London council exploring legal options after “obscene gestures and racist abuse” made at online black history event

Islington Council has said it is exploring its legal options, including criminal sanctions, after audience members at an online black history webinar purportedly levelled racist abuse at its speakers.

The London borough said that the event, which was attended by almost 200 residents and staff, was interrupted by a "small number of people" who made "obscene gestures and posted extremely offensive racist abuse". The disruptive audience members were subsequently removed from the event.

According to the council, it is now "exploring [its] legal options including criminal sanctions".

The event, called 'Allyship – True Meaning', took place last week (17 June 2021) and was centred on "how people of all races can become allies to Black people today".

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In a joint statement, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Leader of Islington Council, Linzi Roberts-Egan, Chief Executive of Islington Council, Islington Council's Race Equality Network, and Islington Black History Working Group, said: "Last night our staff and local people witnessed a vicious and hateful racist attack. It was an attack on Shereen Daniels, the accomplished anti-racism advocate and campaigner that we had invited to speak to us about allyship, an attack on the Islington Black History Working Group who had organised the event and an attack on our council's commitment to challenge inequality, racism and injustice in Islington."

The statement added: "We are resolute in our commitment to be an anti-racist organisation. So we say now if you are hateful and racist you are not welcome in our organisation or in our borough. We do not want you here, we will take action to remove you and pursue all our legal avenues, including criminal sanctions, as we have in response to last night's incident."

Adam Carey

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