A man who flew a White Lives Matter banner in a plane at the start of a football match has been fired from his job for the apparently “racist” act.
The White Lives Matter banner was flown over the Etihad stadium on Monday as players were taking a knee for Black Lives Matter before a football match between Manchester City and Burnley FC.
A plane flew over the Etihad stadium tonight with this banner saying ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’. So depressing. 👇 pic.twitter.com/W5WFkrQ8so
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 22, 2020
The banner faced immediate condemnation. In a statement, Burnley FC said that they “strongly condemn the actions of those responsible for the aircraft and offensive banner”:
We wish to make it clear that those responsible are not welcome at Turf Moor. We apologise unreservedly to the Premier League, to Manchester City and to all those helping to promote Black Lives Matter. The club has a proud record of working with all genders, religions and faiths through its award-winning community scheme, and stands against racism of any kind. We are fully behind the Premier League’s Black Lives Matter initiative and, in line with all other Premier League games undertaken since Project Restart, our players and football staff willingly took the knee at kick-off at Manchester City.
The police also investigated the incident, although they said in a statement that “after assessing all the information available surrounding this incident, we have concluded that there are no criminal offences that have been disclosed at this time.”
Jake Hepple, 24, was identified as the man who charted the plane with the White Lives Matter banner. Hepple posted a video on Facebook of the plane, and said that he would “like to take this time to apologise… to absolutely f***ing nobody!” He added that “it’s now apparently racist to say White Lives Matter, the day after three white people got murdered in a park in Reading, but all we’ve seen on the TV is Black Lives Matter after George Floyd got murdered. What a mad world we live in.”
Hepple was then subsequently fired from his job. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Hepple defiantly said that he was not racist:
I know people are trying to make out to be one but I’m not. I’ve got lots of Black and Asian friends and this banner was actually inspired by the Black Lives Movement. We were not trying to offend the movement or black people. I believe that it’s also important to acknowledge that white lives matter too. That’s all we were trying to say. My employer, the club and so many other people have completely overreacted to what’s happened. The police told me that I haven’t committed any crime and haven’t done anything wrong. In fact, they asked me if I was OK and wanted any protection, just in case people try to target me. I don’t understand why I’m being treated like a criminal and believe that there has been a total over reaction to what happened. Everything has been blown out of proportion, it’s ridiculous.
Hepple said that the banner was going to be flown over the match before the recent terror attack on three white men in Reading, but the attack convinced him even more that he had to get involved and do something. “I was angry that white people had been killed and nobody was making a fuss about that,” Hepple said, adding that “I stand by this banner and what it says 100 per cent. I’m not sorry at all and I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done.”
His girlfriend, Megan Rambadt, 21, was also fired from her job as a beautician, after refusing to go to “racial sensitivity training” sparked off by her boyfriend’s actions.
“She hasn’t stopped crying,” Hepple told the Mail Online. “Everybody is making her out to be a nasty, racist monster but she’s not like that at all. She’s been suspended from her job and is really upset at what’s happened. She knew about the banner and supported it but like me, she wasn’t expecting this reaction.”
Some leftists on Twitter celebrated Hepple’s firing, gleeful that another “racist” had lost his livelihood:
The Burnley fan behind the “White Lives Matter” banner has been fired from his job. It’s time to celebrate 🎉🥰
— Hasan Patel 🌹 (@CorbynistaTeen) June 24, 2020
I believe the youth say, 'chat shit, get banged'. https://t.co/4NbVyC6NKj
— Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 (@MikeStuchbery_) June 24, 2020
However, there was also a backlash from people angry that somebody could be sacked for simply acknowledging that white lives matter:
The White Lives Matter banner was juvenile as hell but it sure isn’t a reason for someone to have their livelihood destroyed or a lifetime flipping ban.
It’s of course an overreaction fuelled by a desperate corporate desire to appear woke.
— Dominique Samuels (@dominiquetaegon) June 24, 2020