The local community in Norwich has come together to support a Romanian retailer whose convenience store was significantly damaged in an arson attack on Friday.
Almost £30,000 has been raised in donations through an online JustGiving charity page in support of the Village Store in Magdalen Street.
The store was attacked on Friday when a brick was thrown through its front door window before a small fire was started in the early hours of the morning. Police were called around 3am and, while no one was harmed, the store suffered significant damages and stock was destroyed.
Detective Inspector Chris Burgess of Norwich CID said: “We are aware of suggestions this may have been a racially-motivated incident and whilst there is currently no information to suggest this to be the case we will of course keep an open mind.
“We are treating this as a deliberate ignition, an arson, at this stage and the investigation is ongoing.”
The attack comes amid a recent spike in reported hate crimes and incidents which peaked on the day after the EU referendum result was announced.
Commenting on the increase in reported racial abuse since the Brexit result, Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Xenophobia and racism are unacceptable, and that’s been the same before, during and after the referendum campaign. Sadly some people – and in reality it is probably a very small minority – feel through some warped logic that the referendum result has given them the permission to express these views, in some cases aggressively and even alongside violence.
“Half of convenience stores are run by British Asian people, and some of this abuse may be directed at these and other businesses run by ethnic minorities. Racial abuse is a crime, and is an aggravating factor if linked to other crimes committed against retailers, so retailers need to report any incidents. We also want to hear accounts of these incidents so that we can relay these experiences to press for action to tackle these crimes – we are already in contact with the Home Office on this matter.”