Residents of Winchester tower block on Vauxhall Street found a number of racist posters on the morning of ‘Brexit Day’, January 31. The posters, titled “Happy Brexit Day” which were left in the communal areas of the building, demanded that residents speak only “the Queen’s English.” It went on to say, “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.”
All the posters were eventually removed by caretakers, but not before some residents had photographed the sign and posted it to social media. On Twitter, UEA Professor Ben Garrod said, “nothing justifies this. Norwich is an open, inclusive place; this hateful crap needs to be dealt with.” The resident who discovered the posters asked to remain anonymous but said he had reported the incident to Norwich City Council where it had been reported as a hate crime.
In response to this, a spokesperson for the council 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.”
Residents held an anti-racism protest over the posters. A resident, speaking to The Guardian, said during the protests: “We all thought it was absolutely disgusting. There is a fire door on every floor and there was a poster on each one. It was outrageous.”
Hugh Stanners, from the Norwich branch of Stand Up to Racism, who organised the demonstration, said: “It is a really nasty racist poster, obvious from someone who is far right or fascist, because it talks about ‘infecting our once great island’. It appears to me the far right are gaining confidence, or seeing an opportunity, from us leaving the EU. People are very upset about it. It wouldn’t be right to portray it as a lone nutter. I think they are part of an organisation.”