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Chief Meteorologist Fired After Using Racial Slur in Reference to MLK

Jeremy Kappell claims it was a mistake. "Unfortunately, I spoke a little too fast when I was referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," he said.

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.

Kappell is originally from Kentucky. According to his LinkedIn profile, he only recently moved to Rochester in October 2017.

The Conversation (17)
09 Jan, 2019

Sounds to me like it was a simple matter of him using the slur so many times in his personal life that it literally became verbiage memory (similar to muscle memory) and that’s why it fell from his lips so naturally.

Cheryl09 Jan, 2019

slip of the tongue my ass, must be something he says often. See the brain 🧠 is a organ that remembers

votetocorrect09 Jan, 2019
Jeremy Kappell was used to calling the park that racist name, and just got caught using it! His career is dead now and he deserves it!
09 Jan, 2019

They just can’t help themselves.

Chris Nicholson09 Jan, 2019

The language was very unfortunate but not a firing offense.

GoodGuyGoneBad08 Jan, 2019

This is silly. He caught it and corrected it. Should not have been fired.

Tina B09 Jan, 2019

It's unfortunate that we as a community have been hurt so badly for so long by so many white folks that we see malice where it does not exist. This was clearly an unfortunate mispronunciation, and if you've never said one word when you meant another or made a Freudian slip, then congratulations--you must be a perfect communicator! This man and his family are clearly sincere and hurt and have only respect for Dr. King. The reaction here and him losing his job are simply wrong and extremely unfortunate. But we have no hurt to feel for white guys...not even good ones. Shame on us. That we can't tell a decent guy from a racist is so sad. That we can't seem to afford to ever give the benefit of the doubt is also so sad.

Dawn09 Jan, 2019

In listening to Kappell's "apology" I was immediately irritated that he first tried to damage control the whole incident, so many of his church friends and neighbors reached out to him... Then he goes on to fake apologize, if anyone perceived I said, or felt they were hurt by... Come on!! You said it! You can't expect people to even think about forgiving you if you can't even admit that what you did was totally racist and unacceptable!

lorraine weipert09 Jan, 2019

"a slip of the tongue"???? I make slips of the tongue we all do but none of mine sound like "coon"....and especially in that context.

marl112309 Jan, 2019

WOW! Clearly, it would have been an error or mistake had he said Martin Luther kane jr park...Deliberate pronunciation

Mona09 Jan, 2019

I think that it was a subliminal; it may stem from those deep feelings about race, MLK and civil rights. If only folks could read the minds of others....I wonder what life would be like if everyone had a "truth" detector train like Pinocchio. I wonder if he is Italian? I found that a lot of Italians do not like blacks.

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