Arrest after comic subjected to racial abuse | Hecklers hurl bigoted slurs at President Obonjo

Arrest after comic subjected to racial abuse

Hecklers hurl bigoted slurs at President Obonjo

A man has been arrested after a comedian was subjected to a barrage of racial abuse on stage, causing the gig to be halted.

Benjamin Bankole Bello, who performs as spoof African dictator President Obonjo, was reportedly heckled with racial slurs by a group of 12 men when he played at the West End Comedy Club in London on Monday night.

He ended his set early, and an off-duty officer who happened to be in the audience called in her colleagues. A suspect was arrested and bailed – and banned from the club.

Writing on social media, Bello said: ‘Some audience members made racist comments, used the N-word and called me a monkey during my set.

‘The police were called a statement was given. Big thanks to the other audience members who came to give me a hug… a queue was formed to offer words of comfort.

‘For the record, West End Comedy club was supportive and provided the perfect response. I love playing the club.’

The Met Police confirmed that a 28-year-old man was arrested at the gig on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence, and that he has been bailed pending further enquiries.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: 'Just after 9.30pm on Monday, 1 April, an off-duty officer called for officers to attend an entertainment venue on Great Newport Street, WC2 after a report that a performer had been racially abused by a member of the audience. Officers attended and took an account from the victim.'

 In a statement, West End Comedy Club said: ‘We want to express our sincere apologies and condemnation regarding the racist incident involving President Obonjo

‘Racism has no place at our club. We took immediate action, ending the show early and cooperating with the police.

‘We are committed to ensuring a safe, inclusive environment and are working closely with President Obonjo, who we're delighted to welcome back on May 8.’

Last year, Bello said racial abuse was on the rise after he experienced three offstage incidents during his ten-day visit to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Twice he was told to ‘go back to your country’, while in the third case, a woman repeatedly said she couldn’t see him the dark. They all occurred in public places, and in two cases fellow comedians intervened.

He said then: ‘It is exhausting to have to deal with incidents  like this, not only as it is happening but then to raise awareness afterwards.

‘Black acts should not be racially abused for visiting Edinburgh to make locals and tourists laugh. I have never experienced any racist incidents here before, but this year felt strange.’

Published: 4 Apr 2024

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