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BBC Reporter Racially Abused in Leicester While Covering the Coronavirus Crisis

BBC Reporter Racially Abused in Leicester While Covering the Coronavirus Crisis

Police in Leicester have launched an investigation after a BBC reporter was racially abused while covering the on-going coronavirus crisis. The BBC reporter, Sima Kotecha, was preparing for a live broadcast on Sunday evening in the Leicester city centre when she was targeted with abuse, forcing her to cancel the upcoming broadcast.

The BBC have confirmed that an investigation into the matter has been opened, and reiterated that abuse of their staff will not be tolerated. The incident also prompted other reporters to comment on the racist abuse they received while covering the coronavirus crisis.

“Apologies – but man shouting terrible things at me has ruined it for everyone”

The attack took place in the Leicester city centre on Sunday evening, as BBC reporter, Sima Kotecha, prepared for a live broadcast to cover the aftermath of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation. As she prepared, Kotecha, her interview guests and her team were approached by a man who subjected the group to “racist and abusive behaviour” without going into detail of what took place.

As a result of the incident, Kotecha had to cancel the live broadcast, sending her guest interviewees and her team home.

In the aftermath of the incident, BBC issued a statement, confirming what had taken place, describing the incident as appalling and reporting the incident to the police. Kotecha was also contacted by Simon Cole, the chief constable of Leicestershire police, Simon Cole, who expressed regret over the incident and said that he was working with his team to resolve the incident.

Subsequently on Tuesday, Leicestershire police announced that a 50-year-old man named Russell Rawlingson was arrested and charged over the incident. Rawlingson has denied the accusations.

“I cannot tell you how many racist, vile, hateful messages I’ve received over the past few weeks whilst covering the #COVID19 crisis”

The attack on Kotecha came at a time of rising suspicion towards journalists and increasing number of attacks aimed at reporters, especially those coming of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Just a day before the attack on Kotecha, fellow reporter Inzamam Rashid from Sky News tweeted that he had received many “racist, vile, hateful messages” over the recent weeks while covering the coronavirus outbreak. Rashid, who has been vocal about the impact COVID-19 is having on BAME communities, said that he was used to receiving regular abuse but said that intensity of the abuse in recent weeks had “shocked” him.

Rashid thanked his employers at Sky for their support but said that the replies from social media companies, Instagram and Twitter where he reported the abuse, had been lacklustre. He said that social media companies need to do more about such abuse and added that many BAME journalists targeted by such abuse do not like to talk about it.

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