New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday that Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino should resign after WNYC released a tape showing Saudino making racist comments. According to the Huffington Post, the New York City radio station reported that Saudino was secretly recorded making racist comments about Black people and the state’s Sikh attorney general during a January conversation about the new governor’s agenda.
The source that provided WNYC the tape claims it took place in a county office building and asked to remain anonymous for “fear of backlash.” The sheriff ― who confirmed later Thursday that it was his voice on the recording ― can be heard making profane remarks about Murphy’s inaugural address earlier this year. The incoming governor’s speech denounced the “politics of division” and supported legalizing marijuana. “He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state … better criminal justice reform,” Saudino is heard saying. “Christ almighty, in other words let the Blacks come in, do whatever the fk they want, smoke their marijuana, do this do that, and don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll tie the hands of cops.”
In another clip, Saudino says Gurbir Grewal, the country’s first Sikh attorney general, was appointed by Murphy because of “the turban.” Saudino can also be heard asking whether Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver is gay “because she’s never been married.” Clips of the tape can be heard on WNYC’s website. Murphy, a Democrat, denounced the recording in a statement to HuffPost, issued before Saudino confirmed it was his voice on the recording. “Without question, the comments made on that recording are appalling, and anyone using racist, homophobic and hateful language is unfit for public office,” the statement said.
“If indeed that is Sheriff Saudino’s voice on the recording, he must resign.” In a statement to HuffPost, the Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization, also called on Saudino to resign and insisted on anti-bias trainings for all staff employed by the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office. Saudino released a statement Thursday evening apologizing to residents of Bergen County, confirming he was the voice on the recording. The sheriff said in his statement that he has reached out to the leaders in the communities he has offended to “repair the damage” and ask forgiveness. “These remarks are not representative of the person 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,” Saudino’s statement read. Saudino’s statement does not address the numerous calls for his resignation.