With a Richmond casino vote happening on Nov. 7, campaign officials hadn’t posted a public apology as of Nov. 6 for antisemitic remarks made on a radio show on Nov. 1. On Nov. 1, The Box, 99.5 guest host Preston Brown said during The Richmond Grand Update that Richmond Grand Resort and Casino opponent Paul Goldman was “a Jew who’s got the same trait as Judas.”
Goldman has loudly opposed the $562 million retail casino project that first needs voter approval to become Virginia‘s fifth and final commercial gaming establishment. Goldman’s campaign, No Means No Casino, has been running commercials, posting on social media, and otherwise opposing the possible casino.
Tomorrow, Richmond’s 159,318 registered voters will decide whether to allow the Richmond Grand Resort and Casino to be built by media company Urban One — which owns The Box, 99.5 — and Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI).
As of today, the Richmond casino’s campaign — Richmond Wins, Vote Yes — hasn’t widely distributed a statement about Brown’s remarks.
Instead, those following the campaign’s updates received five emails urging them to vote for the project and saw no site or social posts apologizing for Brown’s words.
Only Richmond media outlets received an identical statement from the campaign on Friday, including the following published by the Virginia Mercury:
This campaign unequivocally condemns the anti-Semitic language and divisive comments that were made on the air.
Meanwhile, the sole public apology was a two-paragraph press release written by Marsha Landess. She is the regional vice president for Radio One, an Urban One company. The Box, 99.5, is Richmond’s “classic hip hop” station.
Bonus received no responses to requests for comment today from the following:
- No Means No Casino
- The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond
- Richmond Wins, Vote Yes
- Urban One
- Churchill Downs
However, Richmond’s mayor made a statement on Friday:
I unequivocally condem the antisemitic remarks made by a guest host on The Box 99.5 FM regarding Paul Goldman.
We must call hate out in all of its forms, and his remarks are completely unacceptable.
I’m pleased to hear the station has issued an apology and fired the…
— Mayor Levar M. Stoney (@LevarStoney) November 3, 2023
Quiet Apology Allows Brown to Continue
The Radio One Richmond post by Landess said on Friday:
The anti-Semitic comments heard on The Box, 99.5 were made by a temporary guest host who was not an employee of the station. These statements were horrible and offensive. Once we heard the comments, and because he was alone in the studio with his producer, I personally drove to the station and immediately removed him from the show.
He will not be appearing again. Our CEO, Alfred Liggins, has personally apologized to Mr. Goldman on behalf of the station and our company, and we again sincerely apologize to Mr. Goldman for these remarks and condemn them in the strongest possible terms.
Mayor Levar M. Stoney incorrectly characterized Brown as “fired.” Landess said in her statement that Brown wasn’t an employee.
Meanwhile, a post Saturday on X said Brown continued to call Goldman “Judas” after his ouster from The Box, 99.5.
Why What Brown Said Is Problematic
Today, the No Means No Casino site still houses the 34-second clip from Nov. 1 of what the site calls Brown’s Crude Religious Comments About Paul Goldman:
Paul Goldman is a Jew who’s got the same trait as Judas. … He’s a white Jew with the background of Judas.
I’m talking about one person. And his name is Paul Goldman. And he’s a Judas.
And I think somebody might’ve heard me say ‘Jew.’ I didn’t say [that]. He’s a Judas. And Judas was with Jesus.
Comparing Jews to Judas is a common antisemitic remark, often meant as “Jews killed Jesus.” Christians believe Judas betrayed Jesus, which resulted in his crucifixion.
The way that story is told, Judas clandestinely agreed to betray Jesus and only revealed himself when Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus.
Brown’s remark came as Americans are increasingly taking sides in the Israel-Hamas war that began on Oct. 7.
On Oct. 25, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced it “has recorded a significant spike in antisemitic incidents across the United States.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said:
When conflict erupts in Israel, antisemitic incidents soon follow in the US and globally.
In Richmond, WTVR reported on Oct. 23 that the city has seen a couple of protests “in support of Palestinians.” While the reporting said the demonstrations were for peace and a ceasefire, a couple of signs bearing “from the river to the sea” were visible in the video of the Oct. 23 protest. That controversial slogan is considered antisemitic by the ADL many American Jews, who interpret it as a call for the destruction of Israel, though pro-Palestinian activist groups using the phrase insist otherwise.
Unclear How Brown’s Remarks Will Impact Vote
It’s unclear how much the lack of a widely distributed apology for Brown’s remarks by Richmond Wins, Vote Yes will impact the Richmond casino vote.
In 2021, about 2,000 city voters defeated the previous casino proposal. At that time, Urban One hadn’t yet partnered with Churchill Downs. So the proposed casino was called One Casino and Resort.
As of Nov. 1, the Virginia Department of Elections showed Richmond had 159,318 eligible electors in the city of 229,395 residents.
At that time, the proposed casino project didn’t have this type of controversy hanging over it.