Barcelona city council has said it will report the “unacceptable” racial abuse of a black woman on a Ryanair flight from the city as a possible hate crime.
Delsie Gayle, 77, said she had felt stunned and depressed after a man shouted at her to move seats while they boarded a plane from Barcelona to Stansted last Friday.
In the footage shared on social media, the man appeared to call Gayle an “ugly black bastard” and shouted: “Don’t speak to me in a foreign language, you stupid ugly cow.”
Gayle’s daughter tried to stand up to the man and told him her mother is disabled. The man said he did not care “whether she’s fucking disabled or not. If I tell her to get out, she gets out.”
Ryanair apparently did not remove the man from the flight, instead moving Gayle from her seat.
Essex police said they had identified both parties in the incident and passed the information to Spanish authorities, who were investigating.
Barcelona’s deputy mayor, Jaume Asens, said the matter would be reported to the public prosecutor to see whether a hate crime had been committed.
“Barcelona is a welcoming and anti-racist city,” Asens wrote on Twitter. “All support to the victim.”
Asens said Ryanair’s response to the behaviour in the video was “unacceptable”, adding: “Barcelona city hall will report it. We’re looking for the video-maker and witnesses.”
A spokesman for the Civil Guard, which polices Spain’s border and airports, said the criminal investigation was a matter for British police as the plane had been bound for the UK.
Spain’s Aviation Safety and Security Agency said it was looking into the incident to see whether it had constituted a safety risk.
“We think what happened, and the racist comments made, were terrible,” a spokeswoman said. “But our responsibility is aircraft safety and we’re looking into whether or not this comes under our responsibility.”
Ryanair tweeted on Sunday that it could not comment further because the incident was now a police matter.