Wednesday 21 February 2018

Mum's terror as race-hate gang attacked her house in rampage

Ruzena Lakatosova, from Slovakia, with her family
Ruzena Lakatosova, from Slovakia, with her family
Racist graffiti

Chris Kilpatrick

A mother-of-two has told of her terror after a gang paint bombed her home during a racist rampage in east Belfast.

So badly shaken by the ordeal, Ruzena Lakatosova said she is now considering moving her family from the area.

Homes and cars were damaged and graffiti daubed on walls in a spate of eight linked hate crimes against Romanians and Slovakians.

The windows of two houses in Bloomfield Avenue and Chobham Street were smashed. Paint was also thrown over the second property.

Two cars were damaged in Rosebery Street and Ravenscroft Street.

Police said it was too early to say if any particular group was responsible for Monday night's trouble but have not ruled out loyalist paramilitary involvement.

One of the victims, who had 'Romanians out' painted on her home in Bloomfield Avenue, was sitting in her living room watching television with her children when the property was paint bombed.

Mrs Lakatosova, who is Slovakian and a mother-of-two, said: "Just yesterday I walked around the area and there was nothing.

"I am scared and frightened and I don't know why they would do this.

"This is a very good street."

She said she had always found people in Northern Ireland to be "very good people".

Mrs Lakatosova said she was worried the family's home may be attacked again and said they did not know if they would continue to live in the house.

romanians out.JPG
Racist graffiti

PSNI Superintendent Mark McEwan said: "These attacks on people's homes, attacks on people's cars, attacks on homes and many of them family homes with young children staying in them, are so horrendous in nature and clearly racially motivated – clearly designed to intimidate and scare people.

"There is a certain level of orchestration to this group of people, some of them masked, who carried out these attacks but at this point we are unable to say whether any particular group is involved."

A large rise in racist incidents has been recorded across Belfast in the past year prompting a PSNI operation targeting perpetrators which began in May.

A total of 21 searches have been conducted, 20 people arrested and five charged, police said.

A group of men was seen running off towards the Ravenscroft area shortly after the graffiti appeared on Monday.

The vehicle attacked in Rosebery Street was covered in paint and had all its windows shattered.

Mr McEwan said all attacks took place some time before 10.50pm on Monday.

Officers are investigating a link between the incidents and are treating them as hate crimes.

Mr McEwan said police were pursuing a number of lines of inquiry and examining items for forensics.

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell called the crimes "despicable and cowardly".

He said: "Already this year we have witnessed too many racist attacks; attacks which serve only to create fear and raise tensions in already frightened communities."

Last month, a Ku Klux Klan flag was raised in east Belfast. It was later taken down.

Timeline of recent incidents

APRIL: Three young Polish nationals were savagely attacked by a 15-strong gang after being asked for a cigarette.

APRIL: A Romanian man had faeces thrown at him during a "sickening" racist attack on the Newtownards Road.

MAY: A Polish man had his home and car smashed in a vicious racist attack at Templemore Avenue in east Belfast.

MAY: Three properties were attacked in east Belfast. The front windows were smashed and racist graffiti daubed across the properties.

JUNE: A light blue ensign, featuring an Aryan eagle over a KKK symbol, appeared on a lamppost off Island Street in Ballymacarrett and was subsequently removed a day later.

It was emblazoned with the words 'New Order Knights' and also 'Ku Klux Klan', the white supremacist group which originated in the US.

JUNE: Banners put outside a house in east Belfast where a man, originally from Nigeria, was due to move in were said to be "blatantly racist".

Michael Abiona (34) was greeted with posters reading "Local Houses 4 Local People" at Glenluce Drive.

Mr Abiona said he was too afraid to move in.

Belfast Telegraph

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