OPEN LETTER TO THE CHIEF CONSTABLE OF SUSSEX POLICE FROM PROTESTERS AGAINST THE ECOSTREAM SHOP ON WESTERN ROAD
11 January 2014
We are writing as a group of individuals who hold a non-violent protest outside the EcoStream store on Western Road in Brighton. We are making an ethical protest against an Israeli business, which is selling goods made in an illegal settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Our purpose is to inform the public about the company’s complicity in human rights abuses, and support the call of Palestinian people for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, to assert their right to justice and human rights.
While outside the shop we are met by an organised campaign by Zionists from Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI) who are deliberately using tactics of abuse and intimidation to try to stop our protest.
We are constantly subjected to verbal abuse, physical intimidation, threats of violence, malicious slander, and racism directed towards our Black, Jewish and Muslim colleagues. Key Sussex Friends of Israel activists repeatedly shout racist slogans denigrating Palestinians, clearly aimed to incite public hatred against all Palestinian people.
This behaviour is intimidating to passers-by, particularly those who are subjected to the abuse of being referred to as supporters of terrorism for signing our petition.
The police have failed to address the hate crimes being committed, thus encouraging SFI to be more physically and verbally threatening, as they know it will go unchallenged.
We have kept a record and video evidence of such behaviour and we are compiling a dossier of evidence detailing incidents of SFI hate speech against Muslims, Palestinians and Arabs. From now on we will also be video recording complaints made to officers and their consequent actions or inactions.
We would also like to draw your attention to the rhetoric and mendacious vilification directed towards us on the SFI Facebook page, which we are sure you will agree, is unhelpful to public order.
We understand that hate crime in all its forms is unlawful and those subjected to it have the right to protection from the police from acts of intimidation and harrassment while we exercise our right to peaceful protest. We trust you will brief your officers on their responsibilities to uphold those rights and discharge their powers appropriately in protecting individual citizens from such behaviour in the future.