Aaron Schlossberg was abusive to Spanish-speaking workers. Activists hosted a good natured party with a theme: retribution
There is a street party happening in New York this evening. There will be taco trucks, Jarritos margaritas and a mariachi band but this is not a Cinco de Mayo parade that got the date wrong. This partys only theme will be retribution.
Festivities are taking place outside the Manhattan apartment of Aaron Schlossberg, the lawyer who was filmed being irate and abusive towards Hispanic restaurant workers this week. Schlossberg threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) on the workers, saying he believed they were illegal immigrants because they were speaking Spanish to some customers.
Luis Magaa, a Mexican American, who is part of the millennials for Bernie grassroots network, wanted to host a Latin party as a response to Schlossbergs outburst. He created an event page on Facebook, writing: Assuming all Spanish speakers are undocumented is not only ignorant but a little sad. Its also a little sad that Mr Schlossberg thinks all Hispanics are on Welfare. However, Hispanics are not sad people and we will gladly educate you on our culture and language by throwing a big fiesta.
The event quickly grew in popularity and more organisers got involved. Speaking over the telephone while making frantic last minute preparations, Moumita Ahmed, one of the organisers, said the idea is that everyone brings their own part of Latin culture.
Its a decentralised effort everyone is bringing their own flavour. Its a party, so were going to have music; Im making a playlist right now. Jade Sixty are providing tacos, in solidarity with the food industry workers he was shouting at. Theres a Jarritos truck coming. We have lots of immigrant groups and participating. Were doing the promoting but in terms of the programme were really letting the people bring the culture.
The party was originally going to be outside Schlossbergs place of work but since hes been kicked out of his office building, it will take place outside his apartment, and extra funds have been allocated to food, free drinks and props.
The event has been organised in the four days since Schlossberg was seen ranting at staff in a midtown salad bar. Your employees are speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English, he told the stores manager. Every person I spoke to … Its America! I will be following up. Schlossberg then threatened to call Ice, saying he bets the employees working there are undocumented.
In a contradiction to his own racist logic, he then suggested that the employees were living on welfare funds. If they have the balls to come here and live off of my money … I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here. The least they can do is speak English. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for most social security benefits or welfare programmes.
He finished by implying one of the employees was overweight, saying she should take a break from food, before exiting the store.
Since the video was made public, two elected New York representatives, the congressman Adriano Espaillat and the Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr, have made formal complaints to the New York court system, although its unlikely Schlossberg will be disbarred for the incident. New Yorks mayor, Bill De Blasio, indirectly commented on the incident, tweeting that 8.6 million people speak 200 different languages in New York. Theyre all New Yorkers and theyre all welcome here, he wrote.
Schlossberg has also been hounded by reporters asking him about his comments.
Some, including the Atlantic reporter Julia Ioffe, have questioned whether harassing Schlossberg is a helpful response, but Ahmed denies thats what theyre doing. This isnt hounding him, were celebrating Latin culture and showing the world that for one racist theres thousands of people who will come out and uplift a community. We have to hold him accountable, especially when we have a president who is upending communities by calling them animals and from shithole countries. We have to put these people in place, and this man has a history of going to protests and harassing people.
She says the event isnt going to turn nasty. Were not coming outside his apartment with pitchforks and knives. If anything wed like him to come out, apologise and join us.
Update – 21:00 EST
Hundreds of people showed up to the party, as did the mariachi band. The atmosphere was jovial and peaceful throughout the afternoon. The most heated things got were when crowds chanted make racists afraid again. Police arrived earlier to set up barriers and protect Schlossbergs $1.2 million home.
The New York Observer reports that Carlos Jesus, president of the Young Progressives of America, spoke to the crowd, chanting: Racists are not welcome here … if you wanna speak Spanish, speak Spanish! Songs including Luis Fonsis Despacito and Selenas Bidi Bidi Bom Bom were blasted over the PA.