Woman 'accused of racism by white staff' at Bristol venue

Marie O'Shepherd Image copyright Marie O'Shepherd
Image caption Marie O'Shepherd is due to give a statement to police on Friday

A mixed-race woman who said she was accused of "racism against white people" by nightclub cloakroom staff has reported the incident to police.

Marie O'Shepherd, 32, said it happened while she was collecting her coat after a Matt Corby gig at SWX in Bristol.

She said the man who took her cloakroom ticket accused her of being racist as "all the guys here are white and I can't tell them apart".

The BBC contacted SWX, which said it did not want to comment.

Ms O'Shepherd said after the concert had finished, she and her husband went to get their coats.

'Absurd accusations'

She said: "We were left waiting far longer than anyone else. A staff member said it wasn't he who had served me and dismissed me.

"He and a few staff went out back and my coat was thrown to the floor. The staff member then publicly and repeatedly accused me of being racist because I couldn't tell the white members of staff apart.

"Whenever I tried to speak, he loudly repeated his absurd accusations. Other staff didn't intervene. It was the highly professional and friendly security team that helped me speak to the bar manager and eventually get our coats."

Ms O'Shepherd, a publishing art director from Bristol, said: "I've experienced discrimination and it's awful.

"I am mixed race: white and Asian. I grew up within two cultures of which I'm extremely proud.

"Out of respect for my parents I won't discuss their experiences, but my mother is Pakistani-born British and my father is a white man from Cumbria.

"People like my parents changed the world for the better, making it a more tolerant place. How dare this man be so disrespectful and ignorant as to use a word he clearly doesn't understand?"

She reported the incident to charity Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI), which reported it to Avon and Somerset Police as racial harassment. Ms O'Shepherd is due to give a statement to police on Friday.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: "We can confirm we've received a report from a third party of a racially aggravated public order incident at Bristol's SWX nightclub.

"A woman in her 30s was verbally abused by a man on 28 January. Inquiries into the incident are ongoing."

Image caption Marie O'Shepherd posted her experience on Instagram

Ms O'Shepherd said she had received support on Instagram after what happened, both from friends and people she has never met.

Alex Raikes, from SARI, said: "We are glad that Marie has reported her concerns - reporting is critical as if people don't speak out, those who perpetrate hate crime get away with it and more people will suffer."

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