PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Journalist Darryl Heeralal was dismissed Monday after he posted racist remarks on his Facebook page regarding protest action by residents of a poor neighbourhood following a vehicular accident that left four people dead, including a mother and her two daughters, on Sunday.
Police have identified those killed as 27-year-old Hady Paul, her children eight year old Akasha and seven year old Shakira. One unidentified person later died in hospital.
WIN Communications, which runs a television station here, said that it was “shocked, taken aback and in many ways repulsed by comments” made by the journalist, it described as a freelancer.
“WIN Communications wants to condemn in the strongest possible way such statements. They in no way reflect the views of this company, its management or any of its employees,” the company said in a statement.
According to the Facebook postings attributed to the journalist who said “I make no apologies” there were also calls for citizens to shoot the protestors in the head “and plant cabbage on them”.
Win Communications said that the media are charged with a “very sacred responsibility, one that puts the onus on us to represent the views of all the people.
“That responsibility is even deeper in countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, which comprises a mixture of ethnic as well as social groups. Even more than politicians, the Media in Trinidad and Tobago must guard jealously the fundamental values that allow us to transcend racism and divisiveness, and champion the cause of togetherness and national unity.
“WIN Communications believes deeply in those fundamental principles, and we have worked assiduously to safeguard that,” it added.
“It is an affront to every employee in this company, as it is to the country as a whole, to make statements that seek to divide or condemn along lines of race. Even worse in a way that seems to incite violence against any particular race,” the company said, adding that it had held discussions with Heeralal, who “who will no longer be affiliated with Win Communications in any capacity”.
Meanwhile, police said that they had been able to clear sections of the Beetham Highway on Monday after the residents staged a second day of protest following the incident in which a vehicle driven by an off duty police officer crashed into the pedestrians.
On Sunday, police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the angry residents who complained of a cover-up by police and accused the driver of being drunk at the time of the accident.
National Security Minister Austin “Jack” Warner also visited the area on Monday and promised a full investigation into the accident.