Calls for unity after racist attacks in Sheffield
Calls for unity have made in Sheffield following a series of alleged hate crimes in the city following the referendum result.
Sheffield charity bosses have reported incidents of staff being racially abused, while police have confirmed details of a number of racist attacks across Sheffield and South Yorkshire in the past few days - but say reports of hate crimes are actually down on the same time last year.
Seven hate crime incidents have been recorded by South Yorkshire Police between June 23 and June 27, including a racially-aggravated assault in Sheffield and an assault occasioning actual bodily harm in Doncaster.
A further incident of racially-aggravated harassment has occurred in Sheffield, along with another racist incident in the city where people were ‘put in fear of violence’.
Two further incidents of racially-aggravated harassment have occurred in Doncaster, with racially-aggravated criminal damage reported in Rotherham.
Police said they were unable to provide any further information about the incidents or whether any arrests have been made, but said in the same time period last year there had been 16 hate crimes recorded.
Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh has written to the force urging them to be vigilant about racist abuse after a rise in hate crimes was reported nationally following the referendum result.
She said: “I want people across our city worried about this to know, whatever your creed or colour, you are every bit as welcome in Sheffield as you have ever been. You have every bit as much a right to be here as I do and we all value the fantastic contribution you make to our city.
“Nobody has any right whatsoever to treat any people in our communities with hate.”
A post by a Sheffield woman on Facebook said: “I have been told to leave this country more times in the last 24 hours than in the 17 years I’ve lived here.
“This referendum has given a mandate to racists and xenophobes to come out loud and proud.
“England and Sheffield have broken my heart.”
Fiyaz Mughal, director of the Tell MAMA organisation, which records incidents of anti-Muslim abuse, has said it has been informed of 36 racist incidents across the country since the referendum result.
One happened in Barnsley on Friday when a man was told to leave the country.
Mr Mughal said the majority of comments being made since Friday across the UK in such incidents appear to be along the lines of ‘We voted out, why are you still here?’
He said racists feel ‘emboldened to say something’ in the wake of the result.
“The Brexit vote seems to have given courage to some with deeply prejudicial and bigoted views that they can air them and target them at predominantly Muslim women and visibly different settled communities,” he said.
“This is unacceptable and further polarising and especially worrying when our 2015 annual findings are showing some young white males between the ages of 13-18 being radicalised by extremist far right narratives.”
It comes as Sheffield charity bosses called for unity after stating there had been a ‘noted increase’ in hate crime incidents across the city since the referendum result.
At a meeting organised by Voluntary Action Sheffield, Cavendish Care chief executive Chris Farrell told The Star two Healthwatch staff from BME backgrounds were verbally abused at an event last weekend.
He said: “While the outcome was not one we necessarily anticipated, this really isn’t a Brexit/Remain issue, but it is one where we need to celebrate and recognise diversity across Sheffield and the importance of bringing the city together at this time.”
Dr Jack Czauderna of the Darnall Health and Wellbeing Board raised issues around Roma Slovak care in the community workers who felt ‘upset and distress’ around the EU referendum result and the potential backlash.
Sheffield community cohesion expert Mike Fisher said many people who voted for Brexit will have felt like they had been ‘left behind’ feeling it ‘couldn’t get any worse’.
Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for communities, said: “What’s clear from the referendum result is Sheffield is a divided city.
“We now face huge challenges as a city and one of these challenges is cohesion in our communities from divisive campaigns running up to the referendum.
“There are cohesion issues in Sheffield and the rest of the UK and we must now come together.”