SACRAMENTO (CBS13/AP) — Black lawmakers at the California state Capitol are calling on fans to boycott Los Angeles Clippers games after alleged recordings emerged of owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks.
Sterling is purported to have told a woman not to bring black people to his games or associate with them.
State Sen. Holly Mitchell, the chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, denounced the NBA owner’s remarks.
“We’re trying to hurt Mr. Sterling’s pocketbook so that he understands how offensive his comments are,” he said. “Asking somebody to not go to a basketball game is the least we can do when people paid a huge debt with their very lives, in terms of taking a stand against racism.”
The calls come despite a request from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, acting as an advisor to the NBA Players Association, to wait until the league issues its decision on possible sanctions against Sterling.
“Let’s see if our issues are being addressed based on the information we’ve been able to gather,” he said.
But Mitchell says it’s important to send a message to Sterling now.
“He is exploiting the people,” she said. “Seventy-eight percent of the NBA is comprised of African-American players. A significant—the vast majority of his team is comprised of African-American young men, who he earns money off of their athleticism.”
Other members of the state Legislature’s black caucus blasted the comments attributed to Sterling.
Democratic Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown of San Bernardino calls the incident a reminder of a “pervasive permanence of hatred.” Her comments came on the Assembly floor Monday as she supported a resolution declaring Holocaust Remembrance Week.
Democratic Assemblyman Isadore Hall of Compton says Sterling’s alleged conduct is an “utter embarrassment” to the NBA and to Californians who believed the state had risen above racism.
The NAACP Los Angeles chapter is pulling plans to honor Sterling with a lifetime achievement award.
Donations made by Sterling, who has owned the team since 1981, will be returned, Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles NAACP, said at a news conference Monday. Jenkins would not say how much money was involved.
“There is a personal, economic and social price that Mr. Sterling must pay for his attempt to turn back the clock on race relations,” he said.
Sterling, 80, had been scheduled to receive the honor on May 15 as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the Los Angeles branch of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
He had been chosen to receive the award because of his long history of donating to minority charities and giving game tickets to inner city children, Jenkins said. The NAACP has honored Sterling several times in the past.
The Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation gave $5,000 to the NAACP’s Los Angeles chapter in 2010, according to tax records, and Sterling was listed as his foundation’s only contributor. There were no records of further NAACP contributions in 2011 or 2012, the latest years for which records were available.
The NBA is expected to announce Tuesday what actions it might take against Sterling.
There has been no official confirmation that it is Sterling on the recording, portions of which were released over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin.