Irish musicians Hare Squead say Rory Stewart's "minor gangsters" remarks "come from a racist place"
The group says the remarks "definitely come from a racist place."
London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart falsely referred to acclaimed Dublin hip-hop act Hare Squead as "minor gangsters" during an event in London on Wednesday.
Stewart, who met the Dublin musicians while running for Tory leadership earlier this year, made the false claim while talking about social media.
He said: "One thing about social media is that it allows people to see politicians listening... I can go to Brick Lane and three sort of minor gangsters can come up to me and spend a minute telling me I’m an idiot.
"And I can film it on my phone and put it up. And people love watching people being rude to politicians."
Stewart was referring to a video that went viral wherein he met Dublin rappers Hare Squead, whose song 'If I Ask' was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2016 Choice Music Awards.
The video features Stewart, who has since resigned from the Tory party, bumping into the Dubliners on Brick Lane in London, where they have a playful and brief conversation.
— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) June 9, 2019
The group has responded to Stewart's comments with a statement issued to JOE, saying: "From the moment we saw Rory Stewart coming towards us on Brick Lane, we knew that he was only looking for a photo op. He wanted to give himself some clout in the media as someone who can connect with young black men.
"He's trying to be the mayor of one of the most culturally rich and ethnically diverse cities in the world, and yet to him we're just props for his content. We walked away from him, not just because we aren't actively engaged in politics, but also because we knew he was just trying to use us. The fake gang signs were just for bants.
"For him to turn around now and call us 'minor gangsters' just adds insult to injury, and definitely comes from a racist place. We've always made positive music, mostly love songs. His recent comments only confirmed our initial suspicions of his motives."
Some corny looking opportunistic goof called me, Tony and Sev gangsters
— LÍLO (@_FishMilk) October 25, 2019
Lilo Blues of the group has also addressed the remarks in a thread on Twitter, saying: "The fella got all giddy when he saw us from a distance and thought 'Hmm yeah black lads, this should be good content for my shitty campaign.'
"We knew what he was at from the jump but didn’t know who he was. So as soon as he said he was a politician I got turned off but respectfully told your man 'Yea grand I’m off to get some Nando's.'
"I was reluctant to be in his video, that’s why you don’t really see me in the shot at first. Did some fake gang signs for bants and it really doesn’t take a genius to clock that was us just fucking around.
"But now we’re labelled as 'minor gangsters'. Lol this is the man who’s meant to be representing London.. representing the diversity of London.. this is the guy running to be mayor n shit?? Fucking laughable."
Asked if Stewart had since been in touch with the group, a spokesperson for Hare Squead told JOE: "No, not yet."