I’m proud to be the council leader in Croydon, the town I have lived in for over 30 years, and I’m proud of our record as one of London’s most diverse boroughs. So, like all of you, I was appalled at the vile and cowardly attack we saw on a defenceless young man, Reker Ahmed, last week in Shirley. An attack described by the police as a “hate crime”; an attack on a young man who was assaulted by a mob because he was in our country seeking asylum; an attack that was both vicious and mindless. An attack that has been condemned by all.
Local people, and those choosing to come here, tell me they live here because they love Croydon’s diversity and sense of community. That reputation is something we all celebrate, and we will not allow one attack, however vicious, to damage it.
Both Croydon and the justice system must send the clearest possible message – that hate will never be allowed to divide us. We are proud of our communities, proud of our diversity and we are proud of Croydon; our strength is our unity, and that is why we will prevail.
On your behalf, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our excellent local police and new borough police commander Jeff Boothe, both for the speed with which they responded to the original incident, and for the speed with which they have moved to make arrests and charge the alleged suspects. While, of course, due process must follow, I know I speak for the overwhelming majority in calling for the most severe sentences possible to be levied against anyone who is found guilty. Anything less would, in my view, be unacceptable.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Reker Ahmed at this time, and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.
Leader, Croydon Council