Calendar of Racism and Resistance – incorporating Covid-19 Roundup (8 – 22 April 2020)

April 23, 2020 — News

Written by IRR News Team

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe. 

We have incorporated the Covid-19 roundup of racism, health, policing and civil liberties into the calendar of racism and resistance, which we believe makes developments during this period clearer and easier to understand.

HEALTH AND POLICY

10 April: As it is reported that the first ten doctors to die had ancestry in regions including Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the head of the British Medical Association (BMA) calls for an urgent investigation into if and why BAME people are more vulnerable to Covid-19. 3 out of the 6 nurses to have died are also from BAME backgrounds. (Guardian, 10 April 2020)

via the guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/18/failure-to-record-ethnicity-of-covid-19-victims-a-scandal-says-bma-chief

12 April: Research by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre finds that more than a third of critically ill coronavirus patients in hospital with the virus are from BAME backgrounds. (BBC News, 12 April 2020)

16 April: The government announces that it has asked NHS England and Public Health England to lead an inquiry into the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on BAME communities, but provides no further details of the scope and timeframe of the inquiry. Politicians criticise the lack of any timeframe, and call for publication of the data on deaths of BAME patients from Covid-19, saying a failure to do so puts lives at risk. A Guardian analysis finds that 68 per cent of NHS staff who have died in the pandemic so far are BAME. (GuardianGuardian16 April 2020)

17 April: The Guardian reports that as ethnicity is not recorded on death certificates in England and Wales, unlike in Scotland, it will not be possible to provide ethnic data on those who have died from the virus outside hospitals. (Guardian, 17 April 2020)

17 April: Carol Cooper, head of equality, diversity and human rights at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, calls on the government to establish a centre for ethnic health to investigate BAME health inequalities. She believes that the system may be biased in placing so many BAME nurses and healthcare assistants on coronavirus wards. (Nursing Times, 17 April 2020)

17 April: The Guardian reports that the Filipino community in the UK is severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak as 29 people, including a Grenfell Tower fire survivor, are believed to have died from the virus while a number of others are critically ill in intensive care. Over half of those who have lost their lives were workers in the UK healthcare sector. (Guardian, 17 April 2020)

18 April: The chair of the BMA, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, calls on the government to instruct all hospitals to record the ethnicity of patients, as the past failure to record and publish real-time data on the ethnicity of Covid-19 patients is, he says, a scandal that has endangered lives. He also notes that previous research from the BMA and General Medical Council shows that BAME doctors are twice as likely not to complain about safety in the workplace for fear of recrimination or reprisals. (Guardian, 18 April 2020)

POLICING

For more information on policing and civil liberties issues follow @NETPOL @BigBrotherWatch @Covid19StateWatch and@libertyhq.

TARGETED QUARANTINE AND MILITARISED CONFINEMENT

11 April: Greek authorities lock down a Roma settlement on the outskirts of Larissa, central Greece, after 21 residents test positive for Covid-19. Health ministry spokesman Sotiris Tsiordras warns against stigmatising Roma, saying they ‘are not a threat, they are a vulnerable social group’. Residents of other Roma camps nearby are to be tested, and a migrant reception centre near Larissa is also locked down. (Ekathimerini, 11 April 2020)

13 April: A local support group for residents of the refugee reception centre at Ellwangen, southern Germany, reports widespread fear and panic among residents after almost half – 244 out of 567 – tested positive for Covid-19, and the centre is placed in isolation to protect the general public, with police preventing anyone from leaving. (Refugees4RefugeesAre You Syrious, 13 April 2020)

17 April: Compulsory quarantine measures, forcible testing, and the use of drones with thermal sensors to remotely take temperatures of residents in Roma settlement, may constitute discrimination, claims Amnesty International (AI) in a report on Bulgaria and Slovakia. Several Roma settlements in Bulgaria have been cordoned off. Separation walls have been built in Nova Zagora, Kazanlak and Sliven, with the authorities justifying this in terms of a ‘lack of discipline amongst residents’ in terms of social distancing. In eastern Slovakia, the army has been used to cordon off five entire Roma settlements, with insufficient food and medical equipment provided, seriously risking the health of the elderly and the sick. (AI press release, 17 April 2020). Read the full report here.

