Monday 19 November 2018

'I feel very depressed about it, I can't sleep' - disabled woman (77) who was victim of racist rant on Ryanair flight

Abusive rant: A still from a video shows the man involved in the incident. Photo: David Lawrence/PA
Abusive rant: A still from a video shows the man involved in the incident. Photo: David Lawrence/PA

Tom Embury-Dennis

A black disabled woman who was racially abused on a Ryanair flight to London has spoken about her “shock” over the incident.

Delsie Gayle was called an “ugly black  b******” by a white man sitting next to her on a flight from Barcelona to London Stansted on Friday.

The 77-year-old's ordeal sparked outrage after footage of the abuse was captured by a fellow passenger and posted on Facebook.

The row apparently broke out after Ms Gayle was unable to move out of her aisle seat quickly enough to let the man sit down in his window seat.

“I feel really depressed about it. I go to my bed and say, ‘What have I done?' I haven’t done anything (for him) to attack me because of the colour of my skin,” she told ITV News.

Ms Gayle, a member of the Windrush generation who moved to Britain in the 1960s, tearfully revealed she did not know when she would recover from the incident “because every time I remember I cry.”

“I feel very low, because he paid his fare to go on holiday, I paid mine, so why does he abuse me for that due to the colour of my skin?” she said, adding if the man gets away with it he will do it to someone else.

“I don’t eat, I can’t sleep. I’m just lying down there, I don’t eat. I’m just lying down there and think I’ve never gone through this with all my travelling.”

She added: “I was shocked, nobody ever said those words to me. I travel a lot, I go to Canada... and no-one has ever said those words to me.”

The video, shot by UK resident David Lawrence, shows the man demanding the woman to move seats, while her daughter tells him her mother is disabled.

He replies: “I don’t care whether she’s f****** disabled or not – if I tell her to get out she gets out.”

The flight attendant then asks the woman if she would like to move to another seat and the woman tells him she would like to sit near her daughter.

The man interjects: “Move her to another seat … I can’t get in while she’s sat there.”

The woman responds: “You smell. You need a wash.”

Then, the man says: “If you don’t go to another seat, I’ll push you to another seat.”

Later in the argument, he says: “Don’t talk to me in a f****** foreign language you stupid ugly cow.”

A fellow passenger tries to intervene, asking the man to stop being abusive.

But the man says: “I will carry on as far as I can with this ugly black b******.”

The flight attendant says the man is being “super rude” and tells him to calm down, while a number of passengers on the flight call for the man to be removed from the flight.

The Ryanair employee tells the man that the airline does not tolerate abusive behaviour and says he will discuss the matter further with his supervisor.

When contacted by Independent.ie, a spokesman for Ryanair said: "We have reported this to the police in Essex and as this is now a police matter, we cannot comment further."

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “Essex Police takes prejudice-based crime seriously and we want all incidents to be reported.

"We are working closely with Ryanair and the Spanish authorities on the investigation."

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