A New York City lawyer has been accused of launching a bigoted rant at employees of a Manhattan restaurant because they were taking orders in Spanish and speaking in the language to each other. Aaron M. Schlossberg was identified by social media users on Wednesday, WPIX-TV reports.
Schlossberg, 42, specializes in commercial and business law and runs his own law office in Manhattan. His office is next door to the Fresh Kitchen restaurant where the incident occurred. He did not respond to emails and phone calls from Heavy about the video and the outcry on social media. The video was first posted on Facebook on Tuesday, May 15, by Edward Suazo.
“They (were) on (their) lunch time and ordering (their) food and just because they (were) speaking in Spanish to the waiter this asshole jumps in and started to call the waiter and my wife and her best friend all types of names and threatened to call I.C.E on them and the employees,” Suazo wrote on Facebook. “What a big man talking down to couple of women and a helpless employee. I wish someone tells me I can’t speak in my native language! First of all they wasn’t talking to you!!”
The Gothamist first reported on the video. Witnesses told the news site the man was thrown out of the restaurant. The incident happened as customers were waiting for food at the Fresh Kitchen on Madison Avenue near 39th Street, Gothamist reports. Shaun King, an activist and writer for The Intercept, posted on Twitter on Wednesday asking for people to name the man in the video. Three hours later, King posted Schlossberg’s name and info about his law firm. He said he was contacted by Schlossberg’s college classmates who identified him as the man in the video.
Schlossberg emerged from his apartment Thursday morning and was followed by reporters for about 10 minutes, but did not comment about the incident, according to the New York Daily News. While hiding behind an umbrella, Schlossberg called the police, claiming the Daily News reporter and photographer were harassing him. “They’re yelling, they’re claiming things that aren’t true. They’re grabbing my personal items. … Defaming me. I can’t even move, because they’re blocking me,” Schlossberg told dispatchers, according to the Daily News. He eventually got into a cab and drove away. He later showed up at court in Queens, where he was confronted by a WPIX-TV reporter.
Security at the Madison Avenue building where Schlossberg has an office told the Daily News that he was barred from the building. “If he comes here, we’re going to kick him out,” an unnamed security guard told the newspaper. But Schlossberg shouted, “false,” to reporters when asked about that Thursday morning. He was wrong about that. Hayim Grant, the president of Corporate Suites, the company that operates the business center at 275 Madison Avenue where Schlossberg rented space, told the New York Post, “We have terminated his services agreement with us.” He added he was “completely shocked,” by the video, saying, “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.”
On May 22, Schlossberg issued an apology via his law firm’s Twitter account, writing, “To the people I insulted, I apologize. Seeing myself online opened my eyes – the manner in which I expressed myself is unacceptable and is not the person I am. I see my words and actions hurt people and for that I am deeply sorry. While people should be able to express themselves freely, they should do so calmly and respectfully. What the video did not convey is the real me. I am not racist. 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 immigrants and the diversity of cultures immigrants bring to this country. Again, my sincerest apologies to anyone and everyone I hurt. Thank you.”
Here’s what you need to know about Aaron Schlossberg and the incident:
1. The Man Can Be Heard in the Video Ranting ‘I Pay for Their Welfare’ & Threatening to Call ICE to Have the Workers ‘Kicked Out of My Country’
The 55-second video, which you can watch above, begins with a man, identified as Aaron Schlossberg, talking to a Fresh Kitchen employee, telling him that his staff is speaking to customers in Spanish, “when they should be speaking English.” The employee tells Schlossberg sometimes they do speak in Spanish, and Schlossberg cuts him off and turns around and points to the counter, saying, “every person I listened to, he spoke it, he spoke it, she’s speaking it, it’s America. Your staff should be speaking English, not Spanish.”
Bystanders can be heard reacting angrily as Schlossberg begins to leave, telling the employee he will be following up. “My guess is they are not documented. So my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country. 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 live here. The least they can do is speak English. If you intend on running a place in Midtown Manhattan your staff should be speaking English, not Spanish.”
He then turns to a bystander and holds up his phone, saying, “Honey, I’m calling ICE.” He then makes an apparent reference to the woman’s weight, pointing to her stomach and saying, “Maybe you shouldn’t eat that sandwich, take a break from the food,” before storming out.
A witness told Gothamist that Schlossberg was thrown out of the restaurant. “[They] let the lady stay but had the man go, because he was causing the trouble, screaming at people,” the witness told Gothamist. “I don’t know what to say. People are taught not to be bystanders, but it’s hard to get involved. This guy was really, really angry.”
Another worker told WPIX-TV, “It was crazy. We just watched him scream, it was very fast. After he left, we just went back to work.”