18 April: After an outbreak of the virus, the Italian military lock down Selam Palace, a nine-story squat in southern Rome, home to as many as 500 refugees from Africa. The army patrols all entrances and exits, and the whole area is fenced off. Citizens of the World protest. (Al Jazeera, 18 April 2020)

ENFORCING LOCKDOWN

9 April: In France, Kevin Limoucin, a 30-year-old father-to-be from Martinique, complains that in a Covid-19 control check operation outside his home in Saint-Ouen-L’Aumone, as he was checking his car in preparation for taking his wife to hospital for the birth, police pushed him to the floor, knelt on and tasered him, then arrested him for resisting. (France Inter, 9 April 2020)

9 April: Human rights barristers warn that new police online tools adopted by most UK forces to encourage the reporting of people suspected of breaching coronavirus guidelines risk fuelling mistrust and division, and that the police should restrict themselves to identifying obvious breaches of the law and not act as guardians of the government guidance, which is confused. (Guardian, 9 April 2020)

10 April: A Guardian mapping investigation suggests that Londoners living in deprived areas and those from BAME backgrounds will be disproportionately affected by park closures if lockdown measures on public green spaces are increased. At least three London boroughs have imposed partial park closures, with a further seven warning residents that parks will be closed if government guidelines are not followed. (Guardian, 10 April 2020)

10 April: Nottinghamshire police condemn vigilante groups which have set up patrols in parks to enforce lockdown. The deputy leader of Ashfield District Council says that vigilantes have been patrolling open spaces in Sutton-in-Ashfield, leading to ‘big arguments’ in parks. (Nottinghamshire Live, 10 April 2020)

11 April: Greater Manchester Police issue an apology after a video emerges revealing an officer in the Fallowfield area threatening a black man running errands for his vulnerable mother with pepper spray and arresting him for ‘breaking Covid rules’, before warning a bystander ‘you’ll be next’. (Daily Mail, 11 April 2020)

12-13 April: In Belgium, around 100 people are arrested outside Anderlecht town hall during an angry protest about the death two days earlier of a 19-year-old motorbike rider, named only as Adil, during a police chase as he attempted to evade a Covid-19 lockdown check. (Brussels Times, 12 April 2020)

14 April: The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) promises to publish fresh data on the number of fines imposed across the country as concerns grow over misuse of emergency powers. (Guardian, 14 April 2020)

15 April: The Anti-Racist Care Network in Barcelona complains that three volunteers have been fined by urban police for distributing food to 150 undocumented and destitute migrants during the lockdown, despite the network having permission to distribute food. The City Council says the fines were an error and will not be processed. (Público, 15 April 2020)

18 April: Police chiefs inundated with thousands of allegations daily of breaches of coronavirus restrictions urge the public to stop exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to settle vendettas, after forces report that many people have been ‘lockdown shaming’ as part of ongoing disputes. (Guardian, 18 April 2020)

18 April: The City Council of la Bisbal d’Empordà, Spain, suspends two local police officers without pay for trying to arrest at gunpoint two young black men who they said had breached the confinement policy. (El Diario, 18 April 2020)

SURVEILLANCE AND CIVIL LIBERTIES

Twitter: Canadian Civil Liberties Association ©

7 April: The Huffington Post reveals that the founder and associates of the US firm Clearview AI, which provides advanced facial recognition technology across the world and is selling its products as a means of tracking the spread of the virus, have longstanding and pervasive ties with the Alt Right, its funders and associates.(Huffington Post, 7 April 2020)

12 April: The Guardian reveals that as part of the government’s coronavirus response, UK technology firms are entering partnerships with US big data firms including Palantir, founded by right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel, to process large volumes of confidential UK patient information, including protected health information, in a data-mining operation. (Guardian, 12 April 2020)

