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Bectu suspends Grip branch president after alleged “racist behavior” – fitshopee

EXCLUSIVE: Britain’s creative industry union Bectu has opened an investigation into a suspected race-insensitive incident involving Ken Ashley-Johnson, the chairman of his adhesion branch, on the set of a recent shoot. As part of the process, Ashley-Johnson has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Deadline saw a letter sent by the shoot’s producers to the union detailing the allegations, and details have been verified by those with direct knowledge of the incident. The Instagram account @ advertising.accountability, which denounces racism in the creative industries, also published documents that correspond to the report filed with Bectu. The production was a music video for British rapper Shygirl and Ashley-Johnson was employed to operate a crane on set.

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The letter details an incident that took place on May 20, 2021, in which Ashley-Johnson, who is white, allegedly used the N word in front of the black crew, referred to as blacks as “blacks,” and said that the United States is “stuck in slavery”.

Contacted by Deadline, Ashley-Johnson did not respond to the request for comment. He specializes in crane work and car rigs and has movie credits including jobs on the James Bond film Spectrum and a 2014 Star wars turn, alongside TV credits such as Big Brother and The X factor, according to an online CV.

The letter notes how several statements from the team corroborate an incident where Ashley-Johnson approached three black members of the production and greeted them by saying “Wagwan” while speaking in a “Jamaican patois accent caricature,” which that he hadn’t done before. non-black crew members. He then reportedly struck up an unprovoked conversation about the differences between racism in the UK and the US, stating that racism in the UK “doesn’t seem to be so much of a problem” and that the US is “stuck in a stalemate”. on slavery, even though it was 100 years ago [and] they just can’t get over it ”.

The statements allege that Ashley-Johnson subsequently made inappropriate comments comparing interracial couples from the UK and the US, in which he used the N word, “spelled out with a hard ‘r”.

Ashley-Johnson is also accused of telling three production staff of color that if they weren’t able to do their jobs, they should “consider becoming a bus driver or a nurse” as the industry creative “requires skill”. The producers say it was discriminatory because it stereotyped the work associated with immigrant communities in London.

Two of the statements are described in the aforementioned Instagram post, which is linked at the bottom of this article. One said Ashley-Johnson’s comments left the crew “surprised”, “uncomfortable” and “calm.” Another says they were “at a loss for words” after the rant, which lasted five to ten minutes, and that such comments inflict a “level of burden, duress and trauma”.

The producers say in the Bectu letter that Ashley-Johnson was fired from the set after being made aware of the incident. According to the letter, the grip apologized for his actions, claiming that many of his friends are black and that he came from an area of ​​London which has a large ethnic minority community, before adding that “you can’t say anything these these days “. and “political correctness went too far”. He would also have been “quite threatening” when he left.

The producers say the behavior was “discriminatory” and add that “malicious intent does not define racism and discrimination” and that the team were “traumatized and upset” and “did not feel safe in their own home. [Ashley-Johnson’s] presence”.

Musician Shygirl also commented on @ advertising.accountability’s Instagram post, writing: “It was on my set… on top of all the misogyny that went on daily during the shoot, it really was the icing on the cake… So many people let that shit slip away and the women have to come in and complain at the end. “

The Instagram post features an email from Suz Cruz’s Sue Yardley, who is reserving a crew for UK productions, addressing the alleged incident. He says Ashley-Johnson meant no “malice or intent”, noting that he was raised “with West Indian families in London” and that “some of his best friends and co-workers are black”.

Contacted by Deadline, Sue Yardley said she was unable to comment during an ongoing investigation, but that her company was “committed to improving diversity and inclusion, and doing everything in our power. power to ensure that filming is safe and inclusive ”.

Bectu sent us the following statement:

“There is no place for racism in the creative industries or in unions. Bectu will continue to challenge and eradicate these odious opinions wherever they occur, including any incident involving union representatives.

“We received a complaint last week regarding an incident involving a representative of the Bectu branch. We have taken decisive action, immediately starting our disciplinary process to deal with this matter. We are also in contact with the production company and the complainants about the next steps.

“The trade union movement is built on solidarity. Campaigning for equality and combating prejudice is at the heart of our identity. Bectu will continue to campaign for a more diverse and inclusive creative sector.

Instagram post @ advertising.accountability is linked here.

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