Racism & Prejudice Alive & Well in Shepway? You Decide.

The mainstream press do not tell you about the Traveller Catholic men’s group that collects thousands of pounds to help the homeless. The successful discrimination cases against pub chains. The Gypsy copper who started an association for Traveller police officers. There’s good and bad in everyone. Isn’t it about time the rest of society recognised it?

No doubt we’ll be slated, but we need to talk about the group of travellers who the Kentish Express report “have taken over a town centre park today.” The language used implies there isn’t any space left on the 15. 6 Acre park. Well there is plenty of space left as you can see from the picture below.

folkestone2

 We note with absolute dismay most of the comments are stereotypical and tinged with an element of prejudice & racism. Here is a flavour of what some have said.

abzere107 writes:

“BEWARE OF THE MINI CRlMEWAVE— SHOPLIFTING, GARDEN SHEDS, MOTORS AND BOB A JOBS ! !”

AllingtonStew3 writes:

“I’m not sure they’re genuine doasyoulikeys, that flatbed isn’t fitted with the requisite MDF greedyboards…and there’s no sign of any dags.”

To give voice to the travellers who have arrived on Radnor Park we went and spoke to them on the basis of anonymity. They told us the following:

A mother was followed by a store detective when she visited a local supermarket. “It’s like he’s decided that I am playing with him,” she told us. “He stopped me and when he couldn’t find anything stolen in my bags – he looked at me like, ‘You got away with it this time.’ It’s humiliating. I have never stolen anything in my life.”

A Traveller man told us: “I have had enough. I have suffered from it (prejudice/racism) all my life, I don’t want my children and grandchildren to suffer from it as well.” “We did try to get on a site but were asked to leave.  What are we to do? Where are we to go?”

Image result for gypsies win fight against wetherspoons

There have been Gypsies/travellers in Britain for 500 years, but settled and travelling communities have yet to find a way of living together.

“Discrimination against Gypsies and Travellers by the public, the police and other authorities is “common across Britain”, according to a damning report by the UK’s human rights watchdog which warns the groups are among several being “locked out” by society.”

Institutional discrimination reflects widespread public prejudice. A MORI poll in 2013 found that a third of people admitted personal prejudice towards Gypsies and Travellers. In polite conversation, racism towards Gypsies and Travellers is accepted in a way that it would not be towards other groups. The press reflects and reinforces these attitudes. Controversial encampments and incidences of criminality are given disproportionate coverage, whilst leaders of travelling communities a rarely given a platform from which to respond. In general, a stereotyped image is presented of Gypsies and Travellers as dirty, work-shy and criminal.

The facts and figures are stark. Nine out of 10 Gypsy and Traveller children have suffered racial abuse, and two-thirds of children from Traveller groups have also been bullied or physically attacked. And the comments on the Kentish Express website appears that the newspaper tolerates this form of racism and stereotyping. We’d ask them to remove these unhelpful comments.A 2004 report from Stonewall listed some common prejudices: “It was argued that these groups did not conform to the system by paying taxes, they had a reputation for unreliable business practices and they did not respect private property. They were also criticised… for not belonging to a community and allegedly having a negative impact on the environment: for example, they are unsightly, dirty or unhygienic.” And the comments made on the Kentish Express’s website mention all of the above so even 12 years down the line, myths perpetuate.

Persecution and the Travellers community. Photo by G. Blake via Flickr. Used Under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

If you must know, the vast majority of Gypsies and Travellers live on legal sites – mostly private, not public – or in houses, and pay taxes and rent just like everybody else. As the rest are effectively homeless, you could hardly expect them to pay for local services. They are not offered any – not even the most basic waste disposal.Accommodating minorities with very different lifestyles and values to the majority is complex both morally and practically. But Gypsies and Travellers have been in the UK for hundreds of years and they will remain for hundreds to come. It is unacceptable that any minority should fall so far below the level of the majority in health and education. The tensions between the settled and travelling communities must be resolved, and in order to do this the prejudices of the settled majority must be acknowledged and tackled.Shepway District Council are ‘monitoring’ the site, whatever that means. The Police say it is a civil matter and the commentators on the KE website demonstrate that prejudice/racism, is alive and well.So we move them along, to where? To become who’s “problem” next? Rather than deal with the problem, we ignore it, push it away, sweep it under the carpet. Is this acceptable? And should the Kentish Express allow such prejudicial/racist comments on their website in the 21st Century?Shepwayvox

 

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6 Comments on Racism & Prejudice Alive & Well in Shepway? You Decide.

  1. Shameful response by our community. Just remember that the Gypsies of Europe were registered, sterilised, ghettoised, and then deported to concentration and death camps by the Nazis. Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 Gypsies were murdered during the Holocaust – an event they call the Porajmos (the “Devouring”).

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  2. You, Shepway Vox, state ‘There’s good and bad in everyone’ which is most probably true. However the Gypsy/Traveller community do themselves no favours having been labelled ‘Bad’.

    II have experience of two vacated locations where the detritus left behind has been phenomenal. The most intriguing aspect being the number of empty Propane canisters left behind. These canisters carry a hefty deposit premium or must be exchanged for full units. One could wonder how the originals were obtained.

    I used to work with a Retained Firefighter who claimed that their Standing Orders prevented them entering a Gypsy encampment without Police support.

    I, somewhat naively, agreed to a ‘cold call’ offer to re-model my driveway by a Gypsy outfit. Needless to say the work was way below the standard I specified and agreed to by the Gang Boss who signed my specification with an ‘X’. When I refused to pay until my specification was met I was threatened with ‘The IRA’. Summoning moral support from some of my beefier aquaintances seemed to change their mind and the problem was addressed.

    Whilst driving one of my Trucks I was taking a statutory break near Wingham when I was approached by a pair of Travellers who claimed that they were almost out of Diesel and asked if I could assist to get them to the nearest garage. Thinking that I could be of help I agreed to them syphoning a gallon or so from my tank. It was only after that I turned back on that I found they had taken roughly £50 of fuel. Interestingly I spotted this same team in Wiltshire several months later. I reported the matter to the Police but as it didn’t concern Speeding, Parking or Drunk Driving, they chose to sit on their hands.

    You claim that the Gypsy/Traveller community are getting a bad Press. My experiences say ‘NOT’.

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  3. Your photo of a Caravan showing graffiti is not that of a ‘Traveller’ van. Insufficient chrome.

    I know, and understand, these people. They do not get bad Press, they get accurate Press.

    Your attempt at a sympathy vote is miss-directed. I have Chapter and Verse of incidents perpetrated by the ‘Traveller’ community which are neither legal or moral.

    This is not a Race issue. Gypsies/Travellers are not a Race.

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  4. Oh dear!!! I have just rewritten Asial’s contribution replacing the word “gypsy” with the word Jew and Jewish and it really brings home how offensive his comments are. In fact, they might be in breach of legislation inciting racial hatred. However this is not an invitation to censor Asial. It’s good for people to see how some people “think”.

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  5. Appreciate your comments PC, however my experiences are factually based whereas the persecution of the Jewish Race are based on rhetoric. Also I would direct you to research the experience of the Romanian nation under Comunist rule where the Gypsies were allowed free reign to carry out their nefarious activities and the mayhem brought.

    I do not condemn any group so long as they give at least a nod to the laws of the land they chose to live in. Perhaps you think otherwise.

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  6. PC, you seem somewhat quiet, where is your debate?

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