A man dressed as a bear has been beaten up and racially abused by a gang of teenagers in a shopping centre in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. The group of between six and ten lads approached the man, who was dressed as Billy the BrightHouse bear to do promotional work in the Shires Shopping Centre and attacked him.
"Two of them punched him and shouted racist abuse at him, before the group walked away," said a spokeswoman for Wiltshire police. "They then returned around 15 to 20 minutes later, and the man was hit again.
The man was not injured, but has been left upset by what happened," she added.
The man was one of two people inside bear costumes to promote the opening of the new BrightHouse store in The Shires. But mystery surrounds one aspect of the assault. The victim, who is of mixed-race, was subjected to racist abuse by the gang. "We're not exactly sure how the gang knew the victim was mixed-race, because he had a bear costume on at the time, so they couldn't have known that," said a police spokeswoman.
"We are sure the racism wasn't anti-bear, but it is quite puzzling."
The fact the man had a full bear costume, including a bear's head over his own head means the description of the gang is 'vague'. "There is only a vague description of the offenders," she added. "One was stocky build and wearing a green sweatshirt, while another was wearing a beanie hat."
Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact the police.