RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The founder of Urban One, one of the companies behind Richmond’s casino proposal, and a host on an Urban One radio station are drawing backlash over remarks they made about opponents of the project, which included antisemitic and racist slurs.
The referendum committee leading an anti-casino campaign, No Means No Casino, shared clips from radio stations owned by Urban One, a Maryland-based media conglomerate partnering with Churchill Downs for the proposed $562 million casino development in South Richmond.
In one of the recorded clips from a Nov. 1 show on The Box 99.5 in Richmond, host Preston Brown calls Paul Goldman, the director of No Means No Casino, “A Jew who’s got the same trait as Judas.” He then describes Goldman as a “white Jew with the background of Judas.”
Brown can be heard trying to walk back the comments, which were not addressed by anyone else on the air. The antisemitic remarks were denounced by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Urban One, who described Brown as a temporary guest host and not an employee of the station.
“We must call hate out in all of its forms, and his remarks are completely unacceptable,” Stoney posted on X. “I’m pleased to hear the station has issued an apology and fired the individual.”
Marsha Landess, the regional vice president for Urban One-owned Radio One, called Brown’s comments “horrible and offensive” in a statement and said Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins apologized directly to Goldman.
“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,” Landess said. “He will not be appearing again.”
Goldman said he accepted the apology from Liggins in a statement, but added that “the whole pro-Casino side seem oblivious to the damage they have done to Richmond.” He pointed out that they failed to address or apologize to “all the people individually singled out.”
“Richmond Wins Vote Yes is about bringing people together to build a better Richmond and provide meaningful economic opportunity for the city and its people,” Richmond Wins Vote Yes, the pro-casino referendum committee, wrote in a statement. “This campaign unequivocally condemns the anti-Semitic language and divisive comments that were made on the air.”
On another Urban One radio show in Richmond, Praise 104.7, host Gary Flowers and Urban One founder Cathy Hughes can be heard talking about “two Black Richmonds,” comparing “average” citizens and the “elite.” In the Oct. 18 clip, Hughes is heard then saying: “you’re saying we’ve got house n—— and field n——.”
Hughes is heard addressing the costs of pushing the Richmond Grand Casino proposal in one of the posted clips, describing it as a “waste.” Urban One has spent more than $4 million on the pro-casino campaign, which has nearly cost $10 million, per the Virginia Public Access Project.
“I am so mad at this opposition. You know how much good I could have done,” Hughes says. “I’ve had to pay lawyers and accountants and lobbyists and make contributions to everybody I thought could influence.”
In one clip, Flowers calls out Allan-Charles Chipman, an outspoken critic of the proposed casino, and advocate Chelsea Higgs Wise. Flowers said he asked Chipman for a sit-down, claiming that he was being “funded by the other side.”
“It’s disrespectful to us to our heritage as a people to call us the N-word for opposing economic exploitation,” Chipman told 8News’ Rolynn Wilson Friday.
“They slandered and defamed my name, saying that I was paid by anti-casino people, which is untrue,” Chipman went on to say, “I’ve never received money from the anti-casino campaign.”
Spokespeople for Stoney’s office, Urban One and the Richmond Grand Casino proposal have not responded to interview requests for the mayor or Hughes and did not address Hughes’ remarks despite multiple requests for comment.
Early voting at local voter registration offices ends Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. Election Day is Nov. 7, when polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.