PARLIAMENT ROUNDTABLE ON RACISM & HATE CRIME
House of Commons | Committee Room 10 | Westminster | SW1A 0AA London | United Kingdom
Monday, 16 April 2018 from 14:00 to 17:00 (BST)
22nd April, this year, marks the 25th anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. The parliamentary forum will chart a remarkable journey over this period – from the senseless and brutal murder to the BREXT state – to tackle racism in the UK.
Official reports continue to acknowledge increases, often dramatic and dangerous, in hate crimes. Sadly, violent racism continues to form the overwhelming majority of hate crimes reported to the police. In 2016/17, there were 80,393 offences recorded by the police in which one or more hate crime strands were deemed to be a motivating factor. This was an increase of 29 per cent compared with the 62,518 hate crimes recorded in 2015/16, the largest percentage increase seen since the series began in 2011/12. 62,685 (78%) were race hate crimes.
The trends are deeply worrying not only for the targeted communities who have to live with the impact of racist discrimination, harassment and violence, but also for the rest of society.
It is widely regarded that the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the subsequent family oriented campaign triggered a sea change in attitudes over race in the UK. Sir William Macpherson’s Inquiry examined the circumstances of Stephen’s murder, on April 22 1993, as well as the litany of police failures, and took credit for overhauling Britain’s race relations legislation that created the strongest battery of anti-discrimination powers and policies in Western Europe. In fact, the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, said that he hoped it would prove “a watershed in attitudes towards racism. I want it to act as a catalyst for permanent and irrevocable change, not just across our public services, but across the whole of society…We must make equality a reality…The pervasive, open racism of the fifties and sixties, the pernicious, sniggering racism of the seventies, eighties and nineties is gone”.
Unfortunately, Straw’s promise now sounds hollow. The BREXIT campaign was wholly anti-immigrant in nature and fuelled by xenophobia and racism and it consolidated far right thinking in mainstream British politics. Although the spike in hate crimes during that period was initially thought to be a short-term problem, the latest reports, however, indicate a long-term trend. More alarmingly, that period also witnessed racially motivated murders on British streets of a Labour politician and migrants. We must now read the signals and prepare for the future.
Although those in power are quick to condemn the worst excesses of far right violence, however there is no policy to deal with the State and institutional forms with serious consequences for victims and their communities as illustrated by the cases of Mr Ebrahimi in Bristol and the ‘Rotherham 12’ in South Yorkshire.
Bijan Ebrahimi: Mr. Ebrahimi, 44, was punched and kicked to death in 2013 by his neighbour Lee James, who had deliberately labeled him as a paedophile. James and another neighbour dragged Ebrahimi’s body to a green in front of his home in Brislington, south Bristol, doused him with white spirit and set fire to him. James was jailed for life. Last year an official murder review concluded that Avon and Somerset police and Bristol city council wrongly perceived Bijan Ebrahimi, as a troublemaker rather than a victim and sided with his white abusers. More information can be accessed on this case by clicking on the following link: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/18/bristol-refugee-murder-review-finds-police-institutional-racism-bijan-ebrahimi
Rotherham 12: All 12 Asian men have been acquitted (10 last year and the remaining 2 last month) of serious charges after attending a counter demonstration against the fascist Britain First organisation in September 2015 after the racist murder of 81year old grandfather Mushin Ahmed in Rotherham. At the trial, the jury heard that it had been one of a long line of far-right 15 demonstrations held in the town in the aftermath of the child sex abuse scandals uncovered in 2012. A 2014 report by Prof Alexis Jay concluded that failures of political and police leadership had contributed to the sexual exploitation of 1,400 children by Asian men in the town over 16 years. The legal case and the campaign was run on the issue of self defence and police failures to protect a besieged and demonised community and set a precedent for communities resisting both racism and fascism on their doorsteps. For further information on the case please click on the following link: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/16/asian-men-far-right-rotherham-cleared-violent-disorder
This meeting will focus on the pervasive nature of racism in contemporary Britain, its motivating factors, and how we challenge the problem effectively. It will hear from individual victims, key community organisations and campaigns that are involved in anti-racist struggles, as well as well-known researchers and academics. It will examine the response of state agencies in the current climate. Importantly, the forum will also discuss what policies and practices that need to be changed in order to halt the intensifying nature of racism.
Contributors include: Imran Khan QC (solicitor for Baroness Lawrence), Dr Aaron Winter, Tony Murphy (solicitor for Bijan Ebrahimi family), The Monitoring Group, Institute of Race Relations, Migrant Rights Network, JAWAAB, Northern Ireland Race Equality Council, Society of Black Lawyers, Rotherham 12 Campaign and others to be announced.
The meeting has been organised by The Monitoring Group with help from Naz Shah, Member of Parliament for Bradford West. For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that the entry to the meeting is strictly via prior booking. To reserve your seat, please fill in the eventbrite page. You will then receive an email from us confirming your booking. Due to security arrangements, entry into parliament can take time, please ensure that allow yourself at least 40 minutes to gain entry into the House of Commons and the walk to the Committee Room.