New Jersey Radio Hosts Suspended Over 'Turban Man' Comments
A New Jersey radio station suspended a pair of popular hosts on Thursday for calling the first U.S. Sikh attorney general “turban man.”
Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco, hosts of “Dennis & Judi,” were suspended for 10 days without pay after referring to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on-air on Wednesday as “the guy with the turban.”
The hosts had been discussing Grewal’s directive to temporarily stop prosecuting marijuana infractions in New Jersey.
Malloy claimed that he could not recall Grewal’s name and said, “I’m just going to say the guy with the turban.”
“If that offends you, then don’t wear the turban and maybe I’ll remember your name,” Malloy added, according to The Associated Press.
Malloy and Franco proceeded to refer to Grewal as “turban man” throughout the Wednesday segment.
Grewal evidently heard the comment and responded to it Thursday in a tweet.
In another tweet, Grewal said it was not the first time he had faced such indignities.
“This is not the first indignity I’ve faced and it probably won’t be the last. Sometimes, I endure it alone. Yesterday, all of New Jersey heard it. It’s time to end small-minded intolerance,” Grewal wrote.
Grewal addressed the issue of the discrimination he has faced, both before and after he took office as attorney general, at an Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies conference in May.
He shared then that death threats are now “a fact of life” for him, and that while he alone often bears the brunt of discriminatory comments, like being asked where he parks his elephant or being called a towel head, his three daughters also sometimes witness him endure it.
Malloy and Franco issued a written apology to Grewal, Sikhs, and East Asians, saying they regretted making comments that caused pain to those communities.
“We offer our sincerest apologies to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal as well as the Sikh and Asian communities for a series of insensitive comments we made on our show. For 21 years, the Dennis and Judi show has been unscripted and free form. We use humor and sarcasm to make a point and add color to the broadcast; in this instance, we were off the mark. It was a mistake we both deeply regret. We respect all cultures and beliefs and are deeply sorry for the pain caused to the Sikh community, our co-workers and our beloved listeners,” their apology read, according to New Jersey 101.5.
Several callers to the show protested Malloy and Franco’s suspension Thursday, as did fill-in host Steve Trevelise.
“I can tell you they’re not racist. They’re just not,” Trevelise said, according to AP. “Not a racist bone in their body.”
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