Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Chelsea fan hunted by police over 'racist' abuse at Waterloo

Revealed: Amateur football club secretary and Chelsea fan, 61, ‘is one of four men hunted by police’ after group hurled ‘racist’ abuse at pro-Palestinian supporters at Waterloo station – as neighbours near his £600k house say they’re ’embarrassed’

An amateur football club secretary and Chelsea fan was today named as one of a group of men being hunted by police for hurling ‘racist’ abuse at pro-Palestinian supporters on Armistice Day. 

Neighbours of Kevin Sweeney, 61, say he was one of four men wanted for questioning over the incident at Waterloo station having seen his photograph on Met Police appeals.

They said officers turned up yesterday evening at his house in West Molesey, Surrey, but he was not home. Today, his son refused to make any comment at the doorstep of the family’s £600,000 semi-detached home. His wife could be seen inside.

His son, who was agitated, told MailOnline: ‘Just go away. Get away from my house.’

Neighbours spoke of their shock at Mr Sweeney’s involvement in the incident. One, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Everyone has seen his face all over social media. It’s embarrassing.’ 

A second said: ‘This is so out of character for Kevin. He is not like that at all and is such a nice man. It is quite shocking. Totally out of character. The police were here on Sunday but he wasn’t home. I have not seen him today.’

Do you know any of the suspects? Email [email protected]

Neighbours of Kevin Sweeney, 61, (right) say he was one of four men wanted for questioning over the incident at Waterloo station having seen his photograph on appeals

A man said to be Mr Sweeney was filmed yelling obscenities at a group of pro-Palestine protesters, calling them terrorist c****s.

Mr Sweeney is the secretary of Moseley FC who play in the Combined Counties League. He has also played for the veteran’s side 

It is not known if he was part of the far-right group led by Tommy Robinson who had disrupted the Armistice Day ceremony or was returning from attending a match

Mr Sweeney is the secretary of Moseley FC who play in the Combined Counties League. He has also played for the veteran’s side.

A spokesman for the club was unavailable for comment.

Mr Sweeney once paid over a £1,000 to play in a charity football match in 2004 that featured two of Chelsea’s biggest stars, Ray Wilkins and Clive Walker.

READ MORE – Swastika placards, activists dressed as Hamas killers, a ‘coconut’ poster and clashes between pro-Palestine and far right: How London was blighted by a day of hate 

He made the contribution to boost an appeal for funds to support those affected by the 2004 Tsunami and played in a Chelsea old boys team against Molesey FC team

The football fan was with three other men as they confronted a group of pro-Palestinian supporters on Saturday evening at the conclusion of the march on Armistice Day.

It is not known if he was part of the far-right group led by Tommy Robinson who had disrupted the Armistice Day ceremony or was returning from attending a match. 

One of the other men involved was wearing an Arsenal shirt with the No 41 on the back.

Sweeney was filmed yelling obscenities at the group calling them terrorist c****s.

The incident ended when a member of staff at the station intervened.

British Transport Police issued a photo of the four men they wanted to question over the racially aggravated incident.

A statement said:’ Officers are looking to speak to the individuals in the images who they believe may have information that could help their investigation.’

A spokesman for British Transport Police has been contacted for comment.

A group of men, including Mr Sweeney (far left) were filmed walking through Waterloo station shouting vile expletives at protesters. They are being hunted by BTP 

The fourth man, an Arsenal fan, was filmed shouting vile expletives at pro-Palestine protesters

One pro-Palestine demonstrator was pictured carrying a sign that showed the Jewish Star of David wrapped around a Nazi swastika

The Met Police are also ‘actively seeking’ two men pictured wearing alleged Hamas-style headbands

Police are hunting a raft of other suspects over Saturday’s chaos, mainly for alleged hate crimes. 

READ MORE – Jewish D-Day veteran, 98, who helped Nazi concentration camp survivors during the Second World War fears ‘we are going through the same thing again’ after ‘cowardly’ Hamas attack 

They include a woman filmed yelling ‘death to all Jews’, two men pictured wearing Hamas headbands, an antisemite who praised Hitler and another anti-Israel protester pictured with a sign saying: ‘Gaza, twinned with Auschwitz’. 

The BTP made an arrest last night after a man was filmed calling a Muslim woman a ‘terrorist lover’ at Charing Cross station.   

Meanwhile, the Met has charged seven men ranging from 21 to 75 with a variety of offences, including possession of an offensive weapon, possession of class A drugs and criminal damage. 

Just two of the seven are from London, with the others living in Norfolk, Kent, Manchester, Flintshire and West Lothian.    

