A New York lawyer who was caught on video yelling at employees at a salad bar finally spoke up on social media. Though he was captured accusing Spanish-speaking Manhattan Fresh Kitchen employees of being undocumented immigrants, and threatening to call ICE to have them deported, New York lawyer Aaron Schlossberg apologized and said he isn't racist in a statement Tuesday.
"What the video did not convey is the real me. I am not a racist," Schlossberg wrote in a message shared on Twitter. "One of the reasons I moved to New York is precisely because of the remarkable diversity offered in this wonderful city. I love this country and this city, in part because of the immigrants and the diversity of cultures immigrants bring to this country."
Schlossberg said that seeing the video footage of himself on the internet opened his eyes, and that he realized his method of expression was "unacceptable."
"I see my words and actions hurt people, and for that I am deeply sorry," Schlossberg wrote. "While people should be able to express themselves freely, they should do so calmly and respectfully."
In the video, Schlossberg appears to be having a meltdown because the employees at that particular Fresh Kitchen were not speaking English. "My guess is they're not documented," he says to one employee. "So my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country."
At one point, he also incorrectly asserted that undocumented immigrants received welfare benefits — which is untrue in the vast majority of cases. "If they have the balls to come here and live off my money — I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to live here," he said during his rant. "The least they can do is speak English."
And while viral videos often fade into the background as new memes and videos take their place, this may not be the case for Schlossberg. CNN reports that two lawmakers — Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. — are looking to take action against Schlossberg for his unprofessional conduct. According to the report, the pair filed a formal complaint with the NY State Unified Court System, seeking to suspend Schlossberg's law license until he "amends his actions."
"What was witnessed in the vile video from Mr. Schlossberg, which has since gone viral, is humiliating and insulting attack on the more than 50 years of progress that this nation has made since the civil rights movement," the two pair wrote in their complaint, which they also shared on Twitter. They continued: "The audacity to profile and verbally assault innocent bystanders and customers in a public commercial location is a violation of our civil society."
They contended that blatantly racist remarks and behavior should warrant consequences:
The egregiousness of bald-faced racism, in all of its ugliness, must be rejected and replaced with the kindness, solidarity and sense of togetherness that has made this great American experiment in democracy a shining example for all the world to see and admire for over two centuries.
As for Schlossberg's apology, Twitter users appeared less than enthusiastic about it. By the middle of Tuesday afternoon, the tweet containing his note had received approximately 300 cumulative likes and retweets, but it had also received nearly 4,000 responses, a phenomenon often referred to as "the ratio."
As a general and anecdotal rule, when a tweet's interactions are that widely spread apart between responses and other interactions, there's a greater chance that users felt compelled to respond to the written sentiment rather than "favorite" or share it. Indeed, most of the top responses were comprised of Twitter users telling Schlossberg that they didn't believe him.
Whether or not Schlossberg will actually suffer consequences for his rant or not is yet unclear. However, his viral fame seems to have staying power, at least for now, and elected officials seem to be paying attention