NJ gov calls for sheriff's resignation after racist remarks caught on tape

NJ gov calls for sheriff's resignation after racist remarks caught on tape
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is calling on a county sheriff to step down after racist remarks he made about black people and the state’s attorney general were caught on tape.

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino is under fire for a recording from Jan. 16, obtained by WNYC News, in which he makes derogatory statements about African-Americans while criticizing Murphy’s inauguration speech.

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"He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state...better criminal justice reform,” Saudino says in the recording. “Christ almighty, in other words, let the blacks come in, do whatever the f--- they want, smoke their marijuana, do this, do that, and don't worry about it. You know, we'll tie the hands of cops."

Murphy called the comments “appalling,” and said in a statement that Saudino should resign, according to WNYC.

"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. "If indeed that is Sheriff Saudino’s voice on the recording, he must resign."

Saudino, who is white, is up for re-election next year. He was elected Bergen County sheriff first in 2009 as a Republican, and switched parties to become a Democrat ahead of his third term in 2016. According to WNYC, he is also heard on the recording admitting to violating rules involving corrections officers, and questioning the sexuality of another state official.

In the recording, Saudino also complains that Murphy appointed New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, the first Sikh state attorney general in the country, “because of the turban.”

Grewal has been the target of racist attacks in the past, most recently by two New Jersey radio hosts who referred to him as “turban man.”

Grewal also previously worked closely with Saudino as a top prosecutor in Bergen County, and said the comments are “inconsistent” with his experiences with Saudino.

"On a personal level what he said, if it’s true and accurate, is disappointing, because I think having worked with him for two years he would know better than most that I have law enforcement credentials," Grewal told WNYC. "And that’s why I got this nomination, not simply because of the symbol of my religion.”

Saudino did not return WNYC’s request for comment. The Hill has reached out to the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office.