WRAL Investigates

Raleigh woman plays racial slur before City Council

Posted September 1, 2009
Updated September 2, 2009

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— The Raleigh City Council heard Tuesday evening from a woman who said she received a voice mail containing a racial slur from a Raleigh housing inspector.

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

Wright, who was told the slur was not directed at her, said she wanted members of the council to hear the message firsthand.

"I would like to warn you, it is profane and it is obscene,” Wright said before the voice message was played.

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.

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.

Raleigh council hears from woman disturbed by racial slur Council hears from woman disturbed by racial slur

"We feel that no one should be subjected to this type of inflammatory, offensive, racial slur,” Calla Wright said Tuesday after the message was played.

"It bothers me every time I have to hear this, but this is something that we felt we had to bring before the council,” said Gerald Wright, Calla's husband.

Wright first 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.

"We have taken appropriate disciplinary action, and we also sent a letter of apology,” Allen said Tuesday.

Allen said Sinclair still works for the city. He is classified as housing inspector but no longer works in the field. However, Allen said disciplinary actions are not yet complete.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said Tuesday that he condemns what the city employee did.

"No one in our community, particularly Raleigh employees, should be talking like that,” Meeker said.

City councilman James West said if Sinclair intentionally said what he said, termination should be considered.

"If it were willful, I think it should be extreme, very severe discipline,” West said.

At the council meeting, Wright called on the city to increase diversity training among employees.  Allen said city workers were already required to take part in such training.

Sinclair did not returned calls from WRAL News for comment.

192 Comments

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  • Coach K is still GREAT Sep 3, 2009

    I can tell that you need to wake up black one morning!
    Raptor06
    September 2, 2009 4:16 p.m.
    Ignore Report abuse

    Unfortunatley (SP?) we didn't have that choice. Get over it!!
    Move on, focus on today and not what happened before you were born.

  • Coach K is still GREAT Sep 3, 2009

    Why don't you exercise your freedom and change radio stations? I have on many occasions. I don't look at media that may offend me. Why don't you?

    Raptor06
    September 2, 2009 4:16 p.m.
    Ignore Report abuse

    Raptor6 I said that in a post that GOLO would'nt post, my point was that I CAN change the dial if I want to. This lady SHOULD turn her answering machine OFF, but she DOESN'T want to... get over it a move on as everyone else who pleays the race card fro their own PERSONAL agenda. Stop looking for pity and trying to get people fired for something that happens on THE TOM JOYNER MORNING SHOW every morning. I get mad, but then i realize it's not worth getting upset over, but eventually peole ARE going to get tired of it, I'm tired of it NOW, but I keep my cool.
    And as far as the media offending someone, I guess you weren't "OFFENDED" when CM lied about the lacrosse players, but you were "OFFENDED" when you first heard about these LIES????

  • Travised Sep 2, 2009

    I'm not sure on NC telecommunications laws, so you'd need to check on it before recording phone calls.

    SOME STATES are "one party consent" meaning only YOU need to know about the call being recorded. If it's a two party consent, two parties must agree to the call being recorded. The loophole there is you can have an extension picked up ON YOUR END and THAT party can agree and it is then legal (more than one party is agreeing). In other two party states it says ALL people must agree. You need read YOUR STATES phone laws to know what you can/can't do for recording.

    However IN THIS CASE the party CHOSE to leave a message on the machine/voice mail. They were not forced to. Being it was on a voluntary basis, the recording (message) can be submitted to any court.

    I'm not getting dragged into the debate here, it is too heated.

  • makeadiff Sep 2, 2009

    Yes dlh, many of us are being victomized by the double standards inflicted upon us every time we turn around and all in the name of being pollitically correct or for fear of being acussed of being a racist is it unjustly tollerated. Or should we just simply choose to see it for what it is (ignorance) and try to rise above it and ignore it(impossible at times). Please read my earlier comments this evening.

  • JOBMO Sep 2, 2009

    StefanyJoy WROTE: "freedom of speech for all......................................................... ..as long as you're black, jewish, islamic, illegal, or a liberal."

    oh so now YOU'RE a victim?

  • PeaceOut2017 Sep 2, 2009

    everyone should use racial slurs every chance they get that way they'd lose their shock value and the easily offended won't get offended

  • 5-113 FA Retired Sep 2, 2009

    Geesh people! If someone makes a comment you don't agree with you're stamping it as a "liberal" comment. How would you know that? Just more sour grapes related to last year's election. I say, "get over yourselves" and leave judgement to the professionals. When bush was elected in 2004, many of his blind following made statements such as, "God is in charge" that's why bush got elected. Knowing that, why are you so suprized about God's choice in 2008?

  • makeadiff Sep 2, 2009

    The actions of people speak louder than their words and he did immediately call back on his own to apologize and admitted that it was totally inappropriate. Pull up your big girl panties and move on. Quit wasting our time and resources which need to be spent on more deserving issues. I can't even begin to express how sick and tired I am of the reverse discrimination, double standards, sense of entitlement, political correctness, and guilt and blame throwing. Enough already....Please! These very attitudes that are constantly shoved in our faces and those of our children’s is enough to make a person a racist in itself no matter what your race is. I truly believe that it perpetuates racism. Any opportunity to stir the racial pot of hatred and keep it going and going. No more hyphenated titles and special holidays. You are either an Americans or you are not. Until we stop constantly pointing out our differences we will not grow to be one nation under God and indivisible.

  • scarletindurham Sep 2, 2009

    freedom of speech for all.........................................................
    ..as long as you're black, jewish, islamic, illegal, or a liberal.

  • Garnerwolf1 Sep 2, 2009

    Another proud citizen of the united states of the offended

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