A BLACK actor has spoken out after accusing police of targeting him as he prepared for a production about racism and discrimination.

Oraine Johnson was approached by officers outside Bridport Arts Centre on Saturday ahead of Gazebo Theatre's production of Sorry! No Coloureds, No Irish, No Dogs, which explores racism, discrimination and migration. Mr Johnson said police accused him of being a drug dealer and hopes the incident "opens people's eyes" to racial profiling.

He said: "Sadly I cannot say I am shocked or surprised as this sort of handling between the police and people of my community.

"What I am shocked about is that this happened whilst touring a show which is all about highlighting racial injustices through institutionalised racist systems that has affected black people in this country since the transatlantic slave trade."

He added: "An apology from the officers after they dealt with me would have been nice, after they in such small talk asked me, what am I doing here and you look like a drug dealer.

"As an artist I believe this problem will not even start to be solved until we start tackling representation regarding diversity and ethnic minorities in our media so that people and others can see us in a different light breaking stereotypical boundaries and speak about our achievements more than one month of the year.

"I would hope this incident opens people's eyes to the still very prevalent racial issues in this country. I believe we still have far to go."

Sorry! No Coloureds, No Irish, No Dogs is a response to events taking place across the UK and internationally.

Peter Wilson, who witnessed the incident take place, said officers were "quite aggressive" and labelled it as "totally unacceptable".

Pamela Cole-Hudson, chief executive and artistic director of Gazebo Theatre, said: "Incidents such as this are exactly what we aim to highlight.

"For our actor to be racially profiled whilst preparing for a performance of a show exploring racism and discrimination is both sadly ironic and telling. Unfortunately in 2017, racism is still alive and well and hate crimes are on the increase across the country and internationally."

Bridport Neighbourhood Inspector Neil Wood, said officers spoke to Mr Johnson in a "routine stop and account enquiry" and denied that officers acted aggressively.

He said: “Police officers spoke to a man outside Bridport Arts Centre as part of a routine stop and account enquiry on the afternoon of Saturday, May 6.

“After he explained his presence at the location, officers fully described the reason for their enquiry and thanked him for his time. At no point were officers aggressive toward the man.

“Our local neighbourhood policing team was carrying out intelligence-led patrols in relation to specific issues of drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour in that area. Our officers conducted two other stop and account enquiries and one stop and search – these were with three white men."

He added: “The use of any street intervention powers by officers must be in absolute accordance with our values and in support of our objectives to make Dorset safer.

“The force has voluntarily signed up to the Home Office Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme and is investing time in training staff in relation to reasonable grounds and the issue of unconscious bias.

“We have not received a direct complaint about this incident from the individual concerned. However, I will be making every effort to contact him in order to look into this matter further. I would also like to invite him to join us on patrols as part of our lay observer scheme to show him how Bridport police operate.”

The Dorset Race Equality Council said incidents like this can “erode trust” in police.

Jane Jones, community development officer for Dorset Race Equality Council, said: “Disproportionality in stop and search is an issue that has been of concern to Dorset Race Equality Council for a number of years and we work closely with community members and Dorset Police to explore the reasons why people from ethnic minority and particularly black backgrounds are significantly more likely to be stopped and questioned or searched by the police than those who are white British.

“The impact of this phenomenon is damaging both to ethnic minority individuals and communities who feel unfairly targeted and it can erode their trust in law enforcement, leading to other negative consequences such as the underreporting of race hate crime. This is why Dorset Race Equality Council has recruited a panel of community members to work closely with Dorset Police in order to build positive relations and offer critical input that can be used to improve police policies and practices.”