PRISONS

14 April: Prisons minister Lucy Frazer tells the Commons Justice Committee that the Home Office will release up to 4,000 ‘low-risk’ prisoners and build 2,000 prefabricated cells in British prisons to reduce cell-sharing. Public Health England and the Probation Service say 15,000 prisoners need to be released to make the prison system safe during the pandemic. (Inside Time, 16 April 2020)

17 April: Almost 100 prisoners are released from Norway’s prisons to reduce crowding and the spread of Covid-19. All those released will be serving their sentences from home with ankle monitors. (The Local, 17 April 2020)

POLICING – GENERAL

13 April: The Eritrean community in Calais write an open letter to the Prefect of the town protesting the violence of the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS) police, and listing recent acts of violence committed by them. (Calais Migrant Solidarity, 14 April 2020)

17 April: Liberty, Inquest, StopWatch and the Open Society send an open letter of resignation to the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) independent Taser advisory group, claiming no meaningful action is being taken to address the disproportionate use of stun guns against BAME people. Use of the weapons rose by 39 per cent last year, as more police officers were equipped with them, and Home Office figures show that in England and Wales they were used almost 8 times as often against black people than against white people. (Guardian, 17 April 2020)

WORK AND WELFARE

8 April: The Home Office issues guidance reiterating that there will be no immigration route for workers who ‘do not meet the skills or salary threshold for the skilled worker route’. The minimum salary required is generally £25,600 (or £20,480 for those with a PhD or in a ‘shortage occupation’). (Home Office, 8 April 2020)

8 April: The Italian campaign ‘I was a Foreigner’, joined by numerous mayors and dozens of organisations, calls for all undocumented migrant workers to be granted residence permits to ensure enough workers for the upcoming harvest. (InfoMigrants, 8 April 2020)

8 April: The Spanish government authorises the temporary hiring of immigrants and the unemployed to fill the shortfall in agricultural labour. The new measures will be in place until 30 June. (InfoMigrants, 8 April 2020)

9 April: Video evidence emerges of Sean Madden, an operations manager for Bakkavor, a large supplier of fresh food to UK supermarkets, threatening staff with redundancy if they stay at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. The threat was repeated in Hindi for non-English speaking workers. (Guardian, 9 April 2020)

10 April: Call centre staff manning the NHS 111 helpline, outsourced to private firms including Sitel and Teleperformance, say they are being forced to go to work with Covid-19 symptoms, or are risking infection in unsafe working conditions, because sick pay is so inadequate. (Guardian, 10 April 2020)

11 April: The Food Foundation reports that 1.5 million people in Britain have gone for whole days without meals because they have no money and no access to food, and 3 million have been forced to do without some meals. Over a million people reported losing all their income, of whom over a third believed they were not entitled to any government help. (Guardian, 11 April 2020)

11 April: The Belgian government announces a series of socio-economic measures to expand access to the labour market for asylum applicants, giving them the right to work while their applications are being processed. The measure is designed to mitigate the reduction in work force as a result of Covid-19. (Le Soir, 11 April 2020)

12 April: Hundreds of refugee doctors are among thousands petitioning the General Medical Council to register experienced foreign doctors who have waited sometimes for years for UK accreditation, so they can use their skills in the Covid-19 crisis. (Observer, 12 April 2020)

14 April: Union leaders call on the government to fund a new £11.50 an hour minimum wage for care workers, to put them on a par with supermarket workers and delivery drivers, after the Scottish government announces a 3.3 per cent pay rise for care workers. A quarter of care workers are on zero-hours contracts and the median pay rate in the private sector is £8.10 an hour. (Guardian, 14 April 2020)

15 April: A coalition of business leaders, migrant rights and trades unions in Ireland send an open letter to the coalition government calling for the regularisation of undocumented workers, stating that ‘now, more than ever, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that we are dependent on each other’. (Irish Times, 15 April 2020)

