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Post-Brexit hate crimes target UK-based Poles

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Unknown perpetrators have smeared racist graffiti on the building of a Polish cultural center in London. In the early hours of Monday, graffiti saying “F**k you, OMP,” and “Go Home” was sprayed on the front entrance of the Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) in Hammersmith. London’s Hammersmith district is home to a large Polish population.

Police are treating the incident as a racially-motivated crime. The graffiti is believed to be linked to Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

On Twitter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter, called the incident “an outrageous act that disgusts not only me and the Polish community but everyone in Hammersmith & Fulham.”

“We are absolutely shocked,” the head of POSK, Joanna Młudzińska, told Polish news agency PAP.

“We hadn’t expected such a reaction in London, where many Poles have been living since World War II,” she said, adding that the Polish community in the British capital is “well integrated and liked.”

Many London-based Poles are pointing to an unprecedented spike in ethnic-based hate speech since Thursday’s Brexit vote.

“Many people complain about what they hear from Britons who tell Poles to go back home,” one Polish shop assistant in Hammersmith told PAP. “We fear that a witch hunt has begun,” she added.

The slogans scrawled on the POSK building’s façade are the latest in a series of incidents targeting the Polish community after Britons opted to leave the European Union in last week’s referendum.

On Saturday, police launched an investigation in the town of Huntington, south-east England, where laminated cards reading “Go home, Polish scum” and “No more Polish Vermin” were delivered to local members of the Polish community on Friday morning.

It is estimated that up to one million Poles live in Britain, the majority of whom emigrated there after Poland joined the European Union in 2004. The Polish community comprises the largest migrant population of EU nationals based in Britain.

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