New Jersey 101.5’s Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco repeatedly called Grewal, the nation’s first Sikh attorney general, “Turban Man.”
A New Jersey FM radio station has taken two hosts off the air after they made racist comments about the state’s Indian American Attorney General Gurbir Grewal during their mid-day show Wednesday.
Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco will remain “off the air until further notice,” New Jersey 101.5 said in a statement on Wednesday.
Malloy and Franco called Grewal, the nation’s first Sikh attorney general, “Turban Man,” while discussing his recent order to suspend marijuana prosecutions.
ALSO READ: Meet Gurbir Grewal, America’s first Sikh attorney general (January 18, 2018)
Malloy began the segment by saying he couldn’t remember the attorney general’s name. He told Franco: “I’m just going to say the guy with the turban.”
They called Grewal the Turban Man several times during the discussion.
“We are aware of the offensive comments made by Dennis and Judi during today’s broadcast,” the station said on its website. “We have taken immediate action and have taken them off the air until further notice. We are investigating the matter and will have further comment shortly.”
The pair also drew sharp rebukes from political and civil rights leaders, including Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s junior Sen. Cory Booker.
ALSO READ: Indian American Gurbir Grewal nominated as attorney general of New Jersey (December 13, 2017)
Grewal himself responded on Twitter on Thursday: “@nj1015: My name, for the record, is Gurbir Grewal. I’m the 61st Attorney General of NJ. I’m a Sikh American. I have 3 daughters. And yesterday, I told them to turn off the radio.”
.@nj1015: My name, for the record, is Gurbir Grewal. I’m the 61st Attorney General of NJ. I’m a Sikh American. I have 3 daughters. And yesterday, I told them to turn off the radio.
— Gurbir S. Grewal (@GurbirGrewalNJ) July 26, 2018
In another tweet, he wrote that it was “not the first indignity” he has “faced and it probably won’t be the last.” He added: “Sometimes, I endure it alone. Yesterday, all of New Jersey heard it. It’s time to end small-minded intolerance.”
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. It’s an issue I addressed at @APAICS conference this May: pic.twitter.com/XnxJp53cxv
— Gurbir S. Grewal (@GurbirGrewalNJ) July 26, 2018
“Outraged by the abhorrent and xenophobic comments mocking @NewJerseyOAG on The @DennisandJudi Show on @nj1015,” Murphy tweeted just before the station announced the suspension of the hosts on Wednesday. “Hate speech has no place in NJ, and does not belong on our airwaves. Station management must hold the hosts accountable for these intolerant and racist comments.”
Hate speech has no place in NJ, and does not belong on our airwaves.
Station management must hold the hosts accountable for these intolerant and racist comments.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) July 26, 2018
Booker, one of the nation’s most respected African American leaders, tweeted in support of Grewal. He wrote: “Such hateful rhetoric doesn’t reduce Gurbir, such hateful rhetoric reduces and disgraces the one who uses it. We are New Jersey; bigotry has no place, religious intolerance no harbor. We all should denounce this ignorant and outrageous attack.”
Such hateful rhetoric doesn’t reduce Gurbir, such hateful rhetoric reduces and disgraces the one who uses it.
We are New Jersey; bigotry has no place, religious intolerance no harbor.
We all should denounce this ignorant and outrageous attack.https://t.co/8HrcjAEl5K
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) July 26, 2018
Others who condemned the hosts include New Jersey’s Indian American Sen. Vin Gopal,
“I am absolutely disgusted by the hateful and ignorant comments made by the hosts of [NJ 101.5] radio show,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is among the best New Jersey has to offer. He is a man of great integrity, intelligence and skill who selflessly devotes himself to the betterment of our great state. It does not matter whether one is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or any religion — religious discrimination is totally unacceptable.”
Grewal, who served as the Bergen County prosecutor — he was nominated by former Republican Gov. Chris Christy — before being tapped by Murphy to serve as the state’s highest law enforcement official, has a stellar resume. A law graduate from the College of William & Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law, he has served as an Assistant US Attorney in both New York (2004-2007) and New Jersey (2010-2016). He also served as chief of the Economic Crimes Unit at the US Attorney’s Office.
“The American dream is alive and well in New Jersey,” Grewal said when he was nominated as attorney general last year. “As someone who has experienced hate and intolerance firsthand throughout my life, I wanted to work to ensure that we all live in a fair and just society.”
Grewal said his main motivation for entering public service was “to give back to a country that has given us and other immigrant families like us so much.”