Barcelona City Hall will take an alleged racist incident that took place on a Ryanair flight last Friday to the public prosecutor, municipal sources have revealed. A passenger on the plane, which flew from Barcelona to London Stansted, is seen on a cellphone video calling a disabled woman an “ugly black bastard,” after an argument broke out because the man apparently was angry that she had taken too long to get up out of her aisle seat to let him through to the window.
Deputy Mayor Jaume Asens has criticized the “racist” behavior of the man, as well as the “unacceptable” response by Ryanair
After the video went viral and was picked up on by media outlets around the world, there was growing anger at Ryanair for not having removed the man from the plane. The incident is now being investigated by police in Essex, the county in which Stansted is located, after Ryanair informed the authorities of the incident on Sunday morning, two days after it took place.
Barcelona City Hall has now decided to take the case to the prosecutor in order to clarify exactly what happened, to identify the alleged aggressor and to locate possible witnesses, given that both the council and the prosecutor have a protocol in place for alleged hate crimes. Deputy Mayor Jaume Asens has taken to Twitter to criticize the “racist” behavior of the man, as well as the response by Ryanair, which was, he said, “unacceptable.”
He added: “We will report this from Barcelona City Hall and we will seek the person who recorded the video as well as witnesses,” he added, adding a call for assistance from anyone who saw the incident.
Spain’s Public Works Ministry will also get involved in the matter. Via the AESA state air safety agency, the ministry will scrutinize the response of the Irish low-cost carrier. According to sources from the AESA, it will be checking if “the conditions are met for the person who caused the situation to be disciplined as a conflictive passenger, according to current legislation.”
The video of the incident has prompted a wave of indignation on social media, not just due to the verbal abuse but also due to the reaction by the cabin crew. Despite the fact that the man is heard to repeatedly insult the 77-year-old woman, who is of Jamaican origin, he was allowed to stay on the plane and the woman had to change seats, prompting criticism of the airline and widespread indignation.
When told of her condition, the man is heard to say: “I don’t care whether she’s fucking disabled or not – if I tell her to get out, she gets out.”
The man is heard to say to the woman: “Don’t talk to me in a foreign language, you stupid ugly cow,” despite the fact she was talking English with a Jamaican accent.
One member of the cabin crew is heard in the video to tell the man not to be rude and to calm down, while just two passengers intervene in defense of the woman. One of those was David Lawrence, who recorded the video, and who also called for the man to be immediately ejected from the flight. According to article 7 of the airline’s Terms and Conditions, it has the right to refuse boarding to anyone whose behavior “represents danger or risk for the rest of the passengers or crew.”
The woman’s daughter has explained to The Huffington Post that both of them were returning from a vacation aimed at cheering up her mother, a year after the death of her husband.
Ryanair stated via Twitter that it was aware of the existence of the video, and that it had informed Essex Police about it. Robin Kiely, head of communications for Ryanair, said in a statement that given the matter was now in the hands of the authorities, they could make no comment.
The airline told the BBC that it follows strict guidelines for conflictive passengers, and does not tolerate unruly behavior.
English version by Simon Hunter.