Thousands of residents joined Hammersmith & Fulham Council to celebrate the borough’s rich cultural diversity and stand in defiance against racism.
Led by H&F Council Leader Stephen Cowan on Sunday, the fired-up marchers set off from Shepherds Bush Green at noon. The vocal throng included families and pensioners wielding ‘March Against Racism’ placards and progressed down Goldhawk Road through Hammersmith and into Ravenscourt Park.
They marched to the chant of ‘Hope Not Hate’, with cars and buses honking their horns in encouragement.
“In recent weeks too many of our friends and neighbours have been confronted by racist and xenophobic incidents,” said H&F Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Sue Fennimore.
“I’ve heard far too many stories recently where local residents were asked why they are still here, told to go home, told we voted for you to leave and worse. But that is just not the borough we are – and it certainly is not the country we are going to become.”
The full-voiced march was followed by a rally in Ravenscourt Park with a wide range of speakers, including leading figures from charities, politicians and campaigners. They included Wiktor Moszczynski of the Polish and Cultural Association in King Street and Lord Alf Dubs who was saved from the Nazis by the Kindertransport.
They were followed by a full afternoon of music, dancing and food from across the globe, with headliner and reggae legend Sweetie Irie providing some of the biggest smiles from the celebration.
One of the main talking points was the common outrage of the racist graffiti attack on the Polish Centre in King Street on June 26, among a nationwide rise in racist incidents since the EU referendum result on June 23.
“Whether you are young or old, black or white, straight, gay or transgender, whichever part of Hammersmith & Fulham you live in, work in or socialise in, this borough is your home, Cllr Fennimore added.
“A home that is compassionate and caring, that is inclusive and safe and a home that will not tolerate hate and division.”