Content Warning: This article contains a photograph that features a flag commonly associated with Neo-Nazis.
On Friday night, an attendee of the Durham Polo Ball, said to be from another university, was pictured waving a flag commonly used by Neo-Nazis.
The flag in question is the German Imperial Flag. According to the ADL, a leading anti-hate organisation, due to the swastika and other nazi imagery being banned in Germany, the flag is commonly used by Neo-Nazi groups instead. Its use has also been documented in the United States and elsewhere in Europe.
A Durham student at the event told Palatinate: “After the band finished their set, they then played ‘Jerusalem’ over the PA in the room where people were dancing. People were singing and a member of the crowd brought out a German Imperial war flag.
“This has been used in recent years by a number of fascist and hate groups. White tie balls have a reputation for politically incorrect behaviour but this sort of behaviour has no place in Durham and in society.”
Another student in attendance expressed their shock: “I went to the ball as a guest, and I have never felt so alienated and embarrassed by this University. I was shocked, but not entirely surprised. Another guest tried to pull the flag down, but the individual, along with his friends carried on. What hurt the most, was that no one else, tried to stop him, and the flag was flown at the front of the crowd.
“This must have been pre-meditated, and I am so scared that this individual feels that they have a safe place to express these views.
“People were singing and a member of the crowd brought out a German Imperial war flag.”
This incident sparked a response from Durham’s Jewish Society, they told Palatinate the society are “appalled and shocked to hear about the actions carried out by the guest at the Ball. If anyone was impacted by the event in question, please contact us directly and we will respond ASAP.”
An investigation has been launched after the Polo Club and Durham University were made aware of the incident. Professor Jacqui Ramagge, Executive Dean (Science) of Durham University, said: “As soon as we became aware of the incident, we launched an urgent internal investigation and the matter has been reported to the police.
We do not accept any form of prejudice or discrimination, and we condemn any such incidents in the strongest possible terms
“Although we believe the photographs were taken at an event hosted by a student sports club, we believe the individual photographed was from a visiting club. We are seeking to contact this club urgently.
“We do not accept any form of prejudice or discrimination, and we condemn any such incidents in the strongest possible terms.
“We are working to eliminate discrimination, prejudice and harassment, and nurture an open and inclusive environment where all members of our community can achieve their full potential.”
When approached by Palatinate, the Durham Polo Club echoed the University’s sentiment: “We do not accept any form of prejudice or discrimination, and we condemn any such incidents in the strongest possible terms. We would like to take this opportunity to state that Durham University and the Polo Club wholeheartedly abhor the racist sentiments behind this action.”
“The Durham University Polo Club have taken this matter to the police and are continuing to investigate the matter further. The Polo Club Executive Committee have also been in contact with the university since the incident occurred.
“It is very upsetting for our club that such an incident occurred, at what had been a very enjoyable and successful event.”
Image: pdam2 via Creative Commons