03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Grijalva and Latino Leaders: GOP leader's 'brown people' comments are "divisive and irresponsible"

As reported in the Huffington Post, Arizona Republican National Committeeman Bruce Ash called a Tucson talk radio show last week, and said if Democrats want to learn about crime in Tucson they should "ask the brown people."

Now U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Arizona Democratic Hispanic Caucus and the Pima County Democratic Party have called on Ash to apologize or resign, saying his remarks promote "racial stereotypes."

In the comments, made on a conservative talk radio program, Ash suggested Pima County Democratic Chair Jeff Rogers knew little about crime because he lived "in a midtown neighborhood," unlike the "brown people" who live in Tucson's Hispanic neighborhoods (records kept by the Tucson police show no statistical evidence to support Ash's suggestion that crime is higher in Hispanic neighborhoods).

In response, Congressman Raul Grijalva released a statement through the Pima County Democrats, in which he labeled the GOP National Committeeman's comments "divisive and irresponsible." The Congressman, in his fourth term as Representative of Arizona District 7, said Ash should resign or apologize, and asked the Republican to "explain exactly what he meant when he said 'brown people;' who was he referring to?"

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) joined Grijalva in expressing outrage over the GOP National Committeeman's remarks. LULAC's Arizona State Director Anna Valenzuela said Ash's comments were "offensive," "derogatory" and "appalling." LULAC's state director also questioned if the Arizona Republican Party wanted someone who "linked crime to skin color" as one of their national leaders, a view echoed by Arizona State Senator Paula Aboud: "The Arizona Republican Party can show it doesn't share his view by making a change." David Olvera, chairman of the Arizona Democratic Hispanic Caucus concurred. Calling Ash's comments "ugly," Olvera said: "To suggest that strong Latino communities are crime-infested is over-the-top. Their houses may not be as big as in Bruce Ash's neighborhood but they are safe."

GOP National Committeeman Ash made the controversial comments while expressing his strong support for Proposition 200, an unfunded proposition which would have mandated a hiring ratio of 2.4 police officers per 1,000 residents in the city of Tucson. The proposition was strongly supported by the Republican party and was overwhelmingly defeated by Tucson voters in yesterday's election.