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SANTA MONICA : City Protests Radio Host Who Said Homeless 'Should Be Put to Sleep'

November 20, 1994|SUSAN STEINBERG

Outraged by a radio talk-show host's comment that homeless people "should be put to sleep," the Santa Monica City Council this week sent a scathing letter to KFI Radio and is preparing to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.

The station aired a show July 10 on which radio host Emiliano Lamon called for the extermination of homeless people, comparing them to stray dogs.

"We found it alarming that during this show the 'extermination' of homeless people was discussed. This line of debate clearly falls into the category of advocating violence against homeless people," said the letter, signed by all seven council members.

The council asked that Lamon be severely disciplined and a public apology issued.

Lamon could not be reached for comment. But Howard Neal, vice president and general manager of KFI, said the station has not asked the talk show host to apologize. Instead, Neal says, Lamon was asked to "reassess his feelings."

Neal said Lamon's recommendation that the homeless be "put to sleep" does not necessarily amount to advocating murder.

"I have not formulated an opinion about it," Neal said. "If people are looking to be negative about it, you could make that assumption."

He added: "I would not, personally, make that assumption."

In its letter, the council said it supports First Amendment protections of free speech, but "finds it reprehensible that KFI management permitted this type of irresponsible and inflammatory reporting to be aired."

During the broadcast, Lamon said that a solution to the "homeless problem" came to him in an "epiphany" when he saw a stray dog walk into traffic and get killed by a truck.

"It led me to a solution . . . an idea . . . to the homeless problem," Lamon told his listeners. "I believe homeless people, essentially, should be put to sleep. . . . I see no reason they should exist."

Council members decided to address the incident last month after Lamon's comments were brought to their attention by activist Jerry Rubin. Rubin, a Santa Monica resident, and several advocates for the homeless have expressed outrage at Lamon and KFI, demanding a public apology from the host.

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