Paula Deen's cousin defends star chef amid racism allegations

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MARIETTA, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News sat down with a relative of Paula Deen, just days after the celebrity chef sparked controversy for admitting in a court deposition to using racial slurs.

The Georgia-based cooking star apologized for the racial slurs she said she used a "very long time ago" and has since been fired from the Food Network.

Now Deen's fans, including Deen's cousin, Johnnie Gabriel who runs a bakery on Whitlock Avenue in downtown Marietta, are coming to her defense.

"She has not done anything that many people in every city in this country, not just the South, have done," said Gabriel.

Customer after customer came up to Gabriel to offer their support to her family during an interview with Channel 2's Rachel Stockman's.

"I've had six people walk up to me. I had a lady call on the phone (say) 'I love you and you tell Paula I love her," Gabriel said.

Jane May was one of those customers.

"She is one of the dearest, sweetest people in the world. She would not intentionally hurt anybody for any reason at all. And she would feel very bad if she thought she had hurt somebody unintentionally," May said.

"I think that a lot of times those events and things are a little bit blown out a little too much," said customer Greg Frisbee.

On Facebook, dozens of pages are popping up like "Bring Back Paula Deen," which has thousands of "Likes."

Gabriel said she stays in close contact with her cousin.

Stockman said the woman who filed the original lawsuit claiming harassment at one of Deen's restaurants lives in metro Atlanta. Stockman asked Deen for an interview but she declined Stockman's request.



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