Perpetrators don’t represent ‘welcoming’ NI, says man who has lived here over eight years
A man who found racist graffiti on his home has spoken out against the “hatred” of those behind it.
Joe, a video editor and director, made the discovery after returning to his home in Greymount Parade in north Belfast at around 1am on Friday.
The racist message, using a highly offensive word, was spray-painted on a wall.
Police said the incident is being treated as a hate crime.
Joe, who did not want to give his full name, has lived in the area for two years, and has lived in Northern Ireland since he was in primary school.
He told the Belfast Telegraph he was confused and saddened by the incident.
“I came home, and I was just so confused. I’m the only one who lives here, but I have family around sometimes. I was like: ‘What’s going on?’” he said.
“I took video and pictures. I was confused at the start. I thought it was a fake, but then the police got involved, so now I’m just processing it.”
Joe speculated that it was a premeditated crime carried out by people who knew he wasn’t home.
“They waited until I wasn’t there. It’s people I know... because obviously they knew that my car wasn’t there. They kind of knew my movement. They were watching me, definitely, over the past while,” he said.
PSNI figures show that hate crime in Northern Ireland is on the rise.
Its latest crime bulletin, covering the 12 months to April, shows there were 1,334 racist incidents recorded by the police here - 341 more than the previous year.
The number of racist crimes recorded by the police was 931, an increase of 213 on the previous 12 months.
Joe said it was important to bring the graffiti to people’s attention, to let them know that hate crime is still happening.
“I have three kids and they’re here most weekends. I’m trying to let them see [the graffiti] because I’m meant to have them this evening. That’s why I haven’t got rid of it, because I want them to see it,” he added.
“It’s why I’m talking to the press at all, because I want people to know that it’s not right.
I want people to know that it’s not right. For people to know that it still happens in 2022. We thought it was all over, that it doesn’t happen anymore, but it's unfortunate.
Joe continued: “I just want to make sure that my kids know that someone spoke up at some point on this small island. There’s a lot of people not speaking out, so I want to speak for some people that can’t speak up.
“I’ve lived here for so long, and I know there are just some people that want to tarnish a certain image. No one can tell me Northern Ireland is a racist place, it’s not. They welcome everyone. I know some people can be hateful and, when they can’t do anything to get to you, they’ll do things like this.
“I know my people don’t feel any hatred. We really appreciate the opportunities this country brings, and I don’t feel like the community just don’t want me here.
“For them to be confident to do something like this, there must be hatred inside them. There must be a grudge, something so deep in them that they can’t come and talk to me like a man. I live here by myself, so it’s not like they see me here with so many people. It’s confusing, there’s no reason for it to happen.
“Black people are not bad people. I’m human like everyone else. I work, I’ve gone to school here. What more could I do to make them feel like I’m part of the community?”
A PSNI spokesperson added: “There is no place for hate in our communities and police are appealing anyone with information, or those who may who knows the identity of the perpetrator or perpetrators, to come forward and speak with us.
“Officers can be reached by calling 101, quoting reference 90 01/07/22, or online via our non-emergency reporting form.
“Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”