London

Thousands of Londoners join march for unity

Protestors in Hammersmith
Image caption A rally and protest took place in west London

Thousands of Londoners took part in events to show support for those who may have felt threatened or unwelcome since June's Brexit vote.

In west London the local council organised a march and rally to demonstrate unity.

And in South London a local park became a focal point for messages of support.

It comes after "racist" graffiti was scrawled on a Polish Cultural centre in Hammersmith in the immediate aftermath of the European referendum.

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Media captionLocal residents in Hammersmith march for unity after attack on Polish cultural centre

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter told BBC London Sunday's protest and rally were something that local people "wanted to do".

"It was undoubtedly provoked by a terrible racist attack on the Polish centre which is a hugely popular local institution that has been there for 50 years," he said.

"But this reflects a much wider concern that what has happened as a result of the EU referendum and Brexit is that people who previously would have kept their offensive racist opinions to themselves, a tiny minority of people, but they now feel emboldened to speak out."

Meanwhile, resident Michael Roach said he attended the protest march because he felt it was "his duty".

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Media captionHammersmith resident tells the BBC it is his duty to march for unity

He said: "There's so much division in the world that we need to come together as just one family, one world family.

"I'm here because black lives matter as well, and as a white man, an older white man,I need to show that I care for my grandchildren's future and also for my children's future and my future."

The Metropolitan Police said it received 771 reports of racial or religious hate crimes between 24 June and 5 July.

A spokesman said it did not have readily accessible statistics for the period immediately before the European referendum vote.

But in the 12 months to May reports of racial or religious hate crime had risen 13% to 14,540 from 12,864 a year earlier.

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