The manager seen in the video, who asked not to be named, talked to the New York Daily News about the incident. He said a lunchtime regular was speaking Spanish with an employee when Schlossberg began causing a scene. “They were speaking Spanish because they are friends. He got mad, waiting in line for his food. He stormed out,” the manager, who said he was infuriated by Schlossberg’s behavior, but kept his cool, told the Daily News. “He’s a customer, so I had to stay professional and ask him to leave. That’s what I did.”
One of the workers who was the target of the rant, Oscar Villanueva, told the Daily News, “He heard us speak Spanish and started yelling, ‘You motherf*ckers!’ He said we have to speak English. He started saying a lot of ugly words … We felt really bad, humiliated.”
The manager told ABC News, “This is New York City, everybody is different here, everybody has different opinions and some people have a hatred mind. Publicly they should not be doing that. I have never seen anything like this in the restaurant before.”
The video was filmed by Emily Serrano, who is a friend of Edward Suazo’s wife, Deena Suazo. The manager told ABC News that Serrano and Suazo’s wife are regular customers, while Schlossberg is not believed to be a regular. Deena Suazo told the 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. The United States is made of all cultures and ethnicities.” Suazo said Schlossberg also attempted to demean the workers and his fellow customers by declaring he was more educated than them, she told the newspaper. She added, “I speak Spanish and English. And I just might feel more comfortable ordering in Spanish.”
Serrano told ABC News that after she stopped filming, Schlossberg threw his sandwich and water on the counter and said he didn’t want to give the restaurant his money. When he walked out, people in the restaurant clapped, Serrano said.
2. Schlossberg, Who Studied Abroad in Spain, Promotes His Fluency in Spanish on His Law Firm’s Website & on Linkedin
On his Linkedin profile, Aaron Schlossberg says he studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, while in college. He also writes that he speaks four languages, French, Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. On his law firm’s website, Schlossberg promotes his ability to speak those languages to his clients.
“Aaron M. Schlossberg doesn’t seem to mind people who speak other languages when he can make money from them,” one Twitter user commented. Another seconded that statement, tweeting, “For the record, I’d like to point out that when the ball bag Aaron M. Schlossberg wants your money, he gladly speaks numerous languages.” And a third tweeted, “Anyone else notice Schlossberg’s website? Does he call ICE after he takes your money? #DespicableHumanBeing”
Edward Suazo, who posted the video on Facebook, wrote, “So my wife and her best friend just experience what America is becoming.”
“If he was so offended because the waiter was (speaking) in Spanish only because of a native person spoke to him in Spanish, why don’t he start waitering and he won’t have that issue and family stop getting Spanish nannies and stop getting Spanish people to farm and…,” Suazo wrote. “So please stop!! Because in the end you need them! But what you need to do is stop trying to control us! Slavery stopped a long time ago!!”
3. He Was Seen Among Trump-Supporters at a Protest in New York City Last Year, He Confronted a Man on the Street in 2016, Calling Him an ‘Ugly F*cking Foreigner’ & He Berated Hispanic Activists, 3 Other Videos Show
Schlossberg was among a group of Trump supporters who protested in Manhattan on May 25, 2017, according to A Plus editor and columnist Issac Saul, who covered the rally at the time and filmed video of Schlossberg and the group. You can see that video below:
In the video, Schlossberg can be seen telling Jewish people, “You are not a Jew,” chanting Milo’s name and swearing at them.
“My encounter with the man happened at an anti-Linda Sarsour rally on May 25, 2017. I reported on the rally for A Plus,” Saul wrote on Wednesday. “Sarsour was expected to deliver a commencement speech at City University of New York’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, and protesters had gathered on the street outside of my office building to object. Milo Yiannopoulos, Pamela Geller, and a host of other far-right conservative provocateurs were there.” Saul wrote on his website:
As Geller and Yiannopoulos’ speeches came to a close, the man wandered over to the opposite side of the street, where he and a few other people wearing Trump campaign apparel spotted Haredi Jews who were also there on the behalf of Neturei Karta International, and had come out to counter-protest in support of Palestine.
One of their lead rabbis, Dovid Feldman told me that he was there to defend Sarsour — who he said he knew — and spread his message of support for Palestine. But shortly after our interview began, he was interrupted by this man, who came over and berated him and a few other individuals who were with him. The man, who King identified as Schlossberg, insisted that Feldman was a “fake Jew,” inciting chants of “fake Jews” over and over again while giving them the middle finger.
In two videos I am publishing in full here for the first time, the man can be seen telling me that he’s been to Israel twice and is Jewish himself, all the while insisting Feldman, the well-known Haredi Jewish leader, was faking it. In a second video, he is again seen giving the group of Jews the middle finger, this time dancing and shaking his backside at them.
