San Francisco’s KGO-TV fires news producer over tweets

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The tweet sent by KGO freelancer Carlos La Roche that led to his termination on Sunday. (Photo: @marymad/Twitter)

The tweet sent by KGO freelancer Carlos La Roche that led to his termination on Sunday. (Photo: @marymad/Twitter)

A San Francisco news producer has apologized for a series of tweets that led to his termination from a local television station on Sunday.

Carlos La Roche worked as a freelance writer and news producer for KGO-TV (Channel 7), San Francisco’s ABC station, until Sunday when management informed him that one of his tweets had crossed a line.

Under the account @ProducerLos, which has since been deactivated, La Roche said on Sunday that he hoped Oakland police officers would use “live bullets” against a group of protesters who were expected to demonstrate against a recent court decision involving a Cleveland police officer. That officer, Michael Brelo, had been absolved of charges related to the shooting deaths of two individuals following a police pursuit in 2012; such killings at the hands of law enforcement have prompted a mixture of peaceful and violent protests in Oakland and elsewhere over the last few years.

On at least two other occasions, La Roche tweeted similar disdain for violent demonstrators in Oakland. Earlier this month, he directed a message to Oakland police asking if it could “be open season on the protesters.” Last November, he suggested that members of the embattled Ferguson, Missouri police department be recruited to “put down those animals in Oakland seeing as OPD seems to be taking the week off.”

But it was his tweet on Saturday that prompted an outcry from activists. Many flooded the station’s Twitter and Facebook pages with criticism; others encouraged followers to call the station’s newsroom hotline to express their contempt for La Roche’s tweets.

On Sunday, La Roche confirmed his firing in an e-mail sent to The Desk. He later apologized for his comments, saying he did not intend to suggest violence against anyone and that his opinions actually align with those who protest in Oakland.

“In the past, I have been frustrated with the violence that has followed peaceful protests in the city of Oakland,” La Roche said. “I have expressed my frustration by tweeting inflammatory things directed at those violent individuals. Those tweets were inexcusable and do not reflect my true beliefs about their cause.”

kgotweets-2KGO-TV released a statement via a series of tweets on Sunday saying La Roche, whom they did not identify by name, had been fired for publishing “inappropriate tweets from his personal account that in no way reflect the views of” the station.

Bill Burton, KGO-TV’s general manager, said the station did not have a comment beyond what had been published earlier in the day KGO-TV’s Twitter account.

La Roche’s full statement to The Desk appears below:

“First off, in NO WAY do I advocate violence against anybody. What law enforcement has done to people of color, across this country is sickening. I am on the side of the people.

In the past, I have been frustrated with the violence that has followed peaceful protests in the city of Oakland. I have expressed my frustration by tweeting inflammatory things directed at those violent individuals. Those tweets were inexcusable and do not reflect my true beliefs about their cause. I’ve had people I know whose businesses have been affected by this violence. I falsely expected that behavior to rise again the night of May 23, 2015. In that frame of mind, I sent out a series of tweets that I truly regret. Not because it cost me my job. They did what they had to do. I regret it because there is a large group of people I agree with in many ways, that think I’m against them.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson. I’m devastated that people who I agree with feel I’m against them. I’m truly sorry.”

Disclosure: The author of this article is a former employee of KGO-TV.

(Editor’s note: If you are reading this via a link from the San Francisco Chronicle’s website, the author of this post would like to express his disdain for reporter Evan Sernoffsky and his editor Terry Robertson, both of whom felt it important to include incorrect and irrelevant information about this author in their aggregated report on the following topic. As such, the author of this post would like to kindly offer the suggestion that Mr. Sernoffsky and Mr. Robertson go fuck themselves.)