Abusive heckling of Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned


Politicians and public figures have condemned aggressive and potentially racist heckling targeting the Mayor of London.

A video, which appears to have been filmed last Thursday, shows protestors shouting at the Mayor as he walks into City Hall.

Mr Khan remained impassive as demonstrators swore at him and seemed to use a racist slur.

The hecklers appeared to be black cab drivers who object to recent London road closures as part of the Mayor’s response to coronavirus.

Mr Khan has said he wants to avoid a “car-led recovery” from Covid-19, and has funded temporary cycle lanes, widened pavements, traffic filters and road closures.

These measures are to encourage more commuters to walk or cycle and reduce strain on public transport while social distancing continues.

But black cab drivers have said banning them from streets is increasing strain on their livelihoods after passenger numbers dropped during lockdown.

In the video – which has now been viewed 1.5 million times – one demonstrator called on the Mayor to “give us back our streets” and accused him of being a “hypocrite”.

“Photo opportunity on a bike, the next day you’re in your Range Rover with a bodyguard,” one yelled.

“You’re not the Mayor of London, you’re the destroyer of London,” another shouted.

Several protestors yell “black cab lives matter”, adapting the phrase “black lives matter” which became a rally cry during anti-racist protests this summer.

The 54-second clip shows the abusive language quickly escalated as the Mayor walked away, with demonstrators repeatedly swearing at him.

One appeared to use a racist slur, commenting on the size of Mr Khan’s nose.

The video, uploaded by Ilford Cllr Khayer Chowdhury (Lab), has been widely condemned by politicians and public figures.

Shadow Justice Secretary and Tottenham MP David Lammy shared his solidarity with the Mayor on Twitter.

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“No one in public or private life deserves this despicable abuse,” he wrote.

ITV Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan also criticised the “absolutely repellent” rant.

“Whether you like him or not (I do) Sadiq Khan does not deserve this kind of mindless Neanderthal abuse,” he said in a Tweet.

Labour leader Keir Starmer also shared his support, calling Mr Khan “an inspiration”.

“The first Muslim mayor of a major western city and a source of pride for us all,” he said in a Tweet. “We’ll never let those who seek to divide us win.”

Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green London Assembly members have also condemned the attack on the Mayor on Twitter.

Assembly Labour leader Len Duvall said the video was “utterly disgraceful and deserves widespread condemnation”.

“This abuse has no place in our city or our country,” he said.

“Sadiq Khan might be Mayor, that doesn’t make him fair game for this kind of vitriolic aggression,” he added.

Green Assembly member and Mayoral candidate Sian Berry also condemned the video.

“The far right targets the Mayor in the most appalling ways because they are abominable racists,” she said.

“But also because they can’t bear that he has power and that Londoners consistently reject their attempts to promote hate and division.”

But Assembly Conservative leader Susan Hall claimed viewers should “cut [black cab drivers] some slack” when watching the video.

“I saw the video and yes the language was strong,” she said.

“However these poor black cabbies are facing serious financial challenges and Khan’s street disruption is causing them even more problems.”

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