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UEA society dance instructor faces racism allegations

Richard Miller, a dance studio owner and teacher for UEA Ballroom and Latin Dance Club, has been sacked after now deleted posts emerged on social media calling for protesters from the Black Lives Matter campaign to be shot. A post on Mr Miller’s Facebook account said: “The crowd throwing things at the police and the horses. I’m sick of Black Lives Matter… you should all be locked up or even better shot” in a stunning rant against alleged violence towards police. He labelled protesters “disgusting and shameful”, saying: “if we all get locked down again then it’s your idiotic behaviour! I’m ashamed of the human race” whilst also suggesting police get “more forceful and forget allowing peaceful protests”.

The post emerged after reports and video footage showed chaotic scenes in the midst of protests against police brutality and brutal killing of George Floyd. Though reports have emerged of looting and the destruction of property, condemned by the majority of those protesting, in the United States and the United Kingdom, much of the violence has come from police and security services that have cracked down on peaceful protests. Videos have surfaced of police beating unarmed civilians whilst also using tasers and pepper spray to disperse large groups.

Mr Miller’s post received fierce backlash, with a former student of UEA and Miller Dance Studios telling Concrete: “It was surreal to see such brazen sentiments from someone you previously looked up to as a skilled teacher. This was far beyond political disagreement… directly arguing against fundamental human rights is incomparable”. Multiple sources have revealed their attempts to create a civil discourse with Mr Miller regarding his statement. The same former student told us: “I and increasing numbers of students and acquaintances made great pains to strike up civil conversation with him… In the face of a wide variety of video footage of police brutality against peaceful protesters these sentiments were sadly doubled down upon, whilst we were insulted and blocked”. Another UEA graduate told us: “The post exemplifies racism and fascist attitudes… He is a highly respected member of the dance community… this has caused a great degree of shock and anger”.

Dance company, DSI, which Mr Miller worked for as a presenter, released a statement saying: “we understand the offence the private opinions expressed by an individual on Facebook have caused. We at DSI London & DSI TV wish to make it clear that we do not share these views in any way… As a dance company, we are a multi-cultural organisation and embrace this with all our hearts… For this reason, we have dispensed with the services of this individual with immediate effect”.

Mr Miller has since removed the post and has published a public apology on Facebook. He wrote: “So I may firstly express sincere remorse to my family, my friends, all I am in a working relationship with, and especially to the whole dance community… Seeing these shocking pictures on the news, I vented my anger of criminals and anarchists highjacking a legitimate peaceful demonstration and turning it violent, particularly at this most sensitive COVID time. It is my utter conviction that the legal state represented by the police must address encountered violence with appropriate and proportionate measures to maintain law and order. This is however an entirely different subject to the ‘Black lives matter campaign’, which I wholeheartedly support and agree with. Dancing is by definition race free, and I never ever held any racist or otherwise discriminating beliefs”.

We reached out for a comment prior to this article but Mr Miller declined.

10/06/2020

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William Warnes

William Warnes

Global Editor - 2019/20

Co-Deputy Editor - 2020/21