‘BRIDPORT is better than this’ is the message after a group were racially attacked and spat at in the town centre.

And in a separate hate crime incident in the town, a man was headbutted and another had homophobic abuse shouted at him.

Police were called just after 2.30pm on Friday to reports a group of people were being racially abused by a man who was also said to have spat at them outside Waitrose in West Street.

Witnesses said a store security guard stepped into help the group.

Waitrose said the security guard did what he could to help and was thanked for his efforts.

A spokesman for a local network group supporting Black Lives Matter and anti-racism, said the abuse was ‘appalling’ and ‘strengthens the network’s commitment to work proactively for race equality in Bridport’.

“By coincidence, one current project began delivery on the same day as the attack,” they said.

“We are visiting shops, cafés and businesses in the town centre and West Bay with powerful posters to display which illustrate that racism is not tolerated in Bridport.” Some places have been warmly welcoming and responsive - but not all, maybe citing ‘head office rules’ or that they simply ‘don’t accept posters’. We would urge all of our local businesses in the town and West Bay to find ways around those barriers - let’s have these positive images everywhere and make sure that there’s no place for racism in Bridport.

“If people want to show their support for BLM in Bridport, we welcome them to join us and take part in the work we are doing. You can email the network on blm2020.bridport@yahoo.com.”

Bridport mayor, Cllr Ian Bark said: “Violence of any kind is something I abhor. Violence that is motivated by hate is particularly abhorrent.

“I was shocked to hear that there had been a racially motivated attack outside Waitrose. Bridport is better than this. We are a rights respecting town where all are welcome and respected.”

Cllr Ros Kayes echoed Cllr Bark’s message and said the incident was ‘very sad’.

She said: “We are better than that in Bridport and I really hope people don’t see us as a racist town. I know plenty of people will be horrified.

“We all need to speak up against racism in all its forms but especially when we see it happening in the street.

“My heart goes out to the victims of this attack.”

Police said a 38-year-old local man was arrested in Bucky Doo Square on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and common assault. He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: “Dorset Police takes all reports of hate crimes very seriously and officers are carrying out a full investigation into this incident.”

n In an unrelated incident, a man was headbutted and another had homophobic abuse shouted at him in a hate crime in the town.

At 11.40pm on Saturday, September 5, Dorset Police received a report of a fight at the Neon Bar & Grill on East Street.

It is reported that a man headbutted one person and then attempted to fight with a security guard who was asking him to leave the building.

As the man left the bar, it is reported that he shouted homophobic abuse to a man who was waiting in the queue outside.

A 30-year-old man from the Dorchester area was arrested on suspicion of assault and using racially or religiously aggravated words with the intent of causing harassment, alarm or distress. He has been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

PC Dan White, of Bridport police, said: “While I appreciate this incident took place over a week ago, I understand there were a number of people outside the bar who may have witnessed what happened.

“I would urge anyone who has not already spoken to police to please get in touch with information that may assist my investigation.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting incident number 55200133682.