Two city employees in Warner, Oklahoma were forced to resign recently when they were caught on tape by a co-worker referring to Martin Luther King Day as “Ni**er Day,” according to a report on okayplayer.com.
Until their racist comments became public, Joe Swimmer and Matt McLean were employees of the Warner Water Department. They were discussing whether they would be getting a day off for the Martin Luther King Day holiday.
Here’s the transcript of the recording made by fellow employee Michael Wittmer, who relates that these types of comments have been common at the water department “for a long time.”
“Do we get Martin Luther King Day off?” Swimmer asks, to which McLean responds “No ni**er day for us.”
“We’re off for ni**er day?” Swimmer responds, and can be later heard saying “I’m not celebrating ni**er day.”
McLean then proceeds to say “We just call it JER day. James Earl Ray,” referring to the man who assassinated MLK.
“That’s what we always celebrate…not that we don’t like black people,” McLean adds after laughter from other men in the room.
After Wittmer leaked the recording to Tulsa World, a local newspaper, and commented to a local TV station that “the employees that work with me haven’t been too happy with me. They feel like they were misled, but they weren’t misled. They just shouldn’t have been saying what they were saying.”
Wittmer found out just how unhappy his co-workers were when they changed the locks at his office so he wouldn’t be able to enter the building. Still, the unrepentant leaker has no regrets over his bringing his colleagues’ racist remarks to light.
“I thought it was real disrespectful,” Wittmer said before adding that MLK deserves to be honored no “matter what color or what race you are.”
The incident inspired a town hall meeting in Warner, with city officials promising an investigation into the matter.
It’s incredibly saddening to realize that there are still people with attitudes so racist that they feel free to speak so disrespectfully about one of the most admired figures of any color or race, but when the President himself is spouting off equally discriminatory comments on a daily basis, it’s no surprise to see people become emboldened to behave this way. It’s up to all of us to call out racism when we see it and let people know that we won’t stand for it.