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driving out hate

16 October 2020

driving out hate

Last year there were over 105,090 hate crimes reported in the UK - 72% of these were race hate crimes   

This week is National Hate Crime Awareness Week and we don’t believe that it’s a coincidence that it’s held every year during Black History Month.  Hate crimes are crimes committed against someone because of their race, religion, belief, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault, bullying, or damage to property. 

Throughout history, Black people have stood up against racial hatred. Take Martin Luther King, an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Speaking about racial hatred he famously said: 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

He was instrumental in advancing the rights for Black people through non-violence and civil disobedience - changing thinking and behaviour. Yet despite this, he himself was a victim of a hate crime when he was assassinated. 

Jump forward to today and, sadly, racial hatred is still part of our society, with hate crimes increasing year on year for the last five years. This is a shocking and deeply saddening fact.  

Some argue that this demonstrates progress in that people now feel able to report these incidents when previously they would have gone unreported.  What is clear is that racial hatred still exists in our communities, people still hold such strong beliefs around who they think people are based on their race, that they are motivated to commit crimes against them.  

 

There is hope 

Stop Hate UK is a national charity that works alongside local strategic partnerships to tackle Hate Crime and discrimination, encourage reporting and support the individuals and communities it affects.  

They provide a toolkit to help improve local responses to Hate Crime and an alternative for people who do not wish to report Hate Crime to the police or other statutory agencies. Providing independent support and information, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. 

The organisation was set up in 1995 as a service for victims of racial harassment in response to the murder of Stephen Lawrence, a black British teenager who was stabbed to death in an unprovoked racist attack by a gang of white youths at a bus stop south-east London, while travelling home with his friend.  

The case was a watershed moment, exposing cultural attitudes to race and highlighting the black community’s relationship with the police. The murder led to changes in the law and sparked further reviews, including the landmark Macpherson inquiry in 1999, which concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service was institutionally racist. If you have not watched it, I recommend watching the BBC documentary The murder that changed a nation. 

In 2006 the Stop Hate Line was launched in response to recommendations from The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, 1999  which said all possible steps should be taken by Police Services at local level in consultation with local Government and other agencies and local communities to encourage the reporting of racist incidents and crimes. This should include the ability to report at locations other than police stations; and the ability to report 24 hours a day.

The Patron of the charity is Stephen’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE. In the years that have followed Stephen’s death she has fought for justice, taking on the establishment to bring about real change and reforms of the police service. She founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust which transforms the lives of young people and as Patron of Stop Hate UK she has helped to advance the reporting and prosecution of hate crimes in the UK. In 2003 she was appointed to the Order of the British Empire in recognition for her services to community relations.  She was later created a Life Peer. 

Black people have always made history and always will

The families of Stephen Lawrence and Martin Luther King, like many others throughout history, know the deep personal loss and pain that racist hate crimes cause.   

 

take action 

We believe that the ties that bind us together will always be stronger than those which divide us and try to break us apart. We all have a responsibility to take action against anyone who attempts to spread hatred and division amongst us.  This week as part of National hate Crime Awareness Week – take a stand against hate crime.  As Martin Luther King said only love can drive out hate.  

 

support  

If you see or know somebody affected by hate crime it’s important to support them. Let them know they aren’t alone and that they have a friend. This could be simply checking they’re ok, or you may want to support them to report the incident. Nobody should feel alone when they have received abuse for being themselves. 

 

challenge 

The most common types of hate crime that you are likely to witness will be verbal and online. You can challenge an offender by telling them you don’t agree, or that they shouldn’t speak to anybody like that. But only ever do this if it is safe to do so. Never put yourself in harm’s way or in a dangerous situation. 

Online hate crime may be easier to challenge, but don’t get into an argument. Instead challenge the view or post a positive message of your own.  

 

report 

Whenever you witness any sort of hate crime, report it. If a person is in danger or the hate crime is happening at that moment call 999. 

If it is not an emergency, phone the police on 101. If there happens to be a police officer around when you witness a hate crime, speak to them. 

If you see or are the victim of a hate crime you can report it online here.​​​​​​​ You can also visit the Stop Hate UK website for advice, support and reporting. 

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