As the world continues to reel from the impact of Britain's decision to leave the European Union, there has been fallout of a very disturbing kind within the UK itself: an uptick in reports of racist and anti-immigrant incidents.
Inspired by the "Leave" campaign's not-so-subtle stoking of xenophobic, anti-immigrant sentiments, bigots across Britain have apparently felt empowered to bring their racism into the open.
"I've spent most of the weekend talking to organizations, individuals and activists who work in the area of race hate crime, who monitor hate crime," former Conservative Party chair Sayeeda Warsi told The Independent. She continued:
They have shown some really disturbing early results from people being stopped in the street and saying look, we voted Leave, it's time for you to leave. And they are saying this to individuals and families who have been here for three, four, five generations. The atmosphere on the street is not good.
The types of incidents Warsi described have been documented and posted across social media, and offer a firsthand look at the tense atmosphere on the ground in the U.K.
In the town of Huntingdon, local media reported that small signs reading "Leave the EU. No more Polish vermin" were distributed outside of local schools in the hours after the Brexit vote result was announced.
In London's Hammersmith district, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the E.U., the words "Go Home" were spray painted across a local Polish community center, the Evening Standard reported.
On Facebook, a page titled "Worrying Times" has ballooned with dozens of similar examples of racism. Its 7,500 members are encouraged to post their own documented examples of post-Brexit racism, and report any incidents to the proper authorities.
"These are dark and dangerous times," the page explains. "But hopefully we can spread some awareness and help keep each other safe."
Already, the page is full of chilling examples of the pernicious bigotry following in Brexit's wake. One commenter wrote:
I've been living in Sheffield for almost 22 years. I am half German and French and came to this country to study and stayed as I always felt very welcome…until yesterday afternoon.
I was driving my mothers car which has a German number plate; was suddenly tailed by a car with 2 in individuals who shouted while overtaking on a residential road: "go home you f#####g German". I felt threatened and angry at the same time, as this outpour of hate is beyond comprehension. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING??!!
Another commenter shared an example of the blatant bigotry thrown at him while grocery shopping.
Walked through Tesco today, in silence as usual. Picked up the milk I was there for and went to the register. I wanted a bag, so instead of the self checkout, I went to the till (the local Tesco only have the 10p bags at the self checkout).
When I got to the exit, [a] woman raced her stroller past me, and as she walked past she turned to me and said "Well, time for you to pack and go back to Poland now, ain't it?" and walked on.
Plot twist: I'm Swedish, not Polish!
Elected officials from every major party in Britain issued statements of condemnation in response to the reports. In London, newly-elected mayor Sadiq Khan wasted no time in taking a hard line against those who would fall back on racist xenophobia following the Brexit vote.
"In every corner of our city, including those few areas where the majority voted to leave, people of all nationalities, races and religions live cheek by jowl, in harmony," Khan told reporters. "I say to them all you are, and you will continue to be, welcome in London and in all our communities. As Mayor, I take seriously my responsibility to defend London's fantastic mix of diversity and tolerance"
Outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron also addressed the incidents while speaking in Parliament on Monday.
"We have a fundamental responsibility to bring our country together," he said explained. "In the past few days we've seen despicable graffiti dobbed on a Polish community center. We've seen verbal abuse hurled against individuals because they're members of ethnic minorities. Let's remember these people have come here and made a wonderful contribution to our country. We will not stand for hate crimes or these kinds of attacks. They must be stamped out."