EPL

Kick It Out responds to 'White Lives Matter Burnley' banner as Blackpool airport investigates

By Sports Desk June 23, 2020

Kick It Out has said it will continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement and fight for greater equality after a controversial banner marred Burnley's Premier League fixture at Manchester City.

A plane carrying the message 'White Lives Matter Burnley' was spotted after players from both teams took a knee at the Etihad Stadium.

The gesture has been used as a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and a feature of top-flight matches since the league's return from the coronavirus suspension last week.

Burnley acted quickly to release a statement condemning those responsible for the "offensive" banner, with manager Sean Dyche saying the sign was "completely unacceptable" and captain Ben Mee saying the players were left feeling "ashamed" and "embarrassed".

Equality and inclusion group Kick It Out has now responded to the incident with a statement posted on Twitter.

"Fighting for equality requires addressing injustice – imbalances that plague our society and prevent everyone from receiving fair treatment," the statement read.

"The point of Black Lives Matter is not to diminish the importance of other people's lives. It is to address an imbalance and highlight that black people are denied certain human rights simply by virtue of the colour of their skin.

"It is about equality. We shall continue to support the Black Lives Matter and the fight for greater equality for all in football."

The incident has been widely condemned, and Stephen Smith – Blackpool airport manager – said it was "reprehensible" and that the airport is investigating after suspending all banner towing operations.

"Blackpool Airport and Blackpool Council are outraged by this incident. We stand against racism of any kind and absolutely do not condone the activity, the message was offensive and the action reprehensible," he said via a statement.

"The decision to fly the banner was taken entirely by the banner flying company without the knowledge or approval of the airport or Blackpool Council. Due to the nature of the activity, banners are not checked before take-off and the content is at the operator's discretion.

"The incident was reported to the police yesterday evening [Monday] and the Civil Aviation Authority has been notified. Blackpool Airport are investigating the banner operator in question and further action will be taken by the board [on Wednesday].

"Following an emergency review this morning Blackpool Airport will suspend all banner towing operations at the airport with immediate effect and we would suggest that other airports should also consider this approach in light of what has happened at Blackpool."

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