Vester Flanagan referenced Alison Parker’s “racist” statements as one of the reasons she was targeted in the on-air murder. This left many wondering what she could have said that would have made Flanagan deem her as unworthy to live. New details show that the “racist” statements were actually common vernacular in the workplace and are being used as further proof of Flanagan’s deep-seated mental health issues. So what were the “racist” terms reporter Alison Parker used on the job?
According to the Daily Mail, colleagues of Vester Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, say he was upset over Alison Parker’s use of the terms “swinging” and “field.” While interning for WDBJ, Parker would tell her co-workers that she would be “swinging” by a particular address or that she was going into the “field.” Vester found these statements to be referencing African Americans and used them as proof that Alison was a racist.
“We would say stuff like, ‘The reporter’s out in the field.’ And he would look at us and say, ‘What are you saying, cotton fields? That’s racist.’ We’d be like, ‘What?’ We all know what that means, but he took it as cotton fields, and therefore we’re all racists. This guy was a nightmare. Management’s worst nightmare.”
Other reporters said Flanagan’s assumptions were “crazy” and said that he found racism in everyday actions. According to co-workers, Flanagan became irate when another WDBJ staff member brought a watermelon to work thinking it was a racial joke directed towards him. However, the staff members say the watermelon was for someone else and that they didn’t view the fruit as a racial statement.
Ryan Fuqua, a video editor at WDBJ, noted that Flanagan was “crazy” and that his mind always went into left-field thinking someone was targeting him with racial jokes when they weren’t. Fuqua told the New York Post that Flanagan was highly unstable and that he would often times become irate over small issues.
“That’s how that guy’s mind worked. Just crazy, left-field assumptions like that. He was unstable. One time, after one of our live shots failed, he threw all his stuff down and ran into the woods for like 20 minutes.”
Flanagan’s performance reviews back up his co-workers statements. The reviews note that Flanagan would often fly off the handle or treat photojournalists poorly on the job. One instance was noted in which Flanagan berated a photojournalist in front of horrified bystanders. Ultimately, the erratic behavior, failure to perform well in front of the camera, and wearing an Obama sticker during election coverage got the reporter fired from WDBJ in February of 2013.
[Image Credit: Facebook]