Polish community in 'shock and fear' after murder near takeaway shops


The Polish community in Harlow is in a state of "shock and fear" after the murder of Arkadiusz Jozwik outside takeaway shops in a suspected hate crime.

Mr Jozwik's was killed by a single punch in an apparently unprovoked attack on August 27.

Two other Polish men were assaulted in the town centre hours after attending a silent vigil for the 40-year-old, known as Arek, on September 4.

Speaking at a public meeting on Saturday, Miroslawa Majdzinska said she has been repeatedly been targeted in racist incidents, including someone trying to set fire to her house.

"After Brexit of course things got worse," the Polish national added.

"Many, many people were abused, my friends were told not to speak the Polish language in the workplace, kids are not allowed to speak Polish in school."

"We knew it would be bad but didn't know it would be this bad," she added.

"Arek's death was like something breaking our hearts - it was shock and fear. We are a close community, everyone knows each other.

"I knew Arek's brother, he was a fantastic guy, a real family guy.

"Every day their family would have dinner together, it is a really close family.

"Arek was a really quiet man and really a family person, he worked in the factory with his mother."

Albanian Mimoza Matoshi, who works for Integration Support Services in Harlow, said there has been a dramatic rise in racist attacks since Brexit.

"We feel like we don't belong here anymore. The vote was one thing but the reaction of people is another," she added.

"Since the murder people don't have hope anymore, people want to leave."

She said the majority of racist attacks are not reported to police and that many of those that were have not been properly recorded as hate crimes.

Harlow resident Sumana, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, said someone tried to rip her hijab from her head as she walked down the street about two weeks ago.

"I haven't reported it to the police. One of the problems is people don't know how to, it's not something you can ring 999 for," she added.

The 25-year-old, who did not want to give her full name, said she worries about her mother going to the shops alone in an evening.

"For the past few weeks I have been concerned for her," she said.

"I don't want out to be a place that's thought of as unsafe for us to go out in."

Mr Jozwik, a Polish factory worker living and working in Harlow, was attacked outside the TGF Pizza and Mr Luigi's takeaway shops in The Stow at about 11.35pm.

He suffered head injuries and died in hospital two days later.

A 43-year-old man from Harlow and a third man, aged 40, were also assaulted.

Six teenagers, aged 15 and 16, have been arrested in connection with the incident and released on bail until October 12.

Police have released CCTV footage in a public appeal for information.

Essex Police chief superintendent Sean O'Callaghan said: "There has been limited contact from the public so far, that is why we are asking people to assist us.

"We believe the answers to what has happened is in the community.

"We are talking about teenagers, school-aged groups, we know people will be concerned and frightened about coming forward but we would urge people to do so."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Essex Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.