16 April: Charter flights bring in hundreds of Romanians to work picking crops in the UK, and thousands into Germany. British farmers explain that British workers being recruited under the ‘Pick for Britain’ scheme do not have the skills of the migrant workers. (Al Jazeera, 16 April 2020; Daily Mail, 17 April 2020)

17 April: The deaths from Covid-19 of three BAME Uber drivers in just over a week expose the vulnerability of migrant workers forced to continue working in insecure and dangerous employment for lack of entitlement to benefits. (Guardian, 17 April 2020)

19 April: Over half of social care workers putting their lives at risk during the coronavirus outbreak are paid less than the living wage, tens of thousands receive less than the national minimum wage, and staff are four times more likely to be on a zero-hours contract than the average worker, according to the Resolution Foundation, which calls for an immediate pay rise. (Observer, 19 April 2020)

20 April: Nearly 80 per cent of workers facing job insecurity – cuts to hours or pay, temporary furloughs, or permanent layoffs – do not have a university degree, according to new research. People at risk include retail staff, cooks and actors, as well as construction workers and office support staff, who are twice as likely to see their livelihoods under threat during the outbreak because they work in close proximity to others and have significant exposure to the public. (Guardian, 20 April 2020)

HOUSING

12 April: Analysis by the New Policy Institute shows that the top five areas with the most overcrowding have seen 70 per cent more Covid-19 cases than the five least crowded areas, as fears grow that the infection will spread in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in which kitchens and toilets are shared, and the government is urged to make empty hotel rooms available to sick people in overcrowded homes. (Observer, 12 April 2020)

13 April: Renters’ unions call on the government to suspend rents for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, as research suggests millions are having to choose between paying landlords and putting food on the table, or have already been forced to leave their homes, and 6 in 10 renters tell a Guardian poll that they have suffered financially since lockdown began. Recent figures show that 1 in 5 UK households – or 4.5 million families – live in private rented accommodation, with a similar number in social housing. (Guardian, 13 April 2020)

15 April: Migrants’ rights charities warn that the Home Office’s three-month freeze on evictions from asylum seeker accommodation has not been matched by additional housing provision for those still entering the system, resulting in hostels becoming dangerously overcrowded and residents having to share cramped rooms and even beds. (Guardian, 15 April 2020)

17 April: Migrant support groups condemn the Home Office for its failure to provide any accommodation or support to the roughly 400 migrants temporarily released from immigration removal centres in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying they are at risk of homelessness and destitution. (Al Jazeera, 17 April 2020)

17 April: The Evening Standard reports that a homeless migrant with Covid-19 symptoms was turned away from several government-funded services before contacting east London charity Hackney Migrant Centre, which says that only after it targeted local MPs on Twitter was hotel accommodation found for him, although even then he was not provided with adequate food. (Evening Standard, 17 April 2020)

19 April: The Observer finds that at least 6 homeless people linked to hostels in London have died from coronavirus since March, triggering fears that outbreaks in crowded facilities with vulnerable people in poor health sharing bathrooms, dining rooms and bedrooms could be catastrophic. Survey results from the UCL Collaborative Centre for Inclusion Health reveal the coronavirus death rate of homeless people living in London’s hostels is 25 times higher than the general adult population. (Observer, 19 April 2020)

21 April: The Court of Appeal affirms that the Right to Rent scheme, a cornerstone of the hostile environment which requires landlords to check the immigration status of tenants and lodgers, causes racial discrimination among landlords, but refuses to declare it unlawful. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), which brought the test case, intends to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. (Guardian, 21 April 2020)

21 April: The Guardian reports that dozens of homeless people, among them many migrants not permitted recourse to public funds, are sleeping at Heathrow airport after being refused emergency accommodation by councils, despite government promises that they would be accommodated. (Guardian, 21 April 2020)

