The hosts of the New Jersey radio talk show “Dennis and Judi” have been suspended for 10 days after repeatedly referring to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal as “Turban Man” during their broadcast.
New Jersey’s 101.5/WKXW-FM announced the suspensions on Thursday, July 26 after outrage from both listeners and public officials about the remarks. The segment in question began when hosts Judi Franco and Dennis Malloy began discussing Grewal’s recent proposal in which he asked prosecutors to delay marijuana-related cases for a month.
Molloy never referred to Grewal by name during the discussion, claiming that he did not know the name of the top legal advisor in the state. He declared that he would be calling Grewal “Turban Man” instead. “Listen, if that offends you, then don’t wear the turban and I’ll remember your name,” he then said before asking his broadcast partner Franco for her thoughts on whether he was being offensive.
“To me?” she responded. “No. To people who wear turbans? Could be.”
.@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
Reaction to the broadcast was immediate.
“My name, for the record, is Gurbir Grewal. I’m the 61st Attorney General of NJ,” Grewal himself tweeted to the radio station on Wednesday. “I’m a Sikh American. I have 3 daughters. And yesterday, I told them to turn off the radio.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also chimed in. “I’m outraged by the abhorrent and xenophobic comments made earlier today mocking Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on ‘The Dennis & Judi Show,’ Murphy said in a statement. “Hate speech has no place in New Jersey, and it does not belong on our airwaves.”
Grewal made history earlier this year when he became the first Sikh-American Attorney General in United States history. While New Jersey has elected and appointed several Sikh and other South Asian American officials in recent years, many have faced very public incidents of bigotry and racism. Hoboken mayor Ravinder Bhalla won his election last year despite a racist propaganda campaign launched against him and an Indian-American school board candidate had anonymous fliers calling for her deportation distributed days before her election.
In an interview, Bhalla told the New York Times that comments like Dennis and Judi’s reflected the dehumanizing nature of racism.
“It was blatantly discriminatory,” he said. “If he was an attorney general who was not a Sikh, he wouldn’t have a problem saying his name.”