A teenager lies in a hospital bed this morning in a “serious but stable” condition, after being battered in a vicious attack by a racist mob, an attack which had terrible overtones of the kind of brutal assault which saw Stephen Lawrence killed on the streets of south London 24 years ago.
Friday night’s attack, which took place near The Goat pub in Shrublands, began – as with Stephen Lawrence in 1993 – near a bus stop as the victim, a 17-year-old, a Kurdish Iranian, was simply waiting to travel home.
Much of the incident was captured on CCTV near the Shrublands estate, and has resulted in the police quickly making six arrests on suspicion of attempted murder and violent disorder. Scotland Yard said that those arrested are all from Croydon: three men, aged 20; a 24-year-old woman, a 24-year-old man, and a 20-year-old woman.
Eye witnesses have told Inside Croydon that the attackers they saw were all white. It was suggested that the mob may have been made up of as many as eight people.
Detectives continue to appeal for information and witnesses to the attack, which is being treated as a suspected hate crime.
Yesterday, local politicians spouted the usual platitudes about being proud of Croydon’s diversity. MP for the area, Gavin Barwell, called the attackers “scum”. There will be a vigil today at 2pm in the town centre, organised by the campaign group Stand Up To Racism.
Though whether any of that can reverse the institutionalised intolerance and ignorance which exists just below the surface in post-Brexit Britain, where migrants have been made scapegoats for the economic failures of politicians and big business, has to be open to doubt.
The teenager had been waiting at a bus stop in Laurel Crescent with two friends around 11.40pm on Friday when approached by a group of people.
Police say he was asked where he was from, and when he told them he was an asylum seeker, they chased and attacked him.
The teenager is reported to have sustained serious injuries to his head consistent with being punched and kicked repeatedly. Only the intervention from others saw the assault ended and help called from the emergency services to the scene on Shrublands Avenue.
DS Kris Blamires from Croydon CID said: “A number of people came to the aid of the victim as he lay unconscious and injured following the assault.
“The suspects are believed to have made off in the direction of The Goat pub, Broom Road, following the attack.
“I would encourage all those who came to his aid and those in the immediate area who witnessed the attack or saw the males leave the scene to get in touch.
“All communities stand together against hate and we would ask anyone with any information to come forward immediately.”
There remains deep concerns about the impact that the notoriety of such an attack might do for the area. On Town Hall source said, “This is very bad for the town. It’ll bring back all the negativity about Croydon that followed the riots in 2011.”
One community figure in Shirley, living near where the attack took place, said that there are a number of refugees living on the Shrublands estate, but that they were not aware that there had been any problems previously. “I am shocked,” they said. The attackers, they said, “must be outsiders trying to stir trouble. I feel safe in the estate”.
Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call Croydon CID during office hours on 020 3276 2234 or via 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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