Newspaper Staffer Fired Over Racial Slurs in Photo Caption

A controversial photo caption using racial slurs to describe a group of Asians led to the firing of an employee at a Philadelphia newspaper.

The caption was written underneath a photo published in the Philadelphia Public Record. The photo shows Councilman Mark Squilla posing with a group of Asians during a fundraiser at a Chinatown restaurant last week. Instead of their real names, the Asians were referred to as “C****y Winky,” “Dinky Doo” and “Me Too.”

The Public Record's publisher Jimmy Tayoun, 84, first issued a written apology in the paper.

“In our Aug. 21, 2014 issue an offensive slur was accidentally published in the Philadelphia Public Record,” Tayoun wrote. “This shocking lapse of professional conduct occurred contrary to our editorial directives and in no way reflects the views of our staff or our organization.”

Monday morning, Tayoun fired the staffer responsible for the caption, though he has not identified him. Tayoun also spoke to NBC10 about the controversy.

“He comes from a background where these are cute sayings,” Tayoun said. “The rest of us are to be chastised for not catching it.”

Kay Kyungsun Yu, an attorney and former head of the Philadelphia Human Rights Commission, says the caption is disrespectful and believes the paper should have acted more quickly.

“Does just firing one person address the issue of making sure that people have the right sensitivity?” Yu asked. “How could someone write these kinds of captions to begin with?”

NBC10 also reached out to Councilman Squilla, who demanded that Tayoun make a personal apology. Squilla also said his office is working with the Chinatown community to organize a meeting with Tayoun.

Tayoun, a former Philadelphia city councilman, has been at the center of controversy before.

He spent three years in prison for racketeering and tax evasion. Tayoun represented the first district, which includes Chinatown, when he served in city council.

While Tayoun admitted he wanted to “choke” the former staffer who wrote the caption when he first saw it, he also said he believes the controversy and interest in the story is dying down. Tayoun also says he’s apologized to anyone who was offended by the picture.

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