On Thursday’s I normally do a rundown of stories on injustice happening across the country that haven’t really broken through and made national news. Lord knows the injustice is so thick in this place that I could speak about injustice every single day and still never get through all of the stories. As you’ve heard me say before, 2018 is on pace to be the deadliest year ever measured for police brutality in the United States. Not just that, but hate crimes and harassment are up to the highest they’ve been in generations. It doesn’t feel worse, it’s worse.
That’s why I’m always glad when I get a chance to bring you all some good news for a change!
On this past Tuesday during lunch time in midtown Manhattan, a Latina woman, who is an American citizen I might add, walked next door to her job to get some lunch. This is a New York past time. The city is full of delis and restaurants up and down the streets that get super crowded during the workday lunch hour. She had done this same thing dozens of times – so much so that she had become friends with many of the staff there.
This was a deli style spot, Fresh Kitchen, where you just walk up to the counter and place your order and take your food to go. It has a few seats, but New Yorkers often just grab their food and go. After placing her order, she began speaking to staff members, but did so in Spanish.
Let me pause there. New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world. That’s part of what I love about it. Every day is like the United Nations. Nearly 50% of our 8 million residents speak multiple languages and weave in and out of them every single day. It’s a skill I wish I had. My American education failed me in this regard and probably failed most of you too.
And so the woman placed her, casually greeted her friends in Spanish, and stood back to wait for her food. Little did she know that a white supremacist was in line too. And I mean that. This man is a full blown white supremacist. He has stalked and harassed Muslims and other people of color in New York for years, but nobody had been able to identify him.
His appearance is disarming. And I wanna unpack that for a second. He’s not some toothless, tattooed country redneck. He’s fit, trim, athletic, and is wearing business clothes. He’s well groomed and appears affluent, but is as racist as any backwoods Mississippi Klan member.
Seeing two women speak Spanish to one another set him off. And instantly he began harassing the both the staff member and the customer – telling them they need to speak English, that they need to get out of his country, that he’s going to call ICE agents on them to be deported, then begins demeaning the way the women look – body shaming them. Thankfully, just as I spoke about this past Tuesday, the customer he was harassing knew to pull out her phone and begin filming him.
And he didn’t care. He saw himself being filmed. He liked it. They’re bold nowadays.
So Tuesday night she posted on Facebook. And one of her friends sent it to me.
On Wednesday morning I posted the video on my Facebook page, and on Twitter, and Instagram – asking one simple question – “who is this man?”
He had a distinct look and the video is as clear as clear can be. It was my belief that it would take me a few days to find him. Immediately people began sending me videos of him harassing other people of color throughout New York City.
By 11am, one of his college classmates contacted me, then another, then another, then five more. They all knew him and weren’t surprised in the least bit.
At 11:37am I was able to positively identify him as Aaron M. Schlossberg, a successful attorney with offices just a block away from that deli. He has a law website. He has clients. He has a Yelp page and Google reviews. He is literally living and functioning and blending into everyday society as a normal man – a busy lawyer – while also functioning as full fledged bigot whenever and wherever he feels like it.
Formal complaints have been filed against him with the New York Bar Association and with the New York Human Rights Commission – a governmental agency we have here in the city.
His name trended on Twitter for most of the day yesterday and he will forever be attached to this bigotry.
Listen – Trump has empowered these people to be their worst selves. That’s all Trump is capable of inspiring, but we can’t just let public bigotry come and go without consequence. We must call it out. We must hold them accountable ourselves. We must show them that we will expose them and make them famous for their bigotry.
I’ll close with this thought. We caught this man, but my hope is that other bigots are watching carefully and have second thoughts about doing what this man did. They can try it, but we will expose them too.
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