Hundreds of people from all over Belfast gathered last night against recent racist attacks in south Belfast. Many spent the night keeping watch outside a house of the victimised Romanian families.
Between 200-300 people were estimated to have been in attendance at the protest, called at very short notice on the Lisburn Road in south Belfast. The crowd were protesting against the recent upsurge in racist attacks in the south Befast area, which have concentrated in the last week on three houses where Romanian families live.
One house in Belgravia Avenue was attacked by crowds of up to 15 on three separate nights, with police response times being hours later, and in one case, lunchtime the next day. The police have been heavily criticised for their failure to respond to the numerous calls the family and concerned residents had placed. The residents have since abandoned the house. Families at two other houses on Wellesley park and Wellington Park had also been targetted, with reports of one house being threatened with a gun, that family had also chosen not to stay in its house last night. The crowds that had gathered to attack the houses have been reported to have been posting literature containing passages from Hitler's Mein Kampf.
During the protests last night several youths attacked the protest with bricks and bottles and were pursued by protestors toward The Village area, an area that has in recent years experienced a high number of attacks on migrant workers from the African continent and eastern Europe. It is not known who is orchestrating the violence but when those attacking the crowds returned later in the evening shouted slogans in support of Combat 18 and claimed that they would be 'coming back'.
Protestors kept a watch outside one of the houses, which now contained the residents of the vacated properties. Supporters stayed all night, some taking turns in shifts to stay outside the home with members of the Romanian families. It is expected that protestors will remain at the house in Wellesley Avenue while these families still feel under threat.