WIN Tv fires journalist for Facebook rant
Journalist Darryl Heeralal was fired yesterday as a freelance television reporter by WIN Communications, after he posted statements deemed racially offensive on Facebook on Sunday.
After being fired, Heeralal put another posting on Facebook yesterday afternoon, this time an apology. He apologised for his "vile words, racist statements" and "lack of humanity."Sunil Ramdeen, WIN's general manager, confirmed Heeralal's freelance contract with the company had been ended with immediate effect after a discussion with him yesterday.
He said: "Company representatives talked with Heeralal and after those discussions we will like to inform the national community he will no longer be affiliated with WIN Communications in any capacity."We believe in equality of representation by the media for all our citizens, wherever they may be, from Cedros to the Beetham and Sea Lots."
A Queen's Royal College old boy and a resident of Chaguanas, Heeralal raised a hornet's nest and incurred the wrath of many of his Facebook friends and other readers when he referred to Sea Lots residents using the degrading n-word several times. Heeralal also threw in a comment about some East Indians, referring to "stosh (sic) c---ies" and comparing them to "rancid coconut oil."
He was commenting on angry protests by Sea Lots residents on Sunday after six of their neighbours were hit by a speeding car driven by a police officer.Haydee Paul, 28, and her daughters Ruthie, eight, and Shakira, seven, returning home from the nearby Central Market, died on the spot. Residents blocked the highway and were involved in clashes with the police, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue them.
Ramdeen said in an earlier statement that WIN condemned "in the strongest possible way" Heeralal's statements, which in no way reflected the views of the company, which was shocked, taken aback and repulsed by Heeralal's comments.He said the media were charged with a responsibility to represent the views of all the people.
He added: "That responsibility is even deeper in countries such as T&T, which comprises a mixture of ethnic as well as social groups. Even more than politicians, the media in T&T must guard jealously the fundamental values that allow us to transcend racism and divisiveness and champion the cause of togetherness and national unity.
Ramdeen, further explaining why the company fired Heeralal, told the T&T Guardian the company would not have been able to send someone harbouring such views to cover the Sea Lots story.
What Heeralal wrote:
Because "woman and children get bounce and dead," the people from Sea Lots "decide to riot...and then the government will have to give them handouts..."The "rest of the hard-working law-abiding Africans and Indians" would continue to live in fear," he said, suggesting the rest of the population should arm themselves and shoot the rioters in the head.
Heeralal's apology yesterday
"On Sunday February 24 I made comments about the unfortunate and horrific accident at Sea Lots which took the lives of two children, their mother, a fourth woman and injured two others.
"My statements can only be described as racist, insensitive, unfortunate, uncaring and crass. And for it I apologise unreservedly, firstly to the people of Sea Lots, Beetham Gardens, Laventille, Maloney and also to all those whom I offended by my racist and inappropriate statements.
"I also wish to apologise to my friends, many of whom are of African heritage, and especially to my former wife and daughter, both of whom share an African heritage."In posting my comments I had sought to draw attention to crime, urban poverty and fear in the society. However, I definitely misspoke, spoke out of time and in so doing I have brought irreparable harm, damage and unnecessary pain by my vile words to those who were impacted by the accident in this their time of grief.
"My statements were particularly unfortunate, especially coming in the midst of the sorrow, hurt and pain caused by the accident and the plight of the people of Sea Lots. "I take full responsibility and accept the full consequences of my actions and again apologise to all those who have been impacted by my lack of judgment and humanity."