POLICE are probing an allegation of threats and verbal abuse aimed at Alvechurch Morris dancers, who were accused of being racist for wearing traditional black face paint.
The group were reportedly heckled during a performance in Birmingham on Saturday, January 7, to celebrate Plough Monday – the traditional start of the agricultural year.
A man under the name of ‘Ben’ posted a video of the performance on YouTube, which shows a man arguing with the dancers and repeatedly asking "Is this not racist?".
The group were forced to abandon their performance near the Bullring.
Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid denied traditional Morris dancers with black face paint are racist.
He said: "Plough Monday is a great English tradition which dates back to medieval times.
"I’m proud to see Morris dancers from Alvechurch upholding this agricultural ritual, which has no racial overtones whatsoever."
West Midlands Police have received a complaint regarding verbal abuse and threats made to someone linked to the dance group, but none about the performance itself.
(Click below to watch the video)
Birmingham City Centre Police Superintendent Andy Parsons, said: "We are aware of issues surrounding a Morris dancing performance in the city centre on Saturday afternoon.
"We have received one complaint regarding verbal abuse and threats made to someone linked to the dance group.
"No complaints have been made about the Morris dancing performance itself.
"Officers will be speaking with businesses in the area, viewing camera footage and taking accounts from witnesses in order to understand exactly what happened and determine if any offences were committed.
"Birmingham city centre regularly attracts street performers, preachers and entertainers.
"They contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of the area − but it’s important that such performances remain lawful, do not incite disorder and should also be mindful of cultural sensitivities.
"Our officers will take action if they believe any performance represents a public order risk."
Morris dancers have performed with traditional black face make-up since the 16th century.
The Alvechurch Morris dancers are yet to comment.