A professional basketball player says he was racially abused in the car park of a Yorkshire shopping centre and told to ‘go back to his own country’ after a vehicle hit his car.
Zach Gachette, who plays for Sheffield Sharks, says the incident happened on Bank Holiday Monday at the Junction 32 retail outlet near Castleford, West Yorkshire.
He says he was told to ‘f*** off back to your own country’ by a man after attempting to exchange details with the man's partner, whose car had reversed into him.
A video that Zach took of an exchange in which he challenged the man following the alleged racist abuse has now been viewed more than 1.5 million times on Facebook.
The 26-year-old, who is from London and has represented Great Britain at youth level, says he was shocked by the incident, as well as the reaction of passers-by in the aftermath.
He said he decided to post the video online after reporting the incident to police and being told there was little chance of prosecution. He said he was shocked by what happened.
“I just thought racism was in the past, I actually did. I couldn’t believe it. I have always prided myself on being British and being English. I was born and raised in East London, I support West Ham, I eat pie and mash every Saturday.”
He said the incident happened in the early afternoon on Monday, May 29, when he was driving through the car park at Junction 32. Mr Gachette said a woman reversed into his vehicle, causing minor damage, and when he got out to exchange details with her a man who was a passenger in the car confronted him.
“The lady had given me her name and had begun to give me her address. At this point, the gentleman got out of the car and was swearing at me and his wife too. I walked away and said ‘You are not the driver, I want to talk to your wife’. He told his wife ‘You don’t tell him anything’.
“He said to me ‘F*** off back to your own country’.”
Mr Gachette said that it was at this point he began filming what was happening as the exchange continued.
He said that a group of people who had not witnessed what happened then came over to intervene on behalf of the older man, while security guards also came across.
Mr Gachette said the group told him he couldn’t speak to the man in the way he was because the man had ‘fought for this country’ and also criticised him for swearing.
He said since posting the video he has had a largely positive response - but has also been sent further racist abuse online.
“The reason I didn’t get back in the car is these people have to be challenged, I wasn’t going to back down or be intimidated,” he said.
The first video shows Mr Gachette asking the man “Do you have anything else to say?”
The man replies “F*** off”.
Mr Gachette says: “You have just given me racial abuse and told me to go back to my own country.”
The man replies: “Aren’t you a darling? Are you a girl?”
Mr Gachette says: “You have told me to go back to my own country after I’m British, I have got a British passport.”
The man says: “Have you really?”
Mr Gachette says: “You are so ignorant mate. Never in my life has anyone told me to go back to my own country, this is my country.”
The man walks up to him and responds: “Why don’t you hit me?”
Mr Gachette then says: “I don’t need to hit you, you are an old man.”
He then calls the man a “racist p****” who has told him to go back to his own country. The man says: “I never said owt like that.”
A second video posted by Mr Gachette shows another man getting involved in the dispute and saying of the other party: “This gentleman has fought for this country and you are giving him bad-mouth in front of everybody.”
Mr Gachette responds: “My granddad fought for this country, what is the difference?”
Mr Gachette said in his Facebook post about the incident: “Never in my life have I been a victim of any racial discrimination until today and what made it worse was that a group of strangers would rather support an old racist man publicly abusing me, rather than a young black male sticking up for himself and his rights whilst being wronged.
“Their excuse was that he fought in a war and is the reason why I am here, which was purely an assumption based on him being old when he isn’t even old enough to have fought in any war (of which I also had family members both black and white fight).
“Furthermore I am also considered to be the disrespectful one for swearing whilst there are kids present, whilst their kids are susceptible to hearing a white man telling a young British black male, to ‘f off’ back to his own country.
“If you watch these videos I apologise for my poor language however I must admit I lost my temper... especially considering I have represented my/this country before as an athlete which is automatically disregarded because I haven’t fought in a war and because I’m black!”