Protesters target lawyer who ranted against Spanish speakers
New York – Mariachi bands sang “La Cucaracha” and other Mexican songs during protests on Friday in front of the apartment building and the former office of a lawyer caught on video ranting against Spanish-speaking workers.
Demonstrators outside the Manhattan office building demanded the disbarment of attorney Aaron Schlossberg, who on Wednesday yelled at a customer and workers of a Fresh Kitchen restaurant for not speaking English.
“If this man is not disbarred then we will continue to be exposed to insults”, said Teresa Garcia. “He is insulting people who speak Spanish. He talks like we are all undocumented immigrants. He does not know some of us were born here.”
In the video, which went viral, Schlossberg said he would be calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement to have the workers “kicked out of my country.” He complained to another restaurant employee “it’s America” and “staff should be speaking English.”
The clip sparked outrage among many critics, including U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who wrote to New York state’s court system, which has a grievance committee for attorney complaints. Espaillat and Diaz, Democrats, called the video “vile.”
On Friday, demonstrators sang along with the mariachi performers and carried signs that read “Se habla Spanish” or “Racism, no Bueno.”
“Long live Spanish, our language!” Bladi Medina said through a megaphone. “Why are we being disrespected this way?”
Schlossberg was not seen at either protest.
The company that runs the building Schlossberg uses as his law firm’s address has said his agreement with it was terminated because his actions “were contrary” to its regulations.
Inside the eatery were the video was shot, employee Fidel De Jesus said Schlossberg’s outburst started when he spoke in Spanish with a customer he knew. He then saw Schlossberg shooting video of him with his phone.
De Jesus said Schlossberg angrily told him he should speak English.
“I felt a bit helpless, but I was mostly in shock,” De Jesus said.
The worker also said he was nervous because of the video Schlossberg took of him and the threat he made to call ICE on him.
Schlossberg didn’t respond to a call seeking comment.
Protest leaders handed out complaint forms that can be sent to an attorney grievance committee run by the state court system.
It’s unclear what action the committee might take. Naomi Goldstein, deputy chief counsel for the committee, said anything filed before the committee is confidential.
Employees of the city’s Commission on Human Rights went to the restaurant earlier Friday to inform people of their rights against discrimination and harassment. They did not comment on whether the commission would investigate Schlossberg.
An ICE spokesman said the agency had no comment on the Schlossberg video. He said ICE’s tip line is for making legitimate reports of suspected criminal activity and “should not be used as an instrument to intimidate or harass.”