ASYLUM, MIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

ASYLUM AND MIGRANT RIGHTS

9 April: 60 charities including Freedom from Torture, Amnesty International UK and Migrant Voice write to home secretary Priti Patel and chancellor Rishi Sunak urging them to increase the weekly allowance for asylum seekers from £35 to £55 as the cost of many essential items rises due to stockpiling and panic buying. (Metro, 9 April 2020)

12 April: A month after Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urged home secretary Priti Patel to ‘significantly increase’ the number of child refugees transferred to the UK from the overcrowded, insanitary refugee camps on the Greek islands, she refuses the request. Other EU governments including Germany, France, Finland and Belgium have agreed to help transfer 2,000 children from the islands. (Observer, 12 April 2020)

@JessHarwoodArt

13 April: As prime minister Boris Johnson thanks NHS staff for saving his life, the doctors’ union, the BMA, calls on the government to grant indefinite leave to remain for all international doctors working in the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Independent, 13 April 2020)

13 April: Over 100 migrant support and other organisations in Spain petition the government for an exceptional amnesty for the roughly 600,000 undocumented migrants in the country, saying that without papers it is impossible for them to protect themselves against the virus and its health and economic impacts. (Público, 13 April 2020)

BORDERS AND INTERNAL CONTROLS

12 April: Border Force officials intercept four boats carrying 72 people from Iraq, Syria and Iran in the English Channel. The Home Office says they would seek to return anyone with no right to be in the country. (BBC News, 12 April 2020)

14 April: The Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) in the Balkans publishes a report detailing pushbacks of 165 people throughout March, a third of whom suffered collective expulsions from Greek territory, where violence at the Kastanies border crossing is increasing. (ECRE Press Review, 14 April 2020) Download the report here.

14 April: The Maltese prime minister’s office refuses to deny allegations by NGO Alarm Phone that Maltese soldiers vandalised a migrant boat stranded in Maltese waters, potentially leaving them to drown. The government has accused NGOs of ‘facilitating human trafficking’, while the head of Malta’s social welfare agency has argued that the government should seize NGO vessels and sink them. (Times of Malta, 14 April 2020)

15 April: Italy and Malta close their ports to rescue ships, and the German government calls on NGOs to cease search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, causing the rescue partnership of Doctors without Borders (MSF) and SOS Méditerranée to end, with the NGOs disagreeing on whether to continue SAR operations regardless (MSF’s position) or not. The European Commission refuses to comment on the legality of Italy and Malta’s action. (EU Observer, 15 April 2020; Deutsche Welle, 17 April 2020)

16 April: The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, states that ‘saving lives at sea and disembarking survivors in a safe port must continue’ and that ‘the Covid-19 crisis cannot justify knowingly abandoning people to drown’, after boats in distress in the central Mediterranean are ignored, despite surveillance by Frontex planes, leading to at least 12 deaths. Spanish rescue ship Aita Mari rescues migrants from one boat but has no port to take them to. The International Organization for Migration also calls on the EU to respond to distress calls. (CoE CHR, 16 April 2020; Are You Syrious, 17 April 2020)

17 April: The 146 people on Sea Eye’s Alan Kurdi are transferred, after being stranded for 12 days at sea, to the Italian ferry Raffaela Rubbatino, where they will be quarantined for a fortnight. Although their fate thereafter remains unknown, Sea Eye welcomes the transfer, as the ferry has better facilities for accommodation, care and treatment. (AYS, 17 April 2020)

17 April: Maltese civil society group Repubblika launches a legal action against Malta’s government, and makes an urgent application to the European Court of Human Rights against Malta and Italy, for closing ports and ignoring boats in distress, in violation of national and international law. (Are You Syrious, 17 April 2020)

17 April: A boat holding 17 people from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine capsizes in the river Danube near the city of Drobeta Turnu-Severin, Romania, on the Serbian border. 9 are rescued, but 1 person dies and 8 are missing. (Zeit Online, 17 April 2020)

