particular have faced the brunt of many of these attacks, but it’s certainly spread beyond that as well.
On Tuesday, a group of men in Manchester shouted racist slurs at another passenger on the tram and told him to “get deported.” One of the men shouted “Get off the tram right now, bro I will waste you… Don’t chat shit when you’re not even from England!” before throwing a drink on the passenger.
Greater Manchester Police called it a “disgusting display of abuse which quite frankly has no place in society.”
Multiple eyewitness reports have found similar incidents of racial abuse. Channel 4 News journalist Jon Snow reported Tuesday that a woman speaking Spanish on the phone was harassed in the street.
Young woman in the street stops me to tell me she's just been verbally abused for speaking Spanish on her phone
— Jon Snow (@jonsnowC4) June 28, 2016
BBC journalist Sima Kotecha reported being called the slur “Paki” by a man she was interviewing, who then proceeded to insist he wasn’t actually racist.
In utter shock: just been called p**i in my home town! Haven't heard that word here since the 80s..!
— Sima Kotecha (@sima_kotecha) June 27, 2016
The full exchange can be heard below, courtesy of BuzzFeed News:
Unknown iFrame situation
MAN: I think all the immigrants, they should leave the country, you know what I mean?
KOTECHA: So are you talking about Eastern Europeans?
MAN: Yeah, I’m not saying Pakis. I’m saying like all of them, do you know what I mean?
KOTECHA: Did you just say “Pakis?”
MAN: No, I don’t mean, sorry, love.
KOTECHA: That’s offensive.
MAN: Yeah I know, I didn’t mean for it to come across… They’re not foreigners. We all believe we’ve got the same hearts, just different-colored skins, do you know what I mean?
KOTECHA: So do you not like Asians either?
MAN: No, I do like Asians. I’m not racist.
KOTECHA: But you just used the word “Paki.”
MAN: I know I used “Paki” but I could have come out with more offensive… I’m not like that. I’m not racist at all in any shape or way…
And in what could be the most violent hate crime since the U.K. voted, on Tuesday, a man walked into a halal butcher store in Walsall and threw a Molotov cocktail, seriously damaging the shop. The police are currently investigating whether it was a racially motivated assault.
— I Am Birmingham (@IAmBirmingham) June 28, 2016
The spike in crimes is no surprise given that Leave supporters often made their case through xenophobic and racist language, rather than serious conversations about the economy or the refugee crisis facing Europe, two issues of concern to many U.K. citizens and residents. As the U.K. economy continues to suffer from the vote to leave the union, and Leave supporters walk back many of their promises about how leaving the E.U. would good for the British economy, it’s clear that sadly, the xenophobic rhetoric is all that has remained. It’s also further proof of how easily racism and xenophobia have replaced the efforts of politicians and ordinary people alike to tackle very serious political and economic challenges — and not just in the United Kingdom.
The reports of crimes have gotten so bad that on Tuesday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged the U.K. to prevent further hate crimes and xenophobic abuse and persecute those responsible. “Racism and xenophobia are completely, totally and utterly unacceptable in any circumstances,” Zeid said in a statement expressing his concern about reports of hate crimes since the referendum last week.