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Sheriff won’t resign, says he’s sorry for racial remarks

September 21, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey sheriff recorded making disparaging remarks about blacks and the state’s first Sikh attorney general apologized Thursday night for his comments but didn’t heed a call from Gov. Phil Murphy to step down.

In a statement released by a spokesman, Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino said the remarks were “not representative of the person that I am and they are in no way consistent with the manner in which I have conducted my life personally and as a law enforcement professional with over 46 years of service to the residents of Bergen County.”

WNYC radio obtained the tape from a person who was present during the meeting between Saudino and subordinates. It was recorded on the day of Murphy’s inauguration in January.

On it, Saudino is heard saying Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was appointed because of “the turban.” He also said Murphy’s policies would allow blacks to “come in, do whatever the (expletive) they want, smoke their marijuana, do this do that.”

Saudino also questioned on the recording whether Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who is not married, is gay.

In a statement Thursday, Murphy called the comments “appalling” and said if the voice on the recording is Saudino’s, then he should resign.

“Without question, the comments made on that recording are appalling, and anyone using racist, homophobic, and hateful language is unfit for public office,” Murphy said.

Grewal, who worked closely with Saudino when he served as Bergen County prosecutor before being appointed attorney general, echoed Murphy’s call for Saudino to resign.

“I have thick skin and I’ve been called far worse,” Grewal said in a statement. “But the comments about the African-American community are wrong, racist and hurtful. New Jersey and Bergen County deserve better.”

In July, the hosts of a popular New Jersey radio show were suspended without pay for 10 days for repeatedly referring to Grewal as “turban man” during a broadcast.

In Thursday’s statement, Saudino said he had “reached out directly to several respected leaders in the communities I have offended and I have personally offered my apologies and I have asked for their forgiveness and for their communities’ forgiveness.”

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