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Recent rise in racist attacks

Recent newspaper headlines have focused on the recent rise in racist abuse and harassment directed at Chinese and South East Asian communities. Police have recorded a sharp increase in hate crimes against Chinese people during the coronavirus outbreak, newly published figures show.

The number of offences reported in the first three months of 2020 has almost tripled compared to the same period for 2018 and 2019.

Between January and March, when the Covid-19 pandemic was intensifying within the UK, at least 267 reports of hate crime were made across the UK.

The harassment ranges from abuse on public transport and Chinese owned take-away businesses, racist graffiti on shop windows, abuse and racist stereotypes online as well as physical violence on the streets or around international student hostels.  

Responding to the publication of the figures Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the national policing lead for hate crime, made it clear "no one is responsible for the outbreak and everyone has a right to be protected from targeted abuse".

Stop Hate UK operate a 24 hour helpline where hate crime can be reported. They have issued a statement making it clear that viruses and infections don’t discriminate; the coronavirus outbreak is not about ethnicity, and such associations are totally unacceptable.  

What the statistics don’t tell us is what it feels like to be the victim of racist abuse. Those who experience hate crime say it has a devastating effect on their lives making them feel anxious, frightened, depressed and angry.  

The ‘Monitoring Group’ a leading anti-racist charity that monitors racist abuse, harassment and violence and supports those that have experienced it have shared the following experiences that help to illustrate the long lasting and serious harm racism causes:

A young student from Singapore was spat at on the underground by a member of the public. She stated nobody came to her assistance although she was shouting for help. Now she is terrified to go out wearing a mask (which is for her protection) because this will make her more of a target for further attacks. So, to ‘protect’ herself she will not go outside without her flat mate.

In another call to their helpline a woman cried as she talked about her experience of being racially abused when she was outside (taking regular permitted exercise) during the lockdown. She has quite severe mental health problems and since the incident has chosen not to go out as she is so scared of a repeat. A man swore at her, blocked her path and called her a ‘monkey’. This is impacting on her mental health. The daily exercise helped with her health symptoms and now she feels this option is not available to her for fear of attack. 

Usdaw activists have a long history of standing in solidarity with workers who experience racism and standing together against hate, making our streets, communities and workplaces safer places for everyone.

Visit Usdaw’s Together Against Hate campaign page to find out more about what hate crime is, how to report it and to download campaign leaflets and a poster that you can display in your workplace.

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