Following the "white lives matter" banner scandal at Etihad Stadium, a Burnley FC fan has taken responsibility for the incident. Owning up to the stunt has taken a toll on Jake Hepple and people close to him. His family has received threats, while his partner ended up losing her job due to her own allegedly racist comments. Hepple was also let go by his employers.
Hepple had been employed by the engineering firm Paradigm Precision. The 24-year-old welder from Colne, near Burnley, was investigated by his employers after Monday's incident. Lancashire Police stopped investigating him as he had not committed any crime by flying the controversial banner over the stadium. However, his employers were not supportive of his actions and decided to fire him.
Meanwhile, Hepple's partner, Meghan Rambadt, had been working for Solace Foot Health and Reflexology. The small business was notified by Twitter users of some problematic tweets made my Rambadt. She quickly deleted her twitter profile in the aftermath of the backlash. However, her employers had already seen the tweets she had posted. In one of her tweets, she wrote- "I love Burnley but I must admit it's pretty grim, that town centre is like a foreign country needs sorting."
The reflexology centre first tweeted that they were investigating the social media posts by the employee. Three official statements were made by the business to tackle the incident. At first, the business stated that Rambadt would be suspended. Then, they said that they were willing to pay for her racial sensitivity training. However, after a prolonged conversation with Rambadt, the owners decided to let her go.
Hepple claimed that 60 fans contributed to the banner stunt. They crowd-funded to raise £600 to pay for the banner to be flown during the match on Monday. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Hepple claimed that the police offered him and his family protection, as they have been receiving threats. He also stated that he did not regret orchestrating the stunt. Emphasising that he is not a racist, Hepple claimed that people were overreacting to the stunt.
Pointing out that he had black and Asian friends, Hepple claimed that the banner was inspired by the Black Lives Movement. According to him, the message he wanted to share was that white lives matter too and that they were not trying to offend black people.