The Polish embassy in London has said it is "shocked and deeply concerned" by recent reports of xenophobic abuse directed against "the Polish community and other UK residents of migrant heritage".
Yesterday, allegedly racist graffiti was found on the front of a Polish cultural centre in London in what is suspected to be the latest example of anti-immigrant sentiment following Britain's vote to leave the European Union on Thursday.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police confirmed to BuzzFeed News that officers from London's Hammersmith and Fulham borough investigated "alleged racially motivated criminal damage" at the Polish Social & Cultural Association (POSK) building on King Street, Hammersmith on Sunday morning.
Immigration was a key issue in the Leave campaign’s battle to win votes, in an approach criticised as xenophobic.
The building has been the POSK headquarters since the organisation was founded in London in 1967. The group's mission, according to its website, is "to promote Polish culture in all its forms to Poles and non Poles".
Many of the centre's senior figures are second- and third-generation Poles and British citizens, according to London-based Polish journalist Jakub Krupa.
"We were very disturbed and upset this morning to find really unpleasant graffiti all across the front of our building," POSK's chair, Joanna Mludzinska, said in a statement on Twitter on Sunday afternoon. "We have been very moved and are extremely grateful to our local councillors and MPs and our neighbours who've come to support us."
Tadeusz Stenzel, president of the Federation of Poles in Great Britain, told Polish news site PAP that he had "never before met with a similar attack that would have chosen to target Polish cultural center". He said the current wave of anti-Polish sentiment moving over Britain reminded him of the "no Irish, no blacks" signs seen in England in the 1950s.
In a series of tweets, Labour MP for Hammersmith and Fulham Andy Slaughter called the graffiti "an outrageous act that disgusts not only me and the Polish community but everyone in Hammersmith & Fulham".
He added: "We are proud in west London to be the centre for the Polish community in the UK and the home of POSK.
"POSK was founded by the generation who fought with Britain against Nazism and who helped build our inclusivity and prosperity."
Greg Hands, Conservative MP for neighbouring Chelsea and Fulham echoed Slaughter's thoughts. He tweeted: "Let us all say it loud & clear that Poles are incredibly welcome in the UK & the word 'Solidarity' never felt more appropriate."
The graffiti follows an alleged incident of hate mail being sent to Polish residents in Cambridgeshire on Saturday and numerous accounts of racial abuse that have been reported on social media since Thursday's referendum vote.
Sky News' Adam Boulton said that he had personally witnessed racial abuse over the weekend, and BuzzFeed News reporter Alan White said he had heard men shout "fuck off" to Polish staff in a shop near his home and reported the incident to police.
A Twitter account called @PostRefRacism has also been set up to document accounts of racist abuse recorded on social media.
Inquiries are being made by police into incidents reported in both London and Cambridgeshire.
Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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