In an attempt to unite against post-Brexit hate crime, Londoners have gathered at rail and tube stations on 4 July in a series of solidarity events. The show of camaraderie comes as the National Police Chief's Council confirmed a 57% rise in race-hate complaints since the UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June, with 331 incidents reported within one week of the referendum result, compared to the weekly average of 63.
Londoners gathered at more than 30 stations between 8am and 9am on 4 July as part of a campaign to stand up against racist and xenophobic abuse. Organisers London Citizens handed out heart-shaped stickers with #NoPlaceForHate printed on them, and the hashtag quickly began trending across the city on Twitter.
Canon Dr Angus Ritchie from London Citizens said: "London has a strong tradition of welcoming people from all backgrounds, which we continue to champion. The rise in incidents is extremely concerning, and so alongside displaying solidarity we urge any individual who has been impacted to report the incident to the authorities."
A number of social media networks have emerged to help people report incidents of hate crime. People have been sharing their experiences of post-Brexit xenophobia on Twitter using the hashtag #PostRefRacism, while a Facebook group created to alert people of attacks has gathered more than 18,500 members.
Esmat Jerai, a member of South London Citizens, who was racially abused earlier this week, urged people to attend the solidarity demonstrations in London. He noted that this was the chance for people to take back control of the city of London and stand up for values of respect and equality.
Jerai said: "We're not here to be labelled as victims. We're equal stakeholders of this rich and multicultural city, and are very concerned with the rise of bigotry and intolerance."
Newly elected Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has responded to the rise in hate crime, saying that he will operate a "zero tolerance approach to any attempt to hurt and divide our communities". Khan has also asked the Metropolitan Police to be "extra vigilant" in tackling the "deeply worrying" rise in attacks.
The solidarity gatherings at London's stations on 4 July come a week after a safety pin campaign against racism. Londoners began wearing safety pins to indicate that they stood in solidarity with UK's immigrants and would be willing to step in should they find themselves at the receiving end of a xenophobic attack.