It all started with people speaking Spanish to one another in a New York restaurant. This was apparently enough to set off a lawyer named Aaron Schlossberg. Schlossberg overheard a conversation between an employee and two customers and was none too pleased that they would dare speak their native language to each other in his presence. In a video that has now gone viral, Schlossberg, who works as a lawyer in New York, can be seen and heard harassing both people, yelling “Your staff are speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English – this is America.”
Aaron Schlossberg continued his racially charged rant, which included accusing both the employee and the customers of being illegal immigrants. “I will be following up because my guess is they’re not documented and my next call will be to ICE,” Schlossberg continues to yell in the video, “Each of them will be kicked out of my country.” Schlossberg took it even further, continuing to yell “If they have the balls to come here and live off my money — I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to be here — the least they can do is speak English.” The manager of the Fresh Kitchen restaurant where Schlossberg went on his now-viral rant, told the New York Daily News “He’s a customer, so I had to stay professional and ask him to leave. That’s what I did.”
The Spanish-speaking Fresh Kitchen employee, Oscar Villanueva, also spoke with the NY Daily News, saying “He said we have to speak English. He started saying a lot of ugly words . . . . We felt really bad, humiliated.” The customer who was speaking Spanish with Villanueva, Deena Suazo, said to the NY Daily News “It’s disgusting to me, in this day and age, that people think it’s OK to walk around and be disrespectful and racist.” According to Buzzfeed, it was Deena’s friend, Emily Serrano, who captured the video, which was then originally published by Deena’s husband Edward Suazo on Facebook. Edward wrote in his post “What a big man talking down to a couple of women and a helpless employee. I wish someone tells me I can’t speak my native language! First of all, they weren’t talking to you.”
The video quickly went viral, and although Aaron Schlossberg was not immediately identified, Edward’s post caught the attention of writer and activist Shaun King, who posted the video on Twitter and asked his followers “Who is this bigot in Midtown Manhattan? What’s his name?”
Further investigating by Shaun King produced a video filmed last year by journalist Isaac Saul. In a piece written for A Plus, Saul captured a group of Jewish protesters hurling insults at pro-Palestine Haredi Jews. None other than Aaron Schlossberg was present and appeared front and centre.
Hours later, King had been contacted by several of Schlossberg’s former law school classmates, who identified him and said “they aren’t surprised” according to King’s tweet. King also noted that he would be contacting the New York Bar Association to look into Schlossberg’s behaviour.
In another tweet, King shared the google listing for Schlossberg’s law practice. This began a huge backlash against the Manhattan lawyer, as his business was negatively reviewed down to one star (it has since been set back to four stars), and commenters left their opinions of Schlossberg based on his behaviour in the video.
In another tweet, King shared the google listing for Schlossberg’s law practice. This began a huge backlash against the Manhattan lawyer. His Yelp page became flooded with negative one-star reviews highlighting his racist behaviour.
A Yelp reviewer with the user name Ani Q wrote a particularly in-depth review that mentioned other outbursts by Aaron Schlossberg. He wrote “There are at least two incidents that have been recorded in public settings by cell-phone video & cameras in the last year. One can only speculate how many other incidents there have been involving Aaron that weren’t recorded.”
The previous outbursts by Aaron Schlossberg were captured long before his rant in Fresh Kitchen. The first encounter was the previously mentioned protest shot by Isaac Saul, in which Schlossberg yelled at a counter-protesting rabbi “you’re not a Jew!” The second encounter was on a New York sidewalk with vlogger Willie Morris. In a YouTube video, Morris recalled that Schlossberg, while walking in the opposite direction, quickly approached him and shoved him with a briefcase.
Morris states in his video “[Schlossberg] immediately … starts yelling mostly racist and xenophobic stuff.” Schlossberg can be heard saying during the encounter “I’m going to call the police. You don’t run into me. I’m a citizen here, you’re not. You’re an ugly f***ing foreigner. F*** you.”
Morris made sure to mention in his video that he was born in Massachusetts (he also holds up his passport for posterity). Morris told CNN about seeing the Fresh Kitchen video “I let it go and pretty much forgot about it until I was scrolling through Twitter yesterday and randomly saw a thumbnail and thought, ‘No freaking way!’”
A huge protest was held outside. Part of that protest was started on a GoFundMe page. The owner of the page, Mark Goldberg, wanted to raise $500 to have a mariachi band perform outside of Schlossberg’s office. He raised over $1000, and the band played as promised.
The consequences for Aaron Schlossberg came to a head on May 17th, when he was kicked out of his Manhattan office space. The business Centre where Schlossberg’s office was located was owned by Corporate Suites. Corporate Suites President Hayim Grant told the New York Post “His actions are just not consistent with our community and rules and regulations … It’s totally contrary to everything we believe in as a company and personally.”
At the same time as his eviction, Congressman Adriano Espaillat and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. were filing a formal complaint against Aaron Schlossberg with the New York State Unified Court System’s Departmental Disciplinary Committee. If the panel investigates Schlossberg, they could find grounds to “sanction, censure, suspend or recommend disbarment,” according to a quote given to the New York post by a unified court system official.
Two security workers at Aaron Schlossberg’s former office building shared their thoughts with the New York Post, saying that they hoped Schlossberg would get kicked out after the video went viral. One worker said “I’ll throw my shoes at him. We’re all hungry for him. If it was up to me I wouldn’t let him in. We all want to bury him one way or another.”
Another piece of information about Aaron Schlossberg that found its way to the surface after his Kitchen Fresh outburst, was the fact that he had donated $500 to Donald Trump’s campaign, as reported on Forward.com.
Despite the fact that the behaviour of Aaron Schlossberg was deplorable, it did inspire some bouts of creativity from the internet community. One of the most inspired bits was someone changing Schlossberg’s business listing on Google to “Spanish Restuarant.”
And because no story like the saga of Aaron Schlossberg would be complete without a teaspoon of irony, the website for Schlossberg’s law firm boasts that he speaks Spanish. Schlossberg has since issued an apology on Twitter, however, based on the replies, people are not buying it.