Burnley fan behind 'White Lives Matter' banner 'offered police protection' after stunt

THE Burnley fan behind the 'White Lives Matter' banner today claimed he has been offered police protection after the idiotic stunt.

Jake Hepple, 24, claimed he wanted to "acknowledge that white lives matter too" after the banner was flown over the Etihad Stadium on Monday night.



The stunt was widely slammed by players and the footballing community alike on Tuesday – with Hepple today insisting everything had been "blown out of proportion".

He told The Mail Online: "The police told me that I haven't committed any crime and haven't done anything wrong.

"In fact, they asked me if I was OK and wanted any protection, just in case people try to target me."

And Hepple, who has previously been pictured with English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, said he wasn't racist – and that he had "lots of Black and Asian friends".

He said: "We were not trying to offend the movement or black people. I believe that it's also important to acknowledge that white lives matter too. That's all we were trying to say."

The Burnley fan had claimed responsibility for the stunt on Facebook just moments after the plane flew over the stadium, writing: "I'd like to take this time to apologise… to absolutely f***ing nobody!"

Lancashire Police had last night confirmed no criminal offences had taken place.

Ch Supt Russ Procter said: "After assessing all the information available surrounding this incident we have concluded that there are no criminal offences that have been disclosed at this time."

Burnley FC themselves confirmed overnight he was facing a lifetime ban.

Players had just taken a knee in solidarity for the global Black Lives Matter movement when the plane appeared in the sky.

'ASHAMED'

Immediately after the game, Burnley Captain Ben Mee said he had been left "ashamed" – adding "people need to come into the 21st century".

The defender blasted: "We as a group of players condemn it, we're ashamed, we're embarrassed.

"It completely misses the point of what we're trying to achieve as a football community."

Mr Hepple's employer, Paradigm Precision in Burnley, said today: "We are aware of the incident that took place and are currently investigating the conduct of our employee.

"Once we have completed our enquiries, we will release a full statement."

Burnley FC slammed the "regrettable" incident.

They said: "The club operates a zero-tolerance stance on discrimination of any form at Turf Moor and is increasingly issuing lifetime bans for supporters that incite racism and hatred.

"This punishment will also be meted out to those responsible for Monday’s regrettable incident."

This year, Prem stars have been wearing Black Lives Matters messages on the back of their shirts since the league's restart from coronavirus.

We as a group of players condemn it, we're ashamed

The Black Lives Matter movement has seen a huge wave of support since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin.

It sparked huge protests across America that have spread across the world – including demonstrations held in the UK.

Protesters have also targeted statues of historical figures including Winston Churchill as they demand Britain examine its controversial history.

But the All Lives Matter slogan has distorted the BLM message, redirecting attention from Black lives that need attention.

Burnley supporters have previously been accused of racially abusing Brighton player Gaetan Bong and Spurs striker Son Heung-min in recent years

Last year, Tottenham ejected a 13-year-old Burnley fan from the stadium for allegedly racially abusing Son Heung-min.

And a father and son were accused of hurling racist abuse at Brighton defender Gaetan Bong last year.

Lancashire Police have been approached for comment.

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