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911 Dispatcher Suspended For Comments About Oprah Winfrey During Maya Angelou Call

911 Dispatcher fired for Oprah Comments

Credit: Kris Connor/Getty Images

An emergency dispatcher in Forsyth County, N.C., was suspended with pay Thursday for comments he made about media proprietor Oprah Winfrey during the 911 call connected to Maya Angelou’s death.

The poet and activist died Wednesday at her home after a long illness. Angelou and Winfrey were close, longtime friends.

John Ruckh was not the dispatcher who was dealing with the 911 call, but he could still be heard in the background making comments about Winfrey.

Ruckh was commenting about Winfrey’s controversial interview with the BBC back in November where the media mogul stated, “There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die.”

During the same interview, she went on to condemn those who criticized the nation’s first African-American president because of his skin color.

During the 911 call, Ruckh was heard saying that “Oprah has fallen out of grace” after the interview and asking other employees what they thought of Winfrey’s comments.

He also referred to the interview as a “rant.”

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, EMS officials in Forsyth County are looking into the matter to determine whether any further actions should be taken.

“These comments are unacceptable, and we have opened an internal investigation to look into the circumstances surrounding this event,” said Dan Ozimek, the Forsyth County EMS director.

Maya Angelou 911 call exposes dispatchers offensive comments Ruckh insists that the conversation was not racially charged and has been very apologetic.

He also explained that his job places him in a situation where everything can be heard and recorded and he regrets the timing of the conversation.

“Unfortunately, I work in a high-profile job and everything’s recorded,” he explained.

He went on to say that Emergency Services also tends to make employees insensitive after dealing with so much “pain and suffering” on a daily basis.

“In Emergency Services, we deal with a lot of pain and suffering, and we make decisions in split seconds to know how to do, what to do and who to send. … However, sometimes we become calloused and insensitive,” Ruckh said. “I really hate that this happened at the time that it did, because this is taking away from Maya Angelou’s passing.”

Ruckh has worked with Forsyth County EMS for more than 20 years and says he still has nothing but the “utmost respect” for the county despite his suspension.

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