18 April: 60 MPs from all parties join medical organisations in calling on health secretary Matt Hancock to immediately suspend the charging of migrants for NHS treatment and all associated data-sharing and immigration checks, which they say undermine the government coronavirus response and result in undocumented migrants dying of Covid-19 because they are afraid to seek help. (Independent, 15 April 2020; Independent, 18 April 2020)

RECEPTION AND DETENTION

5 April: People detained at the Moria pre-removal detention centre (PRO.KE.K.A) in Lesvos stage a hunger strike in protest at their continued confinement during the Covid-19 crisis. 4 inmates sew their mouths shut, but within hours doctors are called to remove the thread by force. Although Greek courts are ordering the release of prisoners with short sentences, those held in closed camps will not be released as they pose a ‘flight risk’, a court says. (Deportation Monitoring Aegean, 8 April 2020)

9 April: It is revealed that a man who was detained in Brook House immigration removal centre despite symptoms of Covid-19 has tested positive for the virus. Lawyers warn that hundreds of detainees remain at risk, despite the Home Office saying it would ‘imminently’ carry out reviews to release vulnerable detainees three weeks ago, and the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on immigration detention, SNP MP Alison Thewless, calls for the immediate release of all immigration detainees in the UK. (Independent, 9 April 2020; The National, 13 April 2020)

10 April: Police make arrests and use tear gas and violence against refugees conducting a peaceful protest after a 14-year-old Syrian boy was assaulted by an administrator at the Krajaca refugee camp, outside Belgrade, Serbia. Several residents are injured and two busloads are taken away from the camp to an unknown destination. (Are You Syrious, 10 April 2020)

13 April: Revolts break out in several French detention centres in protest at the inhuman conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the Vincennes and Mesnil-Amelot centres there is no access to doctors, isolation areas or protective equipment. (Are You Syrious, 13 April 2020)

Via No Borders Greece twitter

14 April: EU Commissioner Ylva Johannsson announces that nearly 1,000 vulnerable refugees are to be moved to hotels in Greece to ease overcrowding in the camps. (InfoMigrants, 15 April 2020)

16 April: As the European Court of Human Rights orders Greece to ensure the immediate transfer of several people out of Moria, Greek authorities announce that they will begin transferring 2,380 asylum seekers from the island camps to accommodation facilities in mainland Greece after Orthodox Easter on 19 April. (Ekathimerini, 16 April 2020; Refugee Support Aegean, 21 April 2020)

16 April: Der Spiegel publishes details of Greece’s plan, codenamed Agnodike, for dealing with a Covid-19 outbreak in the refugee camps. (Der Spiegel, 16 April, Are You Syrious, 17 April 2020)

17 April: Austrian campaign group ‘Close down the deportation centres’ report hunger strikes by detainees at the Rossauer Lände and Hernals centres, where they have been held for several months, despite the suspension of deportations. Visits and exercise have stopped during the pandemic. Some detainees have sewn their mouths shut. (Are You Syrious, 17 April 2020)

19 April: After a 47-year-old female Iraqi refugee who had developed a fever dies in hospital, unrest breaks out in the overcrowded Vial refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios. A fire spreads through the camp, destroying many facilities and rendering many refugees homeless. Two Afghans and an Iraqi are arrested. (Observer, 19 April 2020)

EDUCATION

11 April: A mother calls for key stage 1 children’s book Beetle and the Hamster to be removed from schools, saying in a complaint to the Department for Education that it is ‘portraying, teaching and reinforcing’ racial stereotypes. The DfE responds that the decision is for individual schools to make. Fewer than 2 per cent of children’s authors and illustrators are people of colour, according to children’s reading charity BookTrust. (Voice, 11 April 2020)

19 April: As anxious pupils and parents bombard schools with pleas to award good GCSE and A-Level grades in the new teacher assessments put in place in lieu of cancelled exams, Tom Middlehurst, director of policy and public affairs at SSAT, a school network with 3,000 members, says the parents seeking reassurance ‘are likely to be middle-class’ and warns against allowing educational inequality to widen. ‘Already with home schooling and school closures there is likely to be a long-term impact on the more disadvantaged’, he says. (Guardian, 19 April 2020)