At least 300,000 protesters marched Park Lane near Hyde Park to the US embassy in Vauxhall on Saturday, while counter-protesters gathered in Whitehall claiming they wanted to ‘protect the Cenotaph’. 

Police made 145 arrests and nine officers were left injured.

One shocking video shows a woman screaming ‘death to all Jews’ as she passes a group of counter protesters at Victoria station in London. She’s being hunted by British Transport Police

Video shared to X showed a group of yobs, including one in an Arsenal shirt, walking through Waterloo before shouting vile expletives at protesters.  

A man in an Arsenal shirt is seemingly the first to hit out, calling demonstrators ‘terrorist f***ers’. 

Another man then steps forward, agreeing: ‘Yeah who are you? You terrorist c***’. 

The confrontation appears to escalate as one of the men shouts: ‘Who are you? Who are you f***ing hitting’. He is then held back by another man as he leaps forward.

Pro-Palestine supporters then hit back, telling the group of men: ‘You are being disrespectful towards the dead’.

The right-wing mob then declare in response: ‘Who are you? We were born in this country. You f***ing tourist c***s’.

Police say they are searching for the group over a ‘racially aggravated altercation’. 

READ MORE – Rishi Sunak to bolster protest laws after Armistice Day chaos

Another shocking video shared on social media shows a confrontation between pro-Palestine demonstrators and counter-protesters in Victoria station. 

Footage appears to show Palestine supporters engaging with the counter-demonstrators, who ask questions about one of the Hamas hostages.

The pro-Palestine supporters, seemingly aggrieved by the confrontation, shout back: ‘Excuse me? You’ve lost your mind’. 

‘How old was Aisha?’, the counter protesters ask back – in a reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s wife.  

It is at this point that a woman walks past yelling: ‘Killers! Killers! Death to all the Jews’.

The BTP issued an appeal to identify the woman in relation to an ‘anti-Semitic hate crime’.

The Met said it was ‘actively seeking’ two men pictured wearing alleged Hamas-style headbands on the pro-Palestine march. 

They vowed to take ‘proactive action’ once the two individuals, disguised in their balaclava and scarf-covered faces, were identified.

They were also searching for multiple demonstrators who were pictured with racist placards. 

One woman was pictured carrying a sign that showed the Jewish Star of David wrapped around a Nazi swastika with the slogan: ‘No British politician should be a ‘friend of Israel’.’

A second was seen with a banner depicting Suella Braverman and Mr Sunak as coconuts, which is a racist term used to imply that someone has betrayed their race. 

Another individual on the Met’s list of suspects is a man who was filmed saying: ‘Hitler knew how to deal with these people’.

They are also searching for a man with a sign saying ‘welcome to Gaza, twinned with Auschwitz’; and a woman holding a racist banner depicting Mr Sunak and Suella Braverman as ‘coconuts’ 

Another individual on the Met’s list of suspects is a man who was filmed saying: ‘Hitler knew how to deal with these people’

The Met has shared photos on X, formerly Twitter , of other people wanted for ‘hate crimes’ committed at the march. These protesters are among those being hunted by police

A sign at the protest featured cartoons appearing to depict depict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman

Protesters holds a banner telling people to ‘resist and fight Zionism’ as they march through central London on Saturday

In an interview with Rebel News, the man violently questions: ‘Why every one hundred years do the Zionists get slaughtered?’

He then answers his own question, by horrifyingly stating: ‘Because Hitler knew!’  

The Met said that officers leading a ‘hate crime investigation’ want to identify him.

While the search remains for the dozen of listed suspects, police announced last night that they had arrested a man in his 40s for racially aggravated public order offences.

A video shared to social media shows the man ‘shooing’ a group of Muslim individuals, telling them: ‘Go away, go back home’. 

READ MORE – Met Police faces new impartiality row as officers are seen posing with child protester holding Palestine flag

The woman who shared the video, called Lorraine King, wrote: ‘My Muslim friend was accosted by this ‘charming’ man at Charing Cross Station who she said told her ‘to go back home’, before calling her a ‘rat’ and a ‘terrorist’. 

‘She’s a vulnerable hijab wearing woman and I’m very upset about this. I can’t believe this is England 2023.’

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who led Saturday’s policing operation, said: ‘Public order policing doesn’t end when demonstrators go home.

‘We have teams of officers who continue to build cases against those in custody and launch investigations into those who come to our attention when images and videos are shared on social media,’ he said.

