THE CHAIR of Warwick District Council (WDC) has been the victim of “serious and sustained racial abuse”, it has been revealed.
Coun Mini Kaur Mangat was unanimously elected as Chair of WDC back in May and is not only the youngest person to full the role but the first woman of colour.
But during the course of representing the council at different public events across the district, Coun Mangat has been the target of racism, WDC has announced.
Speaking at a WDC meeting on Wednesday night (September 7) Council Leader Andrew Day – backed unanimously by the whole council – said: “Coun Mangat has come forward reluctantly and is understandably concerned that in making this public statement, she and her family may suffer further racist attacks.
“However, as a long-time campaigner against racism, our Chair firmly believes that it is important that we as a council come together to speak out to condemn this unacceptable behaviour.”
Coun Day continued that Coun Mangat is receiving police support.
“Whilst Coun Mangat continues to enthusiastically carry out her duties at our Chair, measures are being put in place to provide some protection, including restricting the online publication of her personal contact details. Our local police force is also providing Coun Mangat with advice and practical support, demonstrating just how seriously they take this form of hate crime.
“The fact that our Chair has been attacked in this way has come as something of a shock. But, I hope that in shining a bright light on this abhorrent behaviour, we might also encourage others to challenge racism wherever it is found in our community.
“This is an attack on our way of life and the values on which we as councillors are building a better society. Racism in all its forms must be confronted whenever it is encountered, so I commend Mini for her bravery at what must be a difficult time for her and her family.”
Coun Day added: “This is also an appropriate moment to reaffirm that Warwick District Council does not tolerate discrimination in any form, and we continue to strive to ensure that racism and exclusion are eliminated in our community, as we work to make Warwick district a safe and inclusive place for everyone to live, work and visit.”
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has thrown his full support behind Coun Mangat.
He told the Observer: “In this political climate, it takes real courage to put yourself forward for public office. It takes much more courage for women and people of colour to do so – knowing, unfortunately, you risk being on the receiving end of sexist and racist hatred and abuse.”
Mr Western continued: “Coun Mini Mangat has shown incredible courage, integrity, and strength to speak out about the abhorrent abuse she has received in the last few months.
“Let me be clear: what Mini has endured has no place in politics or Warwick district’s welcoming and diverse communities. I’m encouraged that Warwick District Council has shown solidarity with Mini and I’m glad the police are taking this seriously.
“As I told Mini, it will be so powerful for other women and people of colour to see her standing strong and fighting back against hatred. Her stand will empower others to come forward while it will also educate people that racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination will never be tolerated – and is based on ignorance.
“She is one of Labour’s bright young stars, and someone who has spent her entire life fighting racism. She has my full solidarity.”