WFNI Sports host Joe Staysniak has been suspended one week without pay after on-air comments he made this week that included saying black people need to stop being victims, kneeling in front of the American flag is treason, the Confederate flag is not racist and he finds it hard to believe black people are being targeted by police.
"Joe, quite frankly, had statements that were very insensitive to a lot of the folks that are out there fighting for their rights and feel like their voices have not been heard," said Jeff Rickard, Staysniak's co-host on "The Fan Morning Show with Jeff and Big Joe." "And it’s time for them to be heard in the wake of the George Floyd murder."
According to the Indy Star, Staysniak, a former Indianapolis Colts lineman, and Rickard were discussing the protests in Indianapolis and across America that were prompted by the death of Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died last month after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee to Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd lay handcuffed facedown.
Rickard read an apology from Staysniak Friday in which he said, "I am really sorry for the pain and hurt that I caused by my comments this week."
Staysniak said he has heard from listeners and coworkers who told him his comments deepened wounds in the community. He said he did more talking than listening and "that was wrong."
In a statement read Friday by Rickard, Jeff Smulyan, CEO of station owner Emmis Communications, said Emmis does not condone or endorse viewpoints that diminish the injustices facing the black community in America. He added that the company stands firmly as an ally with the black community in its fight against racism.
"Emmis takes very seriously its commitment to the communities in which we proudly serve and reaffirms its dedication in rooting out injustices and oppression in any form," Smulyan wrote.
As Staysniak discussed Floyd's death Wednesday, he said the incident and others involving police officers and African Americans aren't a black-white issue. It is an issue with leadership, he said, and who is elected to office.