MGM Resorts International plans to redesign its security guard uniforms after a Jewish woman complained, saying that they evoke Holocaust imagery.
On July 13, June Scharf was attending a comedy show at the MGM Northfield Casino near Cleveland when she spotted the MGM security guard uniform: a yellow polo shirt with a 6-point star badge.
“It’s a real trigger,” she told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “You see something like that and you stop in your tracks…It’s something we directly associate with a time, a place and a tragedy.”
Starting in 1938, Jewish people in Germany and other Nazi-occupied countries were forced to wear yellow identification badges with the 6-point Star of David and the word “Jew” inscribed in the center, according to the Holocaust Center. While the star on the MGM uniform has a security badge image, for Scharf, the uniforms triggered painful images of her Jewish family members (on her grandfather’s side), who were persecuted by Nazis.
“I spoke out because the badge set against a yellow background is extremely evocative of the Nazi mistreatment of Jewish people in Germany,” Scharf tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I have family members who perished in the Holocaust, so I feel close to that period in history and the long shadow that it casts.”
After witnessing the uniforms, Scharf first tried to contact MGM’s Northfield property but was unable to leave a voicemail. So, she enlisted the help of a local community paper, the Cleveland Jewish News (CJN).
MGM Resorts International declined Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment on the controversy. However, upon receiving a call from CJN on June 22, MGM spokesperson Debra DeShong said the company would “begin the process of changing the badges on the uniforms in question” throughout the company.
“We regret anyone was offended — it was certainly not our intention. We are committed to ensuring that everyone feels welcome on our properties,” DeShong wrote in an email to the Cleveland Jewish News. “Diversity and inclusion is at the core of our company’s values.”
According to DeShong, the offensive uniforms have been in use for a little over a year and are currently used at casinos in Springfield, Mass., and Las Vegas. While the company says it plans to redesign its uniforms, it is unclear when the changes will be implemented. Regardless, Scharf is relieved that the company is making the “necessary change” to the uniforms’ Holocaust imagery.
“I have a lot of respect for their interest in making a necessary change. I’m grateful for their swift and comprehensive approach,” Scharf told CJN.
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