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Southend businesses unite to support National Hate Crime Awareness Week

18 Oct Southend businesses unite to support National Hate Crime Awareness Week

Shop workers, local entrepreneurs and the town’s Mayor joined members of Essex Police to say that there is no place for hate crime in Southend-on-Sea.
National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2019 got underway on Saturday 12 October and runs until this Saturday (19 October). To help raise awareness, and show its commitment to creating an environment in the town centre where hate crime becomes a thing of the past, Southend Business Improvement District (BID) commissioned London-based artist Roo to paint an eye-catching and fun mural, featuring a rat and lion, on the High Street.

During the week, Southend BID invited people who work along the High Street to show their support and write their own messages to reassure residents and visitors that everyone is very much welcomed, valued and appreciated.

Among the many people joining the Mayor, Councillor John Lamb (right top), were Anthony Tomassi, who owns Tomassi’s restaurant (right bottom), Josh a member of Southend BID’s Street Rangers team, Superdrug’s Jodie Huchett and Sam Mands from Waterstones.

National Hate Crime Awareness Week (#NationalHCAW) was officially launched in 2012, following a series of vigils that had begun in 2009. They were organised in response to the appalling homophobic abuse and beating unconscious of Ian Baynham in Trafalgar Square, in September 2009.

After two weeks in a coma, Ian died from the injuries he sustained in the unprovoked attack. The first vigil was one of the first events of its kind to go viral on social media, with over 29,000 people sharing it on social media and more than 10,000 people attending the inaugural gathering in Trafalgar Square.

The London vigils took place between 2009 to 2012, inspiring similar events across the UK, including Brighton, Kettering, Milton Keynes and Norwich.

A hate crime is typically one that involves violence or a form of abuse that is motivated by hostility or prejudice on the basis of a person’s race, ethnicity or nationality, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, or disability.
Any episode, which may or may not be a crime, that the victim or any other person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards any aspect of someone’s identity is termed a hate incident.

“Quite simply, if you think it is a hate crime, it is,” states Southend BID Manager, Suzanne Gloyne. “Whatever you are abused for being, if you call the police they will respond. If you have been affected by hate crime, please report it because it really does make a difference – to you, your friends and your community.”