With Latino leaders and Hartford officials, including Mayor Luke Bronin, calling an online video about the city’s Latino festival racist and degrading, both the radio personality who posted the video and his radio station issued apologies Tuesday evening in an attempt to quell the controversy.
In his statement, 96.5 TIC-FM disc jockey Gary Craig described the video he made at the recent Hartford Latino Festival as a “poor attempt at being humorous” and as “insensitive and stupid.”
WTIC-FM’s response included “Gary’s video was inappropriate and was not in line with our station’s values.”
The video was taken offline Tuesday afternoon but criticism from the local Latino population had continued online with some questioning what the station’s advertisers thought of Craig’s humor, and others saying they would no longer listen to the station.
The radio station website — 965tic.cbslocal.com — had featured the video in a post titled, “Gary Craig: Accidental Tourist at Hartford Latino Fest.”
The video shows Craig walking through the Hartford Latino Fest held Saturday at the city’s riverfront observing that he must have entered “some kind of parallel universe,” making some rude comments, and yelling, “Help!”
In another part of the video, which runs about a minute, Craig comments on a vending stand that is decked with Puerto Rican flags, which he mistakes as Cuban flags. He says he now does not have to make a planned trip to broadcast from Havana and starts singing the “I Love Lucy” theme song. The co-star of the iconic television comedy was the late Desi Arnaz, a Cuban-American.
One of the first to react was Hartford City Councilman Julio A. Concepcion who posted on Twitter a copy of the video and the tweet, “Apparently degrading Hartford’s Latino population is acceptable.”
Informed of the reaction to video early Tuesday afternoon by Ctlatinonews.com, Craig said, “I am sorry to hear it.” He said he had no intention of offending anybody and was “just having some fun.”
“I will take it down,” Craig said, and indicated he had done so during the phone interview. ” I was just going for laughs,” said Craig, who has acted in various television shows and movies during his career.
Within a short time, the video was no longer on either Facebook page, and an attempt to link to the radio station’s webpage, 965tic.cbslocal.com, elicited the notation “Page not found.” A copy of the video post on YouTube also had disappeared by mid-afternoon.
“Whether made in jest or not, his racist undertones are absolutely inexcusable and should be condemned by his employer,” Concepcion said in a press release from Bronin’s office.
Mayor Bronin commented, “Gary Craig’s video is repulsive and bizarre.” He also said, “I was at the riverfront Saturday afternoon, and the festival was everything I love about our city: people of all different backgrounds coming together at our beautiful riverfront to celebrate the dance, music and food of one of our largest and most vibrant cultural communities here in Hartford. CBS Local Media, the owner of 96.5 TIC FM, should get this trash off of their website.”
Other comments about the video contained in the mayor’s press release include:
“The derogatory comments made by Mr. Craig were point blank disgusting,” said City Council President T.J. Clarke. “There is absolutely no way these comments can be justified. For anyone to mention they walked into some ‘parallel universe’ while people were celebrating their culture at last weeks’ Latino Fest needs a quick reality check on how culturally diverse this city is. I expect a public apology from Mr. Craig and the management staff of the radio station to the City of Hartford and organizers and members of the Latino community.”
“I’m appalled by this racist behavior,” said State Representative Angel Arce of Hartford. “The radio station needs to apologize to the community and take this video down immediately.”
In a comment to the CT Latinos Unidos site on Facebook, Werner Oyanadel, the former executive director of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, which will be discontinued Friday, July 1, said, “let’s see what his advertisers think about this awful humor.”
Richard Reyes commented, “Time to delete this station from our car programming” and Gladys Romero said, “I won’t listen to 96.5.”
On Tuesday evening, WTIC FM, through station Manager Ryan A. Jones, issued the following statement:
“Gary’s video was inappropriate and was not in line with our station’s values. We are taking this matter seriously and have communicated to Gary that there is no place for this type of content on our station.”
Craig said, “I would like to take the time to address the video I made at last weekend’s Latino Festival. I recognize that it was a poor attempt at being humorous. It was insensitive and stupid, and I sincerely apologize.”