June 25 – The Burnley fan responsible for the provocative “white lives matter, Burnley” banner flown as a stunt over Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium at the start of the fixture between the teams on Monday has been dismissed from his job as a welder at a local engineering firm, according to British reports.
Monday’s game had just got under way when the banner was flown over the ground. Both teams had taken the knee in support of Black Lives Matter just minutes earlier.
Police investigated the incident but said no crime was committed but Paradigm Precision, the company where Hepple worked, said it “did not condone or tolerate racism in any form”. His girlfriend was also fired from a beauty salon for posts she put on social media.
Hepple insisted he was no racist but was handed a lifetime ban by Burnley while it was reported that The Suicide Squad, a group of far-right Burnley fans, are believed to have crowdfunded for the flight and its message ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’.
“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,” he was quoted as saying.
“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.”
Hepple claims the police have offered him protection should he or his family face threats in the future.
“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.”
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com