‘Keep refugees out of York’ march planned for city centre on Saturday

Syrian refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece, Sept 9, 2015. Photograph © AP / Freedom House on Flickr
27 Nov 2015 @ 7.38 pm
| News

Residents in York are planning to march against refugees being resettled in the city this weekend.

More than 3,200 people have joined the Facebook group #York Says No to Refugees which is planning to stage the demonstration on Saturday afternoon (November 28).

A post by administrator Jon Reynolds, 51, from York, says that they want those participating to remember to be “peaceful” and to not lower themselves to the “do gooders, tree huggers and UAF standards”.

It adds: “We want to have our say.”

A screenshot of one of the posts on the Facebook group's page
A screenshot of one of the posts on the Facebook group’s page

The group’s description says:

This is a group for the YORK people and surrounding areas to join together to stop our town becoming anything like what’s happening in Europe and stop MP [York Central MP Rachael Maskell] over riding what WE the people want… let’s fill our streets and say NO

YorkMix understands that the protest will begin at 1pm on Saturday, starting at the Railway Workers Memorial on Station Rise.

Attempts to contact those involved in organising have so far gone unanswered.

Counter demonstration

The picture from the Facebook group, York Says Refugees Welcome Here
The picture from the Facebook group, York Says Refugees Welcome Here

Meanwhile, a counter-demonstration organised by the York People’s Assembly will also take place at the same time and location.

Organiser Graham Martin told us:

We’re obviously very concerned that this is happening on the busiest shopping day of the year for York, and at a time when many people visit our city.

Whilst we can’t afford to let people think that York is a hostile city for refugees and ethnic minorities, everyone recognises the imperative to keep things peaceful.

By turning out in numbers at the time and location of this anti-refugee protest, we want to send a clear message to visitors and residents alike that we are many, and that they don’t speak for our city.

As part of the Government’s plan to accept 20,000 Syrian refugees from refugee camps, City of York Council announced that 60 people would be resettled in the local area.

Graham said he was hopeful for a peaceful demonstration. “Past events of this kind in York have been peaceful, and whilst debate has been heated, both sides have been able to converse.”

York was designated a City of Sanctuary in 2012, becoming one of only 30 cities in the UK to be home to vulnerable people.

There is also a candlelit vigil planned on Saturday at 4.30pm to ‘remember all the victims of war, terror attacks and drownings’. Exhibition Square from 4.30pm – more details on the Facebook page