You can watch those videos at A Plus.
Schlossberg, a registered Republican, contributed $500 to the Trump campaign on May 4, 2016, according to Open Secrets.
Saul tweeted, “I wouldn’t soon forget him. Had that crazy look in his eyes. Was a die hard Trumper and pretty unreasonably upset there were Jews supporting Palestine around.”
Schlossberg was also caught on video in another incident in 2016 in which he confronted a stranger on a New York street and called him an “ugly f*cking foreigner.” The video was posted October 19, 2016, but was updated on May 16 when the latest Schlossberg video went viral. Willie Morris, who posted the video and had the interaction with Schlossberg, wrote on Twitter, “HOLY COW HOLY COW I THINK THIS IS THE SAME GUY WHO GOT IN MY FACE 2 YEARS AGO!” You can watch the video posted by Morris, who works in the tech industry, including with former NFL running back Curtis Martin, below:
Morris said in the video, “something happened to me yesterday that was absolutely crazy and I want to share it with you guys.” He said the incident was “angering and saddening.” He said he was walking on the street when a “lunatic” “assaulted” him and “cussed” at him. He was walking with another person when Schlossberg approached. Morris said he thought, based on “normal sidewalk etiquette,” that Schlossberg would shift his path a bit and walk around. But instead, Morris said, “he sees me, makes eye contact with me and makes a bee line towards me, holds up his briefcase in front of me and tries to shove me with it. Effectively he shoves himself backwards and then he just starts cussing at me.”
The video shows Schlossberg ask Morris, “what country are you from?” and saying, “I’m going to call the police,” as he holds his phone. “You don’t run into me. I’m a citizen here, you’re not. You’re an ugly f*cking foreigner. F*ck you.” Morris then walks away as Schlossberg takes photos of him.
Morris says in the video posted the day after the incident, “I was born in Massachusetts, I’m from the U.S.” Morris then holds him his passport and about the “ugly f*cking foreigner” comment jokes, “the first part is debatable, but the second part is not.”‘
A fourth video that emerged Wednesday shows Schlossberg confronting Hispanic demonstrators in New York City along with other Trump supporters. Details about when and where that video was recorded are unclear, but it was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday after the Fresh Kitchen video went viral:
Schlossberg was part of a group of pro-Trump counterprotesters at a rally held by the group Hispanos En Los Esclavos Unidos. The group posted the video on its Facebook page on Wednesday, warning its members to “be careful” of Schlossberg and calling him “violent.” The group is also planning a protest for Friday on Madison Avenue.
In the video, Schlossberg can be seen yelling at a man from Hispanos En Los Esclavos Unidos. He tells him, “you’re fat and ugly. That’s losing. Do I like I’m losing to you? I’m winning at life, you’re losing. I’m smart…” He’s cut off by someone criticizing Trump, and he responds, “and he’s in office and you’re not.”
Later in the argument, Schlossberg says that Trump is not a racist. “He didn’t call Mexican rapists. He said the people coming over here are rapists. And it’s true, you idiot. Some of them are.” He then kicks toward the man as the video ends and says, “What he said is true.”
Another video, obtained by Vice, shows him wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat while taunting protesters at a “100 Days of Failure” protest in Manhattan.
In that video he can be heard telling an anti-Trump protesters, “He’s insulting my president,” adding “How dare you question my president,” and saying, “You should just say ‘thank you for letting me in your motherf*cking country.'” He also screamed at them, “You should be getting down on your knees and thanking me for letting you come here.”
4. Schlossberg Went to Johns Hopkins for Undergrad & George Washington Law School Before Clerking for a New Jersey Judge
Schlossberg, 42, graduated from The Haverford School in suburban Philadelphia in 1994, according to his Linkedin profile. He then went to Johns Hopkins University, where he graduated in 1998 with an English degree. While there, he worked at the student newspaper, The News-Letter, as a staff writer, and studied abroad in Spain, he writes on Linkedin. In 2002, he graduated from the George Washington University Law School, where he worked at the legal clinic as a student.
Schlossberg clerked for New Jersey Superior Court Judge John Peterson, and then in 2003, started working as an associate attorney at The Law Offices of Michael Haskel in Mineola, New York. In 2005, he moved briefly to Ohrenstein & Brown in Manhattan and then on to Havkins Rosenfield Ritzert & Varriale, also in Manhattan, where he was an associate from 2005 to 2012.
“Aaron Schlossberg focuses on complex commercial and insurance coverage matters involving corporate clients, entrepreneurs and individual policyholders. Mr. Schlossberg drafts and negotiates high-level contract documents and appears frequently in state and federal courts throughout New York State,” his Linkedin page says. “Mr. Schlossberg’s approach has always involved creating advantages for his clients through utilization of a detailed knowledge of the law, extensive trial experience and a creative approach to dispute resolution. By excelling in these three areas — knowledge, experience and creativity — he is able to resolve even the most complex disputes.”
