West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) is denying that comments he made about a high school basketball team and its coaches are racist.
When Justice isn't running the state of West Virginia, he's a coach for the girls basketball team at Greenbrier East High School in Lewisburg. On Tuesday, they played against Woodrow Wilson High School, but the game ended early when one of the Woodrow Wilson coaches got into an altercation with a person in the stands.
Afterward, an irritated Justice told The Beckley Register-Herald: "I hate to say it any other way, but honest to God's truth is the same thing happened over at Woodrow two different times out of the Woodrow players. They're a bunch of thugs. The whole team left the bench, the coach is in a fight, they walked off the floor, they called the game. ... They don't know how to behave, and at the end of the day, you got what you got."
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Woodrow Wilson's coaches are black, and there are also black players on the team. By calling them "thugs," this was a "thinly veiled racial slur," West Virginia state Del. Mike Pushkin (D) tweeted. On Wednesday, Justice said in a statement there was nothing wrong with calling the teenage girls and their coaches thugs, because the definition "is clear — it means violence, bullying, and disorderly conduct. And we, as West Virginians, should have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior. Anyone that would accuse me of making a racial slur is totally absurd."
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