Ben Simmons’ sister has taken to Twitter to support her brother after the NBA star claimed he was racially profiled and denied entry into a casino.
Olivia Simmons took to Twitter to criticise ‘old white Australian men’ after her brother shared a video to Instagram claiming he was not allowed to enter Crown Casino in Melbourne on Monday because of his race.
Olivia, 27, said Australia ‘needs a serious change’ and that racism shouldn’t be ignored.
‘You don’t know what it feels like to be the only person to have your bag checked when leaving a store or being denied entry for the colour of your skin,’ she said.
Olivia also criticised those who doubted her brother’s version of events.
‘I live in Melbourne so I stand by anyone who says they feel as though it was racial, chances are it was,’ she said. Australian racism is silent and because we have nobody to represent us (people of colour) on TV apart from Waleed Aly, when stories break they’re always biased and one-sided.’
Olivia said entertainment reporter Peter Ford – who openly denied Ben’s description of the incident on Twitter – was wrong in his version of events.
‘My brother doesn’t lie. Yet again another white man discrediting a black man’s experience,’ Olivia said. I think Australia is such an amazing country… what cannot be denied is we have a racism problem out here but it’s silent racism so people just sweep it under the rug.’
On Wednesday, 2GB presenter Steve Price called into question the timing of the incident, saying it could have possibly been a publicity stunt for the documentary he co-financed with Adam Goodes.
‘I wonder if this incident at the door of Crown has anything to do with a message that Ben Simmons would like to get out in America about how Australians treat people of colour,’ Mr Price said on his radio show. What better way to get your documentary noticed in America, than to post to your… Instagram followers that you’ve had a racial incident take place in Australia where the film is made.’
Journalist Peter Ford also spoke out against the Philadelphia 76ers player, saying that his denied entry had nothing to do with the colour of skin, but his ego and the fact that he didn’t abide by the casino’s strict dress code.
A spokeswoman for Crown Casino told Maybach Media on Tuesday that the group were allowed in, and denied the allegations made by Simmons.
‘Crown strenuously rejects reports that it discriminated against a group of visitors last night,’ she said. Crown’s internal security policy requires our security officers to check identification of those persons they believe to be under the age of 25, this is an enhanced safeguard to ensure that no one under the age of 18 is permitted entry to the Casino Floor as required by law.
‘The group subsequently provided identification and were permitted entry.’
Simmons also released an official statement doubling down on his claims.
‘As you know an incident happened last night at Crown and my friends and I felt personally singled out, no one likes to feel like this,’ Simmons said. I am very passionate about equality and I will always speak up even if it means having uncomfortable conversations.’