20 April: The Metropolitan Police are to review the role of officers in schools, known as the safer schools partnership (SSP), after a legal challenge raised concerns that they could have a disproportionately negative effect on pupils from black and minority ethnic groups. Under the SSP, schools in the capital and elsewhere in the country have police officers attached to them for the safety and security of pupils and staff. In some cases, officers are permanently based at the school to enable early intervention and are believed to help forge good relationships between pupils and the police. (Guardian, 20 April 2020)

MEDIA

17 April: A complaint letter from Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) to Ofcom and Channel 4 regarding the documentary Dispatches: The Truth about Traveller Crime draws over 3,000 signatures. FFT director Sarah Mann says the programme ‘put the whole of the Traveller community on trial by press’, adding that ‘poorly researched and sensationally delivered shows like this inevitably lead to an increase in discrimination and hate crime.’ (FFT Press Release, 17 April 2020)

20 April: The IRR also lodges a complaint with Ofcom regarding the programme, citing a ‘disproportionate use of sources and the misrepresentation of statistics designed to appeal to the prejudice of viewers that will undoubtedly contribute to the further scapegoating of marginalised communities, thereby undermining community relations.’ (Twitter, 20 April 2020)

ELECTORAL POLITICS

12 April: Labour Party members demand that new leader Keir Starmer commit to ‘absolute transparency’ after Sky News reveals that Labour lawyers have advised against submitting an internal report of the party’s handling of antisemitism to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The 860-page investigation, leaked to Sky News, suggests that Labour’s attempts to deal with antisemitism complaints were stymied by senior staff hostile to former leader Jeremy Corbyn. (Guardian, 12 April 2020)

14 April: Far-right activist Lorraine Cullen is suspended from the Conservative Party for her racist, antisemitic and Islamophobic social media posts, in which she urged the reading of far-right conspiracy theories, posted videos from fascist sites and said that even the ‘nice Muslims next door hate the unbelievers’. Cullen campaigned beside Moray MP Douglas Ross and nominated failed Tory candidate Fiona Fawcett to represent Inverness in Westminster. (Daily Record, 14 April 2020)

ANTI-FASCISM AND FAR RIGHT

16 April: After calls for the public to wear masks to combat the coronavirus, German neo-nazi Tommy Frenck advertises Ku Klux Klan hooded sweaters that can be used as coronavirus masks on his ‘Druk 18’ online site. (Belltower News, 16 April 2020)

17 April: Greek police in the Athenian suburb of Korydallos clash with far-right activists, including former Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros, as they try to initiate an Epitaph candlelit procession on Greek Orthodox Good Friday in violation of coronavirus lockdown rules. (archyde.com, 17 April 2020)

18-19 April: Several hundred right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists demonstrate in Berlin against the lockdown, accusing the government of using the coronavirus crisis to create a dictatorship. (Guardian, 20 April 2020)

19 April: Reporters without borders and the OSCE representative on the Freedom of the Press calls on Greek MP Thano Tzimeros, previously associated with Islamophobic comments, to stop smearing journalist Mortaza Behboudi, who now faces online threats of violence for covering refugee issues on Lesvos. (Twitter, 19 April 2020)

RACIST HARASSMENT AND VIOLENCE

COVID-19 STIGMATISATION AND RELATED VIOLENCE

14 April: Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins speaks out against racist behaviour after a Chinese woman in the town was twice racially abused, including having two men on bicycles coughing in her face. Perkins is in contact with the police to push the investigation. (Derby Telegraph, 14 April 2020)

16 April: After the media and social media users scapegoat the Roma community in Larissa, central Greece, blaming them for coronavirus, Greece’s top epidemiologist visits the Roma settlement where 20 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, and says the ‘Roma community in EU countries should not be used as scapegoat in the current pandemic; the Greek Roma community will continue to enjoy the same healthcare as everyone else’. (Keep Talking Greece, 16 April 2020)