The page adds, “Ms. Schlossberg’s focus is on providing his clients with a resolution that is efficient and effective. If he can resolve a dispute without having to litigate, he will. Mr. Schlossberg has been able to generate positive results for clients in the past through various pre-dispute resolution techniques.”
One of Schlossberg’s former clients, Headline Talent Agency, spoke out on Instagram on Thursday, saying they had an issue with him and cut ties over it. “We, at Headline Talent Agency, are consistent champions of equality, and we strive to have our demeanor, our approach to the entertainment industry, and our incredibly diverse roster reflect that. Unfortunately, we are listed on the testimonials page of the now viral racist, Aaron Schlossberg. Please be advised that we have not done business with his company in years.”
The talent agency continued, “We parted ways with Aaron after a major disagreement, and we would never recommend him to anyone. We have requested that this testimonial be removed. HTA is the home for actors from many different backgrounds. We thrive to continuously give our clients the opportunity to tell stories and inspire the people watching, no matter who they are or where they came from.”
Ben Jordan, a partner at the agency, told Buzzfeed News, “He wasn’t someone we wanted to work with anymore,” Jordan said, and said the video of him is “despicable.”
Jordan added, “He’s not a good person to work with and wouldn’t recommend him to anyone.”
5. He Started His Own Law Office in 2012 & People Have Flooded the Firm’s Yelp & Facebook Pages With Negative Reviews
Schlossberg founded The Law Office of Aaron M. Schlossberg, Esq. P.L.L.C. in June 2012, according to his Linkedin profile. “The firm’s business and commercial law attorneys serve individuals, entrepreneurs and business owners in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties and beyond. The firm handles business law matters, including commercial litigation, contract disputes, partnership & shareholder disputes, talent/entertainment agreements, construction development disputes, and commercial & residential real estate contracts. Additionally, the firm handles insurance coverage litigation and provides outside counsel and pre-litigation dispute resolution,” he wrote.
On the firm’s website, he writes, “At The Law Office of Aaron M. Schlossberg, Esq., P.L.L.C., in New York City, we are committed to providing our clients with the highly effective results that they need. We serve individuals, entrepreneurs and business owners throughout New York, New Jersey and abroad. Our approach has always involved creating advantages for our clients through utilization of a detailed knowledge of the law, extensive trial experience and a creative approach to dispute resolution. By excelling in these three areas — knowledge, experience and creativity — we are able to resolve even the most complex disputes.”
Facebook, Yelp and Google pages for Schlossberg’s law office have been flooded by thousands of angry comments, leading to 1-star ratings. He has since deleted the Facebook page for the firm after it received more than 11,000 1-star reviews.
On his law firm’s website, Schlossberg’s bio reads, “Mr. Schlossberg is a published author and a seasoned presenter. He is fluent in Spanish, conversational in French and has basic knowledge of Mandarin Chinese and Hebrew. Mr. Schlossberg is a member of the New York State Bar Association and is admitted to the following courts: New York State, Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.”
Shaun King and others on social have called for the state bar to take action against Schlossberg. “I am asking the New York Bar Association (@nysba) to also look into your bigoted hate here & across NYC,” King tweeted. He said that seven of Schlossberg’s classmates from Johns Hopkins and George Washington contacted him and said “they aren’t surprised” by the video.
“You are now famous and trending in the United States. You will be known for your overt bigotry and harassment for a very long time. You should be disbarred. We have filed complaints with the NY Bar & NY Human Rights Commission,” King added. Stehen Gillers, a legal ethics professor at NYU, told Forward that Schlossberg won’t be disbarred.
“Mr. Schlossberg could be disciplined for this conduct but it will not lead to disbarment. A lawyer can be disciplined for conduct even if the conduct is unrelated to work for a client,” he said.”Factors a disciplinary committee will consider in deciding what if any discipline is warranted include extenuating circumstances and whether Mr. Schlossberg has prior discipline. If he does not, I think the most serious discipline he could face would be a private admonition if he has a clean record. That means the discipline will not become public.”
The New York State Bar Association tweeted at King and others, “We are aware. Mr. Schlossberg is not a current member of our voluntary association. We also do not handle attorney discipline. The court system does: https://t.co/R9AeqoKdIi.”
Schlossberg has no disciplinary record, according to the New York Post.
New York Congressman Adriano Espaillat tweeted Wednesday, “My office will be filing a formal legal grievance to the State Grievance Committee against #AaronSchlossberg due to his misconduct.”