A dramatic spike in race hate crimes since Brexit has caused an upset Norbiton mother to speak out after three incidents in three days.
Hannah Clarke, who is half-Nigerian, was forced to explain to her eight-year-old daughter what the ‘n word’ meant after other children used it at an after-school club last Wednesday.
Her experiences come as the Metropolitan Police revealed there have been 599 incidents of race hate crime between the EU referendum result and July 2.
“I’m so upset and angry and frustrated and horrified,” Ms Clarke said. “It’s just awful.”
The new report shows that the Met were receiving an average of 67 allegations a day in the wake of the Leave result.
“I believe in the goodness of people, I believe that good will prevail, but unfortunately that’s what a lot of people thought before the referendum — they thought sense would prevail,” said Ms Clarke.
“Within a week, we’ve suffered racism here in Kingston even where the Remain percentages are really high.
“I’ve been absolutely distraught about it.”
The first incident occurred on the morning of Wednesday June 29 when a Somalian family friend of Ms Clarke’s was walking along her road in Kingston.
“Some guy shouted ‘England’s taking its country back, go home’,” Ms Clarke explained.
“She’s been brought up in south London. She hasn’t had this in such a long time.”
Just hours later, Ms Clarke’s daughter returned from a sports activity where a group of children had asked her if was offended by the term ‘n*****’.
Her daughter did not know what it meant but was assured ‘don’t worry, we don’t mean you.’
“They must have recognised it was something damaging to say otherwise they wouldn’t have asked her if she was offended,” Ms Clarke said.
“We’ve now had to have a conversation about the word n***** in our family which I never thought in a million years I was going to have to do.”
Just two days later Ms Clarke’s Swedish friend was verbally abused for talking to her husband in Swedish while shopping in Raynes Park.
“Somebody screamed at her to F-off back to her own country as we’ve now left the EU,” she said.
“It’s just been unbelievable.”
Last week the National Police Chief’s Council stated there had been a 57% rise in reported incidents across the UK since the EU Referendum.
It is thought the Leave result triggered an increase in hate crimes and community tensions.
Kingston and Surbiton MP James Berry has spoken out against the surge in attacks, addressing David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday June 29.
“There are many EU nationals living and working in Kingston who are here lawfully, working hard and paying their taxes,” he said.
“The UK, and London in particular, is the best example of a tolerant, multi-ethnic country in the world.
“We have the laws in place to tackle hate crime and the police and the CPS must ensure that any allegations of hate crime are investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.”
In the meantime, Ms Clarke has been counselling friends on how to deal with racial incidents and has reported those she has experienced to both the police and members of relevant staff.
“People shouldn’t underestimate it, if someone just throws a comment at you in the street, that’s just the beginning of it,” she said.
“We just have to take as much action and talk to as many people as possible.”
For Ms Clarke the recent reports have been a reminder of growing up in 1970s Essex where she experienced a lot of verbal and racial abuse.
After moving to London she had not encountered any issues since her early 20s and did not expect to ever again.
“I’m healed and I’m over it,” she said. “To be back in this position, now it’s all about taking action and making sure it’s stamped out.
“We need to stand together as a community and support each other.”
Councillor of the Norbiton ward Linsey Cottingham has stated a Safer Neighbour Team is in operation in the area, as well as 11 Neighbourhood Watch schemes.
“I’m pleased to say it has been absolutely totally dead quiet and I hope it lasts like that,” the leader of the Labour Group said.
“Anyone experiencing cases like this should call the police.”
We have changed the name in this article to allow anonymity
Image courtesy of Casey Muir Taylor, with thanks