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Judge Robertson (AP Photo)
*On this date in 2004, racism caused a Richmond, Virginia, General District Judge to step down.
White judge Ralph B. Robertson resigned after the disclosure of racially charged comments he wrote in an Internet chat room. These included statements suggesting that Blacks have a biological tendency toward violence. He stopped hearing cases last week and filed for retirement, which is to take effect April 1st of 2004, after 19 years on the bench.
The Richmond Free Press, a weekly newspaper with a predominantly Black readership, reported on March 4 that Robertson endorsed the notion that "African Americans are prone to crime and violence because it is in their genes" and agreed with another chat-room writer who said that some minorities are "people who have no regard for sanitation, courtesy, private property, etc." "My heart and my deepest apology go out to the Black community of the city of Richmond," he said in remarks published in the Free Press.
When reached at his home by The Associated Press, Robertson only said he was sorry and declined to comment further. The judge's online comments were posted between January 25 and February 19. The Free Press got the comments from a chat room member and later spoke to Robertson, who confirmed that he wrote them. "I am not a racist," he wrote, according to the paper. "I am a racialist. The difference being I don't discriminate against an individual, but I do recognize the fact that there are a lot of differences between races which I assume from a biological standpoint is caused by difference in DNA. "If DNA controls everything else, why shouldn't it cause a difference in ability to learn or play sports or a proclivity for violence?"
Robertson, 60, criticized civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as a plagiarist and described Jesse Jackson as "a thief, a liar and a traitor to his people." He was also critical of the civil rights movement in which he participated when he was younger. He wrote, "I have long since removed myself from the civil-rights movement and generally see it for the scam that it (is) and was." Robertson was a defense attorney and assistant prosecutor before becoming a judge in 1985. He was elected to his fourth six-year term in 2003.