Travellers in Cambridge claim discrimination and hate by residents in pubs and authorities

Smithy Fen

A traveller family from Smithy Fen told a packed meeting at Queens’ College they had been “victimised” and “discriminated” against by residents in pubs and the authorities.The meeting was held by Cambridge Unite Against Fascism (CUAF) after a threat to “burn” a planned mosque in Mill Road and a 1,600-signature petition against the £17.5 million building in another attack by the English Defence League (EDL), as the News reported.Daniel Baigent, Romsey Labour Party candidate for Cambridge City Council, said: “The room was full and the travellers spoke about discrimination they had suffered from a council and how they are being evicted in a few days from their home. “It was a very real plea for help. They also spoke about how they had been treated badly in local pubs.“The message I want to get across is when we hear low level racism and discrimination, if we don’t confront it, we are condoning it.”

Mr Baigent told the meeting: “My 31 years as a firefighter taught me that fear is dangerous. And so as a consequence I am not a person who backs away easily from a problem – especially a situation when I know I have a duty to act.

“But in June last year I was in fear and I did not speak out.

“That fear was caused by the EDL, who on June 1 marched to our cenotaph in Cambridge.

“And when they got there they paraded in para-military fashion and placed their symbols of hate alongside wreaths to our war dead. And I sat there with three others with our placards condemning their actions.

“And I wanted to shout the same comments that months earlier had come to my lips so easily.

“But that time I was with the thousands of people who marched against the EDL in Cambridge. This time I was all but alone and I froze in fear. That is what the racism does.

“But that was once. Once in my life when I did not speak out – that time has now gone.”

The group held the meeting on Monday entitled ‘The Lessons of the Holocaust for Anti-Fascists Today’, which was attended by more than 30 people, filling the room.

Richard Rose, the group’s spokesman, said: “The meeting was held to ensure that the racist views held by the likes of the EDL continue to be marginalised in our diverse, multicultural and tolerant city. With the EDL now crumbling, we now need to undermine the more ‘respectable’ racism against migrants and travellers peddled by the likes of Ukip.”

A spokesman for South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The council has no evictions planned at this time from Smithy Fen.”

From Cambridge News 16.03.14. Report by Raymond Brown.

Liveraf comment. Those words of Daniel Baigent’s bear a frightening resemblance to the famous poem by pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), about all the people who looked the other way every time the concentration camp trains rolled by.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The only way that tyranny and fascism can succeed is if nobody speaks out against them.


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