NEWS
01/02/2020 14:20 GMT | Updated 02/02/2020 12:24 GMT

Neighbours' Horror As Racist 'Happy Brexit Day' Posters Put Up In Norwich Tower Block

The anonymous note has been reported to the council and police as a hate crime.

Anonymous
The 'Happy Brexit Day' poster

A racist “Brexit Day” poster demanding that residents speak the “Queen’s English” has been posted on “every floor” of a Norwich tower block. 

The poster, which had been put up in the communal areas of Winchester Tower block in Vauxhall Street, bears the title “Happy Brexit Day”.

One resident, who photographed the poster and reported it, told HuffPost UK he had first noticed it early on Friday morning – the day Britain left the EU – before it was taken down by the block’s caretaker.

The words hail the return of “our great country”, and go on to explain “one rule that needs to be made clear” – speaking English within the tower block. 

The anonymous author adds: “If you do want to speak whatever is the mother tongue of the country you came from then we suggest you return to that place and return your flat to the council so they can let British people live here and we can return to what was once normality before you infected this once great country.” 

The horrified resident – who asked to remain anonymous – said the incident had been passed onto Norwich City Council, where it had been reported as a hate crime, and had also logged it with Norfolk Constabulary.

People from the city were swift to condemn the racist missive.

“Nothing justifies this,” wrote Professor Ben Garrod, of the University of East Anglia, on Twitter. “Norwich is an open, inclusive place; this hateful crap needs to be dealt with.”

A council spokesperson said: “Norwich has a proud history of being a welcoming city, and we will not tolerate this behaviour.

“As soon as we were made aware of this incident, we reported it to the police and they are investigating.

“We take this very seriously and urge residents to contact us or the police if they have any concerns.” 

A Norfolk Police spokeswoman confirmed on Sunday that officers had attended the Winchester Tower on Saturday evening and found that all the posters had been removed. Police collected posters saved by residents for forensic enquiries, and officers are working with the council to examine CCTV footage.  

The spokesperson added: “There is no place in society for hatred and intolerance. Nobody should have to face intimidation because of who they are and it is more important than ever that we stand together in the face of hostility. We remain committed to helping people feel safe and secure as they go about their lives.

“The matter is being dealt with as a racially aggravated public order incident and anyone with information which could help officers with enquiries should contact Norfolk Police on 101 quoting crime reference 36/7964/20.”

The resident, who has lived in block for around six years, said the flats had in recent years become home to several eastern European families.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “The block has always generally felt like a pretty friendly place. But in recent years I’ve heard more racist things being said, I think people feel emboldened now. 

“I’ve overheard people saying things like: ‘It’s gotten worse since the eastern Europeans moved in,’ and that sort of thing.

“It’s really worrying, because it feels like it’s only going to get worse as time goes on.” 

A picture of the poster was reposted online publicly by another Twitter user, where, with the official moment of the UK’s departure from the EU just hours gone, it was met with horror.

“It’s scary knowing that people feel emboldened to say this kind of thing openly, knowing it’s going it’s going to be seen by some of the European residents who live here,” the resident said. 

“As soon as I reported it the council took it really seriously and told me it had been reported as a hate crime.

“I’ve seen a lot of responses to the tweet picking at the grammar, calling them ‘thick’ or whatever, but it’s not about that – that’s not how we’re going to tackle this. 

“You’re not going to win anyone over by correcting their spelling, there needs to be action and actual conversations going on.”

Are you a resident of Winchester Tower, or have you seen similar incidents around the official Brexit date? Please get in touch by contacting sarah.turnnidge@huffpost.com.