Nine men arrested on suspicion of chanting racist songs
Football fans suspected of chanting racist songs on a train back from an FA Cup match were arrested today (25 January) in a series of dawn raids in south east London.
The Charlton Athletic supporters are accused of chanting “There’s only one Gary Dobson” in reference to the convicted killer of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.
A police investigation was launched after passengers on the train between Putney and Waterloo complained of being intimidated by the group of fans coming back from Charlton’s FA Cup game against Fulham on January 7.
Nine men aged between 20 and 30 were arrested today, in early morning raids in south east London, on suspicion of conspiring to incite racial hatred as part of British Transport Police’s Operation Midas.
The Standard saw officers arrest two men after knocking on the door at a terraced house near Abbey Wood station. It was one of 11 properties raided at 6am.
The men, aged 21 and 23 and both from Abbey Wood, were later led from the house with their hoods over their heads and put into police cars as female relatives looked on from inside the house.
The suspects were identified with the help of officials from the League One side, the use of CCTV footage, and police intelligence reports dealing with racism in football.
Detective Inspector Ashley Cooper, leading the investigation for the British Transport Police, said a small minority of football fans still see disorder as part of the match-day experience, despite efforts to stamp out the problem.
He said: “This minority blights the rail journeys of many ordinary passengers and stain the reputation of the game and the country. They also continue to cause us problems that require significant resources to contain.
“We’ve had great success in dealing with these types of crimes, and serious incidents are on the decline; however, by working closely with clubs, the rail industry, and football authorities, we’re making inroads into tackling the type of anti-social behaviour that can ruin match days for law-abiding fans and members of the public.”
Charlton Athletic chief executive Stephen Kavanagh, who attended this morning’s police raids, said the racist chanting was “abhorrent behaviour” and “totally condemned by our club”. He said: “In addition to assisting the police, for our own part we will be seeking to ban for life anyone who is found guilty of racially offensive chanting.
“We have been a pioneer of anti-racism and anti-discrimination initiatives in football, so although these are isolated incidents and in no way reflect the overwhelming majority of Charlton supporters, these recent arrests are saddening to all those who have worked so hard over many decades.
“We have worked closely with the British Transport Police and the club’s football intelligence officer to identify those responsible, and will continue to do all we can to ensure that racism has no place at our club or in football.”
Anyone with information about the incident should call 0800 40 50 40 quoting incident B11/LSA of 23/01/2012, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
From Evening Standard