During a Friday night broadcast, meteorologist Jeremy Kappell referred to a park in downtown Rochester, N.Y., named after slain civil rights hero Martin Luther King as “Martin Luther Coon Park.”
Initially, Kappell denied that the slur was ever said. But on the broadcast, he is clearly heard “correcting” the term with “King.” He then said it was an accident. Two very different sounding words and one that’s not commonly used unless it’s a slur. But OK. Kappell blamed the “error” on speaking too quickly.
He posted a video on Facebook further explaining what happened.
“Unfortunately, I spoke a little too fast when I was referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” he said.
Viewers immediately called for Kappell to be terminated. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council President Loretta Scott said, in a joint statement: “It was wrong, hurtful and infuriating.”
“It is beyond unacceptable that this has occurred. There must be real consequences for the news personality involved and also for the management team that failed to immediately apologize and address the slur.”
The Rochester Association of Black Journalists also issued a statement: “This is completely unacceptable and contrary to all standards of broadcasting. While we are aware that the station has issued an apology, we expect a complete explanation of what happened, who was responsible and why nothing was said immediately after the Friday broadcast. We also want to know what measures will be taken to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future.”
Kappell was reportedly terminated by the news station. WHEC’s vice president and general manager Richard A. Reingold issued an apology and a statement released Sunday:
“I apologize for our broadcast of a racial slur in a reference to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park during our Friday evening broadcast. The station holds reporters and anchors ‘to the highest standard.’ These words have no place on News 10 NBC’s air, and the fact that we broadcast them disheartens and disgusts me; that it was not caught immediately is inexcusable.”
There are some people who showed their support for Kappell via Twitter.