WRAL Investigates

Raleigh woman 'disturbed' by city employee's racial slur

Posted August 3, 2009
Updated August 4, 2009

— A Raleigh woman says she was disturbed to hear a racial slur in a voicemail message from a city inspector.

Although Calla Wright was told the slur was not directed at her, she is demanding the city take action against the employee, Anthony Sinclair.

The incident happened July 16 when Sinclair called Wright to update her on a complaint she had made about a neighbor's yard.

In the message, the caller identifies himself as Sinclair, and after a 3-second pause, in a soft voice, says an obscene word and racial slur before ending the call.

"Initially, it was devastating," Wright said. "I thought, 'This is not for me.' I thought they had the wrong number."

In a second message, time-stamped three minutes later, the caller apologizes and says the statement was that of a man who had walked up to his truck.

"Again, I apologize for the outburst from the gentleman, that was, walked up to my truck. Um, I'm not sure if it picked up that he said something extremely inappropriate," the caller says.

The rest of the message addresses Wright’s original complaint.

Wright then reported the message to Sinclair's supervisor, as well as to Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen.

Sinclair's supervisor apologized to Wright and said that Sinclair admitted to making the remark, which was directed at a passer-by.

Allen would not comment directly on the matter but said the city takes such cases very seriously. He said it is being investigated and that, if it’s true, Sinclair, who has worked in the position since 2006, will be disciplined.

Wright said Sinclair's supervisor told her the discipline could be a letter of reprimand and counseling. Allen said it could be a wide range of disciplines.

Wright, an advocate for black children in the Wake County Public School System, said that is not enough.

"I don't think the city should have employees who make those condescending racial statements."

Neither Sinclair nor his supervisor returned calls from WRAL News.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • clickclackity2 Aug 5, 2009

    When will it stop?....Moabit

    It will stop when you and other's start taking responsibility and accept your punishment for unethical behaviors. Complaining about the weather can not be compared to leaving a profanity laced, racial slur on a customers phone. Disgusting. And you summed this case right on up, America, the nation of the offended offender. The 'offended offender' being your's truly, the investigator.

  • Moabit Aug 5, 2009

    Everybody gets upset about the weather, about how the neighbor decorates his house, about the loud music, about the clothes, about the noisy road. Everybody gets offended because the person next to them smells, has a foul language, has the wrong hair, how they walk, talk, breath etc. everybody is going to die at some point just nobody knows when our time is up. Do we really want to waste our time getting offended about every little thing that happens? The guy apologized, get on with your life. America, the nation of the offended offender. When will it stop?

  • clickclackity2 Aug 5, 2009

    I'm tired of people like 'frosty' who believe every complaint about bad, unprofessional and/or racist behavior is whining. How about you and your peers actually take responsibility, as well as punishment for once in your life. And the hilarious part about all of this is that 'frosty' and 'the investigator' will be the first ones to claim that they are not racist. True American behavior.

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Aug 5, 2009


  • yngtaur Aug 4, 2009

    I think some of you are missing the point. Sure she should accept the apology and move on, but it's not a matter of someone just being oversensitive like some of you are implying. The guy should have been more professional while dealing with a customer over the phone. Imagine if I or someone were working in a retail store or some public establishment, and you overheard a conversation with a coworker and myself where I said something even just mildly distasteful, or I mumbled to you something awful about another customer. You'd be the first ones calling for the manager. Just because you wouldn't react like her doesn't make her wrong, but during my years of working for the public (which I vow to never do again), I've seen people get a lot more upset about stuff a lot more tame than this.

  • frosty Aug 4, 2009

    As long a people are coddled over every little thing that upsets them they will continue to waste everyone's time listening to them whine.

  • manofjustice Aug 4, 2009

    This is an utter outrage!!! I didn't know that such existed in 2009. When will people learn to accept eachother as brother and sister. We are all actually the same color. Our eyes just see different shades. I wish the whole world was blind. It would be hell on I-85 but we would all love eachother for our hearts and not our colors.

  • Coach K is still GREAT Aug 4, 2009

    Following up on cinbaby's response to a post.

    cinbaby, I assume now, that you read my 2nd post thinking I posted that comment. If you read the whole thing, you'll see that I pasted someone else's post and then responded.

    Read CAREFULLY the WHOLE post before making assumptions.
    You know what they say about assuming...

    And YES, COACH K is STILL GREAT!!!!!!

  • dugmeister Aug 4, 2009

    MakoII - are those the lyrics to the new Whitney Houston song?

  • NCAries Aug 4, 2009

    Good morning Independent Thinker - don't think you read the whole story - Tax Man

    It appears you didn't read the story.