People have been reporting incidents of racism believed to be fuelled by the result of the EU referendum, including alleged racist graffiti on a Polish cultural centre in London and cards reading “no more Polish vermin” posted through letterboxes and outside a primary school in Cambridgeshire.
Suspected racist graffiti was found on the front entrance of the Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) in Hammersmith, west London, early on Sunday morning.
The Metropolitan police confirmed they had been called to the cultural centre on Sunday morning and were pursuing inquiries related to “allegedly racially motivated criminal damage”.
Neither POSK nor the police would confirm the content of the message, which has since been washed off.
Greg Hands, Conservative MP for Chelsea & Fulham, condemned the act on Twitter as “an unspeakable crime” and “indescribably awful”, adding:
The incident comes as Cambridgeshire police are investigating reports of racist laminated cards being distributed in Huntingdon on Friday in the hours after the leave result was announced.
According to reports from the Cambridge News, a number of cards saying “Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin” in both English and Polish were found outside St Peter’s school by teaching assistants and students, including an 11-year-old Polish child, who reported they made him feel “really sad”.
Cards bearing the same message were posted around a number of properties, police confirmed.
Labour MP Jess Phillips announced on Twitter that she would be putting in a parliamentary question to find out the numbers of reported instances of racial hatred in the UK in the weekend following the Brexit vote, compared with last week.
In Gloucester, Max Fras said he was in a Tesco supermarket on Friday night with his young son when a white man became agitated in the queue for the checkout and began yelling: “This is England now, foreigners have 48 hours to fuck right off. Who is foreign here? Anyone foreign?”
Fras said the man began quizzing people in the queue about where they were from. “He pointed at another gentleman in front of him and said: ‘Where are you from, are you Spanish? Are you Italian? Are you Romanian?’ And he said ‘No, I’m English’,” said Fras.
Fras, a Polish consultant in European educational projects who lives in London, said he was concerned about what incidents like this might mean for those like him who have moved from the EU to Britain.
Other reports of racist incidents believed to be fuelled by the Brexit result, were posted on social media, including one from Heaven Crawley, a research professor at Coventry University, about an incident allegedly witnessed by her daughter in Birmingham.
“This evening my daughter left work in Birmingham and saw [a] group of lads corner a Muslim girl shouting ‘Get out, we voted leave’,” she posted on Twitter.
Welsh businesswoman and remain campaigner Shazia Awan was told by Warren Faulkner to pack her bags and go home after she expressed disappointment in the leave result. Awan, who was born in the UK, tweeted a reply that in her view the “campaign was vile and racist” and had “ruined [the] country forever”.
Earlier that day, Faulkner had celebrated the referendum result as a “major victory for the right wing, adding: “Oi Muslims pack your bags”.
Many of the reports of incidents seem to show the mistaken belief that EU citizens living in the UK will be forced to leave the country as a result of the referendum result, with instances reported of a Polish woman being told to get off a bus and “get packing”, of a Polish man being told at an airport that he “shouldn’t still be here, that we had voted to be rid of people like him”, of a Polish coffee shop worker being jeered at and told “you’re going home now” and of Polish children at a primary school crying because they were scared of getting deported from Britain.
Jamie Pohotsky tweeted:
In a photograph published to Twitter, one man in Romford was shown wearing a T-shirt reading: “Yes! We won! Now send them back”.
Channel 4 journalist Ciaran Jenkins said that while reporting from Barnsley on Friday in the hours after the referendum results were announced, he overheard three different people shout “send them home” in five minutes.
A man wrote on Twitter that he had experienced two “racialised altercations” in the 10 hours after the referendum result, which he believed were connected to it. One alleged incident involved men chanting “Out, out, out” at Muslim women and in another he said a man at King’s Cross station “yells ‘Brexit’ in my south Asian friend’s face”.
Courtney Wright wrote on Twitter on Friday that her mother witnessed “a group of people verbally attack a Polish woman telling her to fuck off back to her own country and that ‘we’ve won’”.