A school for Spanish children in London seems to be among the targets of an outbreak of racist graffiti that has appeared in the days running up to and following the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom.
“Foreign pack” was discovered scrawled on the gate of the Vicente Cañada Blanch Institute in London’s upmarket Notting Hill neighborhood last week.
“This is a disagreeable incident, we have no idea who it could have been,” said the school principal, María Isabel Martínez López, who saw the graffiti the day before the EU in-out referendum on June 23.
The mood has changed, and this is just another example
Patricia Rodríguez, parent-teacher association
A photograph of the scrawl soon appeared on a number of parent and student WhatsApp groups, prompting Fran Pereira, whose children attend the school, to report it. “I went to the police with the photo. The next day they went to the school, but it had been covered up,” he says, adding: “The Brexit campaign has been very heavy about rejecting anything foreign. Their win has emboldened them and we are now a bit fearful: we don’t feel safe.”
The head of the school said security cameras would now be installed, while cautioning: “We shouldn’t give this any more attention than it deserves.” Police patrols in the area are to be stepped up, while local residents sent a bouquet of flowers to the school expressing their solidarity.
“The mood has changed, and this is just another example,” says Patricia Rodríguez of the school’s parent-teacher association. Next year the school intends to change its uniform to incorporate a Spanish flag, a move that has worried some parents.
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“It will make it easier to identify our children as foreigners, and we’re afraid they may be attacked as a result,” says Juan Miguel Garrido, and who believes the school has not taken the matter seriously enough.
The National Police Chief’s Council says that it had seen a 57% rise in reports of racism on June 23 and in the four days following the referendum.
A Polish woman who preferred not to give her name said that she had been insulted in Dover city center by a man who overheard her talking in Polish on her phone, telling her she should speak English. “I’m afraid for the future of my child,” she added.
English version by Nick Lyne.