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Out Weatherman Axed by TV Station after Facebook Post Calling Out Gun-Toting 'Reopen' Protestors

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday May 13, 2020
Sven Sundgaard
Sven Sundgaard  (Source:Sven Sundgaard, Instagram)

An openly gay TV weatherman was fired after sharing a Facebook post from a Minnesota rabbi that called out gun-toting, Confederate-flag waving protestors who descended on the residence of Minnesota's Democratic governor last month, media outlets reported.

Sven Sundgaard, 39, reposted Facebook comments by Rabbi Michael Adam Latz, who denounced the so-called "reopen" protestors as "white nationalist Nazi sympathizer gun fetishist miscreants.," reported the New York Daily News.

A right-wing site pounced on the post, capturing a screenshot before it was later deleted, media sources said.

Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE-11, where Sundgaard had worked for 11 years, tossed the meteorologist. The station announced the firing on May 1, claiming "continued violations of KARE11's news ethics and other policies" on Sundgaard's part.

Viewers expressed outrage with thousands of supportive messages, reports DailyDot.

The weatherman posted his thanks at Facebook for an outpouring of support form his viewers, writing in a May 5 post that he was:

...especially grateful to those who have sent supportive and kind messages over the last several days since the station so publicly announced that it had parted ways with me - and then published its alleged reasons for doing so. Your overwhelming support has been incredible.

Though stay-at-home and social distancing orders have been issued in states with Republican and Democratic governors alike, President Trump has sent out tweets attacking Democratic governors and throwing his support to the protestors, despite many of them openly brandishing assault weapons. Some protestors have been spotted displaying swastikas, though news reports indicate that the Nazi symbol was intended to comment on actions taken by governors who were acting on recommendations by medial professionals to slow and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Trump famously referred to white supremacists and neo-Nazis who created chaos in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August of 2017., as "very fine people." Armed white nationalists stormed the city, engaging in a street fight as city police stood back and failed to intervene. One white nationalist rammed a car into a group of peacefully marching counter-protestors, killing one woman and injuring dozens of other people.

The "reopen" protests politicize the CIVD-19 crisis by promoting the view that the novel coronavirus is not as dangerous as health officials say. Some on the political right have picked up on and continued to echo the president's claims early in the pandemic that concerns over the crisis are overblown and intended to damage his presidency.

Though the protests are taken by some to be a spontaneous grassroots uprising, they have been found by researchers to be the result of coordinated efforts by groups with political agendas, not unlike the "Tea Party" movement from the late 2000s and early 2010s.

Reports Forbes:

Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs and researchers at DomainTools have separately analyzed web addresses including the word "reopen." And interestingly, they've found that many of these can be linked to domains associated with gun advocacy groups, lobbyists, and other conservative organizations.

Some news outlets report that white supremacist groups are using the rallies as recruitment opportunities. The specter of anti-Semitism has reared its head at some of the protests, with a rally in Illinois drawing particular criticism because of a sign carried by one protestor that quoted the Nazi slogan emblazoned over the gates of the infamous concentration campo Auschwitz.

ABC News reports that the sign, which read "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will free you"), drew condemnation from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker as well as from the Auschwitz Museum and Memorial.

Sundgaard is a convert to Judaism, news reports said.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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