Community unites to reject racist thugs

By Ciara Quinn

A Nigerian man who was verbally and physically assaulted in what is being treated as a racist attack says he and his family have no choice but to move from their home in the Sliabh Dubh estate after the gang threatened to burn his house down.

36-year-old Ade (we’re not using his full name) was on his way to his job as a security guard in the nearby Springfield industrial estate on Monday night at around 6.40pm when he was subjected to a verbal and physical assault by a group of four to six racist louts near the Maple Villa apartments, situated near the entrance to the estate.

He told us: “I was passing by and they kept calling me names saying, ‘Black man, you should go home to your country.’ I said, ‘Excuse me, there is no call for that, calling me names just because I am a different colour.’

“It wasn’t my fault I was born this colour. This is where I live with my family, where my two-year-old daughter goes to creche, so I felt I had to say something to them.”

Ade said that when he took his mobile phone out to call his wife the abuse got worse.

“They thought I was calling for the police. They shouted at me, ‘We are going to burn your house down’ and shouted about running over me and my daughter in a car if they see me pushing the pram. I tried to back off and showed opened palms but they came at me and it was then that the punches started.”

Ade’s wife told the Andersonstown News that when she came to see what was happening the gang nearly knocked her to the ground with her two-year-old daughter in her arms,.

“I was trying to stop the attack,” she said. “I squealed to a taxi man to help me and we had no option but to call the police. I didn’t know where to turn to.”

Ade said that after he was knocked to the ground the gang beat him around the head and hand with a bottle.

“It’s terrible and I was terrified,” he said. “I’ve been living here four years and this is the first time anything like this happened to me.

“I want to thank the good people who came out to help me, who have sent a get-well-soon card and have spoken out and supported us. The local Councillor Steven Corr came with me to the hospital and I got treatment.

“I work 7pm to 7am. I’m paying my bills, I’m paying taxes and contributing to the economy. My focus was on going to work. It saddens me that this has happened here.”

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey described the attack as “cowardly and senseless”.

“It saddens me that a man was subjected to a racist attack and set upon by a number of men in West Belfast while he was on his way to work simply because of the colour of his skin,” he said. “This attack needs condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

A public display of support for Ade and his family was organised on Tuesday night outside the family home by the West Against Racism Network (WARN). Speaking on behalf of the campaign group, Sara Boyce said: “We are shocked and angered that this racist attack happened on a man on his way to work. This community has recently taken part in citywide marches and rallies on two consecutive weekends demanding that racism be eradicated from our society. There can be no place nor acceptance of racism in our community.

“We welcome the statement from MP Paul Maskey and action by local community leaders and commend Councillor Steven Corr for accompanying the victim to the hospital for treatment.

“People came out on Tuesday night to show their support for this man and his family but also to display their absolute opposition to racism in any form It is not enough to sit at home watching news reports of racist attacks and say ‘That’s terrible, I’m glad I’m not a racist.’ You need to go beyond being non-racist to being anti-racist – you need to actively challenge racism, whether it’s racist jokes in school or the workplace or disgraceful attacks such as this.”

SDLP Councillor Tim Attwood said that racist attacks have no place in the city and those behind them will be rejected by the community.

“This racially motivated attack on a man in the Slieve Dubh area is totally unacceptable,” he said. “Violence fuelled by intolerance has been a blight on our society for over 40 years. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI said a 19-year-old man has been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

Two other males, aged 32 and 25, also arrested in relation to the incident, have since been released on bail pending further enquiries.

 

 

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