‘Since the end of yesterday’s demonstration we’ve published appeals in relation to six incidents and I have no doubt there will be more to follow. Our colleagues at the British Transport Police have published a further two appeals.

‘We urge anyone who has information about the identity of suspects, or who has footage or photos of further potential offences, to get in touch so we can take the appropriate action.’

Among those already charged are John Harvey, 75, from Hackney in east London, and 23-year-old Ethan Stapely, from Norfolk. 

They have been remanded to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today. Harvey was charged with criminal damage and Stapely with resisting arrest.

Taylor Warne, 21, from Kent, was charged with possession of class A drugs.

A placard displayed at the protest compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler

This sign, seen at the rally, accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being the ‘mastermind’ behind ‘all evils’

Officers detained and arrested scores of counter-protesters at the rally, which the Met said was attended by 300,000 people 

A counter-protester is detained by police in Parliament Square in central London on Saturday

James Buckley, 42, from Manchester, was charged with possession of an offensive weapon while 48-year-old William Duncan, from West Lothian in Scotland, was charged with being drunk and disorderly.

Karl Jordan, 47, from Hounslow, west London, was charged with assault on an emergency worker.

Meanwhile, Sam Fairclough, 33, from Flintshire in Wales, was bailed to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on December 1, charged with possession of an offensive weapon.

READ MORE – Greta Thunberg’s speech to thousands in Amsterdam is hijacked by man who tells her ‘I’ve come for a climate demonstration, not a political view’ 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the ugly scenes in London yesterday ‘utterly disrespects’ the spirit of remembrance and condemned ‘wholly unacceptable’ actions by both far-right groups and ‘Hamas sympathisers’ on the pro-Palestinian march. 

He also put pressure on police by saying ‘all criminality must be met with the full and swift force of the law’. 

Officers detained and arrested scores of counter-protesters at the rally, which the Met said was attended by 300,000 people. Organisers allege the latest estimate was ‘more than 800,000’.

Huge crowds waved black, red, white and green Palestinian flags and held aloft placards proclaiming ‘Stop Bombing Gaza’, shouting ‘free Palestine’, ‘ceasefire now’ and ‘Israel is a terror state’.

The number of arrests on Saturday topped those from all previous pro-Palestinian marches combined, which have seen people detained for hate crimes and showing support for Hamas, which is proscribed as a terrorist group in the UK.

Police said they were prepared for small breakaway groups and expected pockets of violence, with concern about far-right groups, including football hooligans massing to protect landmark memorials.

A breakaway group of around 150 pro-Palestinian protesters from the march were detained in Grosvenor Place yesterday.

‘The group were firing fireworks and many are wearing face coverings,’ the Met said., adding that officers used their Section 60 and 60AA powers to detain and search those involved.

A large crowd gathered near Parliament Square on Saturday. Police said the group threw projectiles and insulted officers

Protesters hold flares during a pro-Palestinian protest in London on Saturday

Earlier in the day, a total of 82 people who police said were part of ‘large group’ of counter-protesters who had ‘tried to reach the main protest march’ were arrested in Tachbrook Street, Pimlico.

Reports suggested that some people were detained and prevented from leaving the nearby White Swan pub with a heavy police presence outside, including officers on horseback.

A further 10 arrests were made throughout the day for offences including possession of offensive weapons, affray and possession of drugs, police said.

READ MORE – Suella Braverman, the polarising darling of the Right whose hard line on borders, pro-Palestinian protests and the homeless has put her in the running for future Tory leader 

Suella Braverman was sacked as home secretary today after she was accused of stoking tensions in the lead up to the march. 

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak is looking to tighten the laws to make it easier to ban marches and prosecute those glorifying terrorism, according to reports. 

He looks set to press Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s ugly scenes in London when he meets the police chief in the coming days.

Defence minister James Heappey said ‘clearly the law needs to be strengthened’ to prevent protests where ‘hateful’ messages are displayed or chanted.

Weeks of pro-Palestinian protests in cities across the country, plus the ugly scenes as a far-right counter-demonstration attempted to reach the Cenotaph on Saturday, appear to have convinced ministers of the need to act.

Mr Heappey stressed that the police have operational independence to decide how to respond to protests, but he said the Government has to decide whether current laws are suitable.

‘I think it is entirely right that the Government would be looking at whether or not there are things that need to be done legislatively in order to give the police greater powers to police those protests better,’ he told Sky News.

He added that ‘if it looks like protests are happening again and again, and that people are turning up each week carrying placards and shouting chants that are hateful’ then ‘clearly the law needs to be strengthened to avoid that’.

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