A European airline has come under criticism for not addressing an incident on one of their flights, where a white man racially abused an elderly black woman and still kept his seat.
In a video that has now gone viral on social media, a white passenger in Ryanair flight from Barcelona, Spain, to London was seen making racist remarks against a black woman with whom he was sharing seats. He not only refused to sit next to her but also threatened to push the woman (now identified as Mrs Gayle, aged 77) to another seat if she refused to move.
Recorded by London-based musician David Lawrence, the video shows a number of passengers and an airline crew trying to intervene. Despite calls from the passengers to get the offender booted out of the plane, the flight took off on time.
“When you watch the footage, you’ll see it starts to unfold where this man starts a torrent of abuse, absolutely disgusting, despicable words thrown at this elderly black woman,” Lawrence told the CNN.
According to Mrs Gayle’s daughter, who was seated a few seats back, her mother had arthritis and was unable to get up as fast to allow the white passenger pass, leading to the barrage of insults and abuses.
“I know that if I was behaving like he was – or any other black person for that matter – police would have been called and we would have been kicked off the flight.”
“Mum’s really feeling upset and very stressed about this situation, on top of the grief she’s already experiencing. As for me, I’m upset about the whole thing too – the fact that the passenger wasn’t taken off the plane and how the situation was dealt with,” she told the Huffington Post
The airline ended up moving Mrs. Gayle.
After the video went viral, the airline tweeted that they have reported the incident to Essex Police.
Statement: We are aware of this video and have reported this matter to Essex Police
— Ryanair (@Ryanair) October 21, 2018
Essex Police confirmed that it had been made aware of the incident.
“We are working closely with Ryanair and the Spanish authorities on the investigation,” reported the Telegraph.
Many social media users have called out the airline for its inaction, with Labour MP David Lammy, who represents the Tottenham area of London, calling for a boycott.
Ok boycott @Ryanair if they think it’s ok for a racist man to abuse an elderly black woman and remain on the plane. It’s 63 years since Rosa Parks said “No “ to sitting on the back of the Bus and we ain’t going back. https://t.co/IYczabgjMJ
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) October 21, 2018
An airline pilot can have a passenger kicked off a plane for abusive behaviour due to drink if it risks airplane safety, shame on @Ryanair for allowing this behaviour
— Adrian Venditti (@woodsman333) October 21, 2018
That’s it? The fact that you removed the person that was being racially abused instead of the person abusing the woman doesn’t bother you at all?
— Celia_O (@CeliaEquality) October 21, 2018
Too many on that Ryanair flight did nothing, empowering that guy to continue with his racist abuse. They could have demanded he be removed, put more pressure on the flight staff. Happens way too often, people turning a blind eye then claiming to be disgusted by racism.
— Darren Lewis (@MirrorDarren) October 22, 2018
Totally never flying @Ryanair again, but that was because of their terrible service, but now that I know they are perfectly happy to accommodate racism!? Mate… pic.twitter.com/vJJ90ZjxC4
— London Hughes (@TheLondonHughes) October 22, 2018
He should have been removed from the flight and handed over to the police. We assume the aircraft was in the UK. If it was, he definitely committed criminal offences. I fully expect @Ryanair to confirm the situation if In fact it was their flight? https://t.co/ORfww9ZiPg
— Karl Turner MP (@KarlTurnerMP) October 21, 2018
You are a disgrace as an airline in ever department. This episode highlights your lazy greedy arrogant approach to the care of your passengers or should I say cattle. Apologise right now.
— Fay Ripley (@FayRipley) October 21, 2018