An Aurora city councilman issued an apology this week for ads that many are deeming racist towards Muslims, Latinos, South Asians and the Black community.
The videos were posted on the Facebook page of Councilman Steve Sundberg’s restaurant, Legends of Aurora Sports Grill, back in 2020. They depict Sundberg dressed as stereotypical caricatures of different ethnicities.
“In a dark Covid shut down, when businesses were fighting to survive, with people experiencing mental health issues, uncertainty, suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence and fear, we were able to provided through a number of videos, humor and lightheartedness, which drove business and cheered people up,” Sundbreg wrote in a statement.
Many groups and lawmakers on the local and state levels have voiced their displeasure over the videos calling them disrespectful. Sundberg was elected to the Aurora City Council in 2021. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman acknowledged the videos were posted prior to Sundberg being elected to the City Council and defended him in a statement.
“Made over 2 years ago no one expressed offense,” Sundberg said. "Not any video was intended to be offensive. However, it has recently came to my attention that some people have found content in the videos. For anyone I offend, I apologize and will learn from it. In light of the hits, I have taken some of the videos down.”
In one video, Sundberg is dressed in a turban, robe, and a fake beard while sitting with his legs crossed on a rug-covered table. He uses an accent as he reads customer reviews. At the end of the video, a kitchen employee offers him bacon. With a begrudgingly face, he accepts the offer with a scimitar in hand with the word “Forbidden” flashing in red. The consumption of pork is taboo for Muslims.
In another video, he wears a Mexican Falsa blanket and pretends to be a translator for the same employee while advertising enchiladas.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim civil rights group, released a statement decrying the videos.
“The message that these videos send to members of the minority communities in Aurora is that they are not respected and cannot expect to be represented by this elected official. We urge him to meet with leaders from the impacted communities and commit to serving all constituents equally. We offer our services to coordinate that meeting.” CAIR National Communications Coordinator Ismail Allison wrote.
Sundberg was elected to the Aurora City Council in 2021. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman acknowledged the videos were posted prior to Sundberg being elected to the City Council and defended him in a statement.
They are an unfortunate attempt at humor and they are in poor taste, but I don’t believe that he, being married to an African immigrant and having biracial children, is in any way a racist and that he is somehow incapable of being an elected representative in one of the most diverse cities in the United States,” Coffman wrote.
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