Rochester's mayor is asking for unity and empathy several days after publicly calling for a local weatherman to be fired for saying a racial slur on air.
"I think that what has shown is that there is great racial divide in our community and we need to work on moving forward and building on Dr. King's legacy,” Mayor Lovely Warren (D) said.
The incident involving former WHEC meteorologist Jeremy Kappell has continued to pick up steam in the national media.
During a broadcast, Kappell was heard saying a derogatory term while talking about the city park that bears the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — he was subsequently fired.
National figures have been outspoken on the incident, including King's daughter.
"People need an opportunity to be rehabilitated and we don't focus a lot on rehabilitation in our society today. And part of that, yes, is there has to be some repercussions. I don't think it should go as far in this particular instance as firing an individual," said Dr. Bernice King.
Warren released a statement Sunday night, two days after the broadcast aired, calling for Kappell’s firing.
At that time, she said she was not aware he had already been relieved of his job earlier that day.
Kappell issued an apology the next day, saying he jumbled his words.
"When you say something like that, you address it immediately and you say, 'sorry.' And once you do that, now you can move forward. On Sunday, that had not happened. That did not happen until Monday. So let's be clear about when the apology happened. Now that it's happened, it's time to move forward. It's time for us to really examine where we go from here,” said Warren.
The mayor is now hoping this can be a teachable moment for the community as a whole, hoping everyone can work toward being more empathetic of each other's experiences.
"We have a lot of work to do, but I know this community. This is the community of Frederick Douglass. This is the community of Susan B. Anthony. This is the community that can come together and stand up when it comes to issues and it's time for us to do that — especially when it comes down to issues of racism,” she said.
Warren did say she is willing to have a one-on-one with Kappell.
His former employer, Hubbard Broadcasting, said in a statement they stand behind their decision to terminate him from his position.