In a video shot June 4th at the New Haven Food Truck Festival, radio personality and actor Gary Craig mocks Mexican food vendors and their menus, vulgarizes a popular Hispanic dish and says he has to “tell Donald Trump about this place. He might want to build a wall around it.”
The wall that appears to be rising rapidly, however, is between the state’s large Latino population and Craig along with WTIC-FM, also know as 96.5 TIC-FM, where he is the morning drive-time disc jockey.
The barrier began to take shape Tuesday as the Latino community and Hartford officials, including Mayor Luke Bronin, objected to the racism they saw in a video Craig posted on Facebook and other sites from the previous weekend’s Hartford Latino Festival. Craig, among other things, described this festive gathering as “some kind of parallel universe or something.”
Tuesday afternoon, when told some people were offended by his video, Craig said that he was “sorry to hear it” and “was just having some fun.” He also said he would take the video down from his Facebook page immediately.
By late Tuesday, the Hartford video had been removed from Craig’s and 96.5 TIC’s Facebook pages, from the stations website and from Youtube.com. Moreover, the station and the radio personality issued apologies that night. On Wednesday morning, Craig was absent from his usual 5:30 a.m. broadcast stint.
However, disenchantment with the radio personality and the station continued to mount and spread to New Haven when Craig’s food truck video resurfaced late Wednesday and was posted on CTLatinoNews.com.
Angel Fernandez-Chavero, a longtime Latino community activist in New Haven who played a prominent role in stopping racial profiling by the East Haven police force a few years ago, observed, “WTIC management may wish to hide behind that wise saying, ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,’ and fire Mr. Craig, since this second video proves that the original wasn’t a one-off.”
State Rep. Angel Arce of Hartford said Thursday he has asked to meet with station executives to discuss the “racist, uncalled for, unprofessional” video, but they had not yet responded. He indicated he would pursue this meeting further.
“No radio station should be allowed to air promotions of racism,” Arce said. “I also hold the station responsible for allowing him to post this,” the Hartford legislator said. “They should have known better, and they also owe the state an apology.”
There have been numerous comments critical of Craig, the radio station and the video posted on Facebook pages devoted to the Latino community in Connecticut, and at the website CTLatinoNews.com.
On Wednesday, Steve Salhany, WTIC-FM’s operations manager, announced that Craig was “off the air” until Tuesday, July 2nd, but declined, due to company personnel policy, to provide further details.
There were signs, however, that Latino leaders were not satisfied and expected a more public apology from the radio station’s management and Craig, and would like his show off the air.
Fernandez-Chavero also observed, “Mr. Craig obviously doesn’t think Puerto Ricans and Mexicans – and their delicious food – are included in his definition of “our.” That’s why he wasn’t funny, only offensive and bizarre.
Arce said, “If he (Craig) wants to give an apology, let him do it publicly where everyone in the state can see it.”
The Puerto Rico-born legislator also said, he would like Craig off the air. “He offended the entire Latino population, not just Puerto Ricans, not just Peruvians, not just Colombians.”
Arce said he spent the whole day at the Hartford Latino Fest, and everyone was having a “great time, a good time.”
Craig also mistook the Puerto Rican flag at a Hartford food stand for Cuba’s, a slight that particularly annoyed Joyce Bolanos, a well-know media and business figure in the Hartford area, and other Hispanics. Bolanos, who was in the island commonwealth for a fencing event this week, posted pictures Thursday of the Puerto Rican flag to educate the disc jockey.
Both Arce and Fernandez-Chavero decried what they saw as a lack of real humor in the videos.
As for the New Haven video, which was really the first of the two, Arce said he was offended by the wall comment and Craig suggesting that an unleashed dog, shown scampering, should leave before a meal is made of him.
In the video, Craig also takes jabs at mofongo, the garlicky plantain dish, which Craig translates as being Spanish for “f— you.” He also focuses on pastor, a Hispanic version of a gyro that features pork instead of lamb, and suggests it must have some religious significance, assuming the word relates to a church official.
The intended humor of these comments did not work for Fernandez-Chavero. He said that before Craig “takes a course on today’s Connecticut, he should first take a course about a man from yesterday’s Connecticut who can teach him what comedy is and how all people are our people: Mark Twain.”