16 April: Two men aged 20 and 22 are arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offences after racist stickers bearing the logo of the far-right Hundred-Handers group were posted in Sheffield. The stickers claim to link migration with the coronavirus pandemic, reading: ‘Open border, virus disorder’ and ‘Pubs closed, borders open’. (BBC News, 16 April 2020)

Tin Sing in High Street, Quarry Bank (Image: Sam Cullinane)

16 April: Graffiti appears on a Chinese takeaway in Dudley, Birmingham, including ‘f*** China’ and ‘we don’t want you here, f*** off’. Dudley Council immediately has the graffiti removed, which police officers are investigating as a hate crime. (Birmingham Mail, 16 April 2020)

16 April: A family of gypsy origin in Bizkaia, Spain, denounce the continuous racist abuse that they have suffered since coronavirus isolation measures were implemented, describing racist insults and threats from their neighbours such as ‘You ****ing gypsies are passing coronavirus onto us. We are going to make your life impossible. We are going to burn you.’ (El Diario, 16 April 2020)

16 April: A Korean student subjected to a violent attack, which he believes was coronavirus-related, by a group of teenagers in Edinburgh in February, condemns police for taking two days to respond. The teenagers knocked the student’s shopping from his hand, pushed and punched him and kicked him in the face, then assaulted a couple who tried to help. (Edinburgh Live, 16 April 2020)

16 April: Police attend the Makkah Food Store in Poole after a woman in her 40s waiting in line to browse some items in the store was subjected to racist abuse by a man in his 70s. Police treat the attack as a racially aggravated public order offence. (Bournemouth Echo, 18 April 2020)

17 April: Racist graffiti about coronavirus and China are found on the front of an electric roadside enclosure positioned next to a ‘road closed’ sign in Harborne, Birmingham. Local MP Preet Gill says the graffiti ‘must be called out as racist’. (Birmingham Mail, 17 April 2020)

18 April: Suffolk Police appeal for witnesses following a racially aggravated assault at Hadleigh Fast Food. After the victim, a man in his 50s, asked a man to observe social distancing, the attacker became abusive, trying to stop the victim leaving the shop and then trying to slam the door onto the victim’s leg. (Suffolk Police, 18 April 2020)

20 April: Analysis of posts across Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp by Birmingham City University shows online Islamophobic ‘fake news’ stories and racist memes are being shared in relation to coronavirus. Fake theories include: mosques are responsible for the spread of Covid-19; Muslims are super-spreaders of the coronavirus; police give favourable treatment to Muslims for fear of accusations of racism; and Muslims are not observing social distancing rules. (Birmingham City University, 20 April 2020)

VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT – GENERAL

10 April: A Muslim man is targeted by two assailants who dump rubbish on his doorstep, post bacon through his letterbox and try to break into his Southsea home. (Portsmouth News, 15 April 2020)

10 April: An investigation is launched into a ‘distressing’ verbal attack towards an Asian woman in Nottingham. (Nottingham Post, 10 April 2020)

14 April: Police investigate a fire started in the early hours of Monday 13 April, that devastated 67 shacks and forced 200 people to leave their homes in the migrant settlement of Huelva, Spain. Investigators believe that the fire may have been started deliberately. (Público, 14 April 2020)

18 April: Racist graffiti are found scrawled over a mural featuring Leeds boxing hero Nicola Adams. The woman finding the graffiti, who works for Leeds City Council, covers over the words herself. (Yorkshire Evening Post, 21 April 2020)

18 April: Patrick Asomugh, a Nigerian priest in western Germany, has been moved for his own safety from his parish in Queidersbach, near Kaiserslautern, after receiving a racist death threat that he says was the final straw. Racist comments have repeatedly made against him in church, and the tyres of his car have been slashed. (Deutsche Welle, 18 April 2020)

The calendar was compiled by the IRR News team with the help of Aisha Rana-Deshmukh, Laura Wormington, Jessica Pandian, Graeme Atkinson and Joseph Maggs.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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