Racially Motivated Attacks Post Sharp Increase Throughout Britain : Hate crime: Anti-fascist groups say increased activity by right-wing groups may lead to violence.
Racist attacks are increasing in Britain, and many of those fighting extreme right-wing groups fear that violent retaliation by blacks is not far off.
“We have an explosive situation in Britain and we should not be complacent,” says Marc Wadsworth, national secretary of the Anti-Racist Alliance.
“Black people will not stand by and be slaughtered. They have a right to fight back and they will.”
Racially motivated attacks rose to around 7,800 in 1991 from 4,400 in 1988, police figures show.
Anti-fascist groups say the figures understate the problem by a factor of 10. They say up to 11 Britons were killed in racial attacks last year.
Blacks and Asians have been verbally abused, racist slogans were sprayed on their homes and burning rags and excrement pushed through their mail slots. Places of worship have also been attacked.
Twice during the 1980s Britain was shaken by violence that originated from racial conflict. A policeman was hacked to death in north London in 1985, four years after bloody riots in several areas of Britain.
Anti-fascists say many of the reasons for the 1981 riots are present today--high unemployment, gangs of young people with time on their hands and increasing activity by extreme right-wing groups in areas with large black populations.
Racial attacks have spread recently into rural regions such as Norfolk in the east. But the West Midlands, which has a large Asian population, and London remain the problem areas.
Blacks blame the opening of an office by the British National Party in Welling, southeast London, for a series of violent attacks and murders in the capital.
The Metropolitan Police say racist incidents in the capital rose to 4,500 in the 12 months to June, 1992, from 2,900 in 1990. Recently an elderly man died in an arson attack on the home of a Bangladeshi family on the 12th floor of a 14-story east London building.
“It is evident there is a large number of people who are racists. They are not part of an organization but are influenced by the wider racism of our society,” said a spokesman for the Campaign against Racism and Fascism.
“There is almost a subculture of violently racist sections of our youth which become a recruiting ground for fascists.”
The spokesman declined to be named. Fascist groups in London have printed telephone numbers and addresses of known opponents in their newsletters, encouraging attacks on them.
“Whenever we hold a meeting, the next day we come to our offices and they are plastered with racist posters,” said Makhan Bajwa, director of the Council of Racial Equality in Greenwich, which neighbors Welling.
In areas of London, where one in five members of the work force is unemployed, many youths are being seduced by the idea that black immigrants are “stealing” white jobs.
“The first casualty in a recession is equal opportunities, and the minorities are made the scapegoat,” Bajwa said.
Official figures show that of those aged 16 to 24 in Britain, 17% of whites 39% of Afro-Caribbeans and 44% of Pakistanis are unemployed. Minority ethnic groups make up 5% of Britain’s 55-million population.
The fear and anger in minority groups is increased by a general perception that the British police are racially biased.
Anti-fascist groups say police behavior ranges from ignoring racially motivated attacks to verbal abuse to wrongful arrest and violence against blacks in custody.
Michael Condon, the new Metropolitan Police chief, said in February that any intolerance by his officers was unacceptable.
Anti-racist groups greeted his words with skepticism.
They point to a series of court cases where sentences of black people were overturned on appeal because of doubts about police evidence. One group member said a third of his time was spent investigating claims of police harassment.
“The problem is at rank-and-file level. Daily we get racism from the extreme right and police officers as well. They really do have to put their house in order,” Wadsworth said.
Faced with what they see as police indifference, blacks and Asians are forming self-help groups aimed at monitoring and acting against police and racist excesses.