Online debate focused on CUSU BME Campaign head's Dalston tweets

Image credit: @KTHopkins via Twitter

The president of CUSU's Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Campaign, Jason Okundaye, has created a high profile debate online after a series of tweets he made on Friday night and Saturday morning went viral.

Okundaye, who is a HSPS student at Pembroke College, took to Twitter last night to weigh in on the news of a protest that was occurring in Dalston in East London. The protest was in the aftermath of the death of Rashan Charles - a 20-year-old black man who died on Saturday after, according to unverified video footage on social media, injuries sustained whilst being restrained by police. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the incident.

Okundaye tweeted at the time: "Watching these middle-class white people despair over black people protesting in their colonised Dalston is absolutely delicious".

He continued: "ALL white people are racist. White middle class, white working class, white men, white women, white gays, white children. They can ALL geddit".

Okundaye has since deleted these tweets, and changed his Twitter account to private; however, his inflammatory tweets have spread across the internet regardless, aided by the likes of the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, and Katie Hopkins who shared a screenshot of Okundaye's tweets.

Earlier on Friday, Okundaye also tweeted: "Just caught up on the rioting, excellent stuff, smash everything #NoJusticeNoPeace".

"I hope that all the white middle-class gentrified get rushed in ends tbh cba, you lot need to go back to Solihurst or Exeter or whatever."

The CUSU BME Campaign president has faced public criticism and abuse online as a result of posting these controversial tweets, with some people calling him "racist" and others calling for Okundaye to be expelled from the University. One user on Twitter said: "@Cambridge_Uni Racist! Equality? What are you going to do about it? Throw him out? You are supporting racism!

Pembroke College made the comment: "The College is looking into the matter and will respond appropriately" and Cambridgeshire Police in a statement to The Times confirmed that they were investigating the matter.

The investigation has since been dropped, according to Okundaye who had an opinion piece published in The Guardian on 6 August in which he defends his case.

Okundaye states: "the events of last weekend have highlighted the dangers of speaking out, but, more significantly, the importance of speaking up for social justice, particularly from the perspective of a minority."

He writes that while some of his tweets were "hyperbolic", the mainstream media "misconstrued the meaning of my tweets and stripped them of proper context". He goes on to reveal the "death threats, rape threats and racist insults" he has received and the harassment his family have faced, 

Others online have also come to Okundaye's defence. FLY Cambridge, the University's network for women and non-binary people of colour, has posted a statement online in support of Okundaye in the face of "not only intense national scrutiny but vilification in the alt-right, racist press". It has also asked others to express their solidarity by signing a Google document to that effect.

Ilyas Nagdee, who is an officer for the NUS Black Students' Campaign, tweeted: "Solidarity with @jasonosamede facing bullshit from the right wing press today", and singer Lily Allen has retweeted a post saying " I will #DefendJasonOsamede. Leave young black peole [sic] alone. Signed Parents".

CUSU President Daisy Eyre declined to comment to The Cambridge Student.

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