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Man Who Had Racist Outburst Claims He’s Not Racist

The British man who unleashed a racist rant on a fellow airplane passenger earlier this month says he’s “not a racist person by any means,” the Guardian reports. Calling the woman, who is black, an “ugly black bastard,” on the Oct. 19 Ryanair flight was “just a fit of temper,” David Mesher said in a Good Morning Britain interview that aired Friday. After all, Mesher explained, he had asked 77-year-old Delsie Gayle to get up from her seat (he was window; she was aisle), but “she didn’t seem to want to get up. I probably lost my temper a bit and ordered her to get up.” Why he asked her to move in the first place, however, wasn’t made clear in the interviewBusiness Insider notes. Video of the incident on YouTube had more than 1.4 million views as of this writing.

In the video, Mesher is seen verbally assaulting Gayle—”If you don’t go to another seat, I’ll push you to another seat,” he threatens—as passengers try to calm the situation, some calling for Mesher to be thrown off the plane. Instead, Gayle is moved to another seat, leaving Mesher with a row to himself. Some have called for a boycott of Ryanair for how it handled the situation. But in a statement, the airline says that it became aware of the footage a day after the incident and then contacted police, adding that the crew was not aware of the racist slurs being lobbed at Gayle at the time. During his Good Morning Britaininterview, Mesher apologized. “I don’t think so,” Gayle said when asked if she accepted the apology. “You must forget and forgive, but it’s going to take a long time for me to get over what he has done to me.”

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