Banners at house treated as hate crime

Banners at house treated as hate crime

Police have confirmed they are treating as a hate crime an incident in which banners were placed outside a Nigerian man's house in east Belfast.

Michael Abiona was due to move into the property at Glenluce Drive on Tuesday when he was met by around five people with banners reading 'local houses for local people'.The 34-year-old, who has been living in Belfast for four years, said it was "discrimination", however one of the women involved said they were protesting because they wanted the Housing Executive bungalow to be reserved for disabled or elderly people, and that it was not racial.Police removed the banners on Wednesday morning.A spokesperson said they had done so "in order to secure and preserve evidence as part of an investigation into alleged intimidation".He said the incident is being treated as a hate crime at this time, adding: "An incident is treated as a hate crime by the PSNI if it is perceived to be by the victim or any other person."Mr Abiona told UTV he is now afraid to move into the house following the protest.He said: "I applied for it as every normal person applied for it with the Housing Executive. One asked am I disabled and I said yes I am disabled. "At the end of it all I left there. Then I called my son's mum who told me that it's not good at all and she's not going to allow our son to live in such a place."The incident was widely condemned by local politicians.


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