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Brexit Vote Triggers Increase in Racist Attacks

  • Cecily Hilleary

Police officers leave the Polish Social and Cultural Association after graffiti was painted on the side of the building calling on Poles to leave the United Kingdom, in Hammersmith, London, Britain June 27, 2016.

Police officers leave the Polish Social and Cultural Association after graffiti was painted on the side of the building calling on Poles to leave the United Kingdom, in Hammersmith, London, Britain June 27, 2016.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron reached out Monday to reassure Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo about the safety of Polish migrants in the UK following a wave of reports of verbal abuse and racist intimidation against them.

Workers at the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith, West London, arrived at work last week to find obscene graffiti on the building's front door.

Residents of the Polish community in Huntingdon, near Cambridge, found racist messages in their mailboxes and on doorsteps.

The Polish embassy has expressed shock and concern, and it has urged migrants who experience or witness acts of xenophobia to contact authorities. Meanwhile, London's Mayor Sadiq Khan has asked Scotland Yard to be "extra vigilant."

Islamic and other religious and ethnic groups also are reporting an alarming increase in verbal abuse since Britain last week voted to leave the European Union.

Some observers link that decision to racist and nationalist sentiment they say has been encouraged and exploited by politicians — particularly U.K. Independence Party head Nigel Farage and former London mayor Boris Johnson.

British citizens came out in force on Twitter and in other social media outlets, however, to distance themselves from racist sentiment and denounce acts of anti-migrant intimidation.

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