A lawyers advocacy group in New York took deliberate steps on Thursday to distance itself from an attorney whose racist outburst at a food shop in Manhattan was filmed and went viral this week. Aaron Schlossberg, a White man whose angry face has since been etched across social media, cursed out a couple of store employees because they were, gasp, speaking Spanish to each other. At one point, he threatened to call ICE, the federal agency in charge of enforcing immigration crimes.
“Your staff are speaking Spanish to customers, when they should be speaking English,” an incredulous Schlossberg exclaimed at the Fresh Kitchen location. “It’s America!”
Soon after initial reports of the tirade were published Wednesday, the sleuthing internet outed Schlossberg as a lawyer who works near to where his racist meltdown was filmed. Angry reactions included trashing Schlossberg’s Yelp page and launching a petition to get him disbarred.
While it was unclear how those two efforts would play out, what was plain to see was that Schlossberg’s website plainly stated he was “a member of the New York State Bar Association.” But a phone call proved that to be resoundingly untrue.
“Mr. Schlossberg is not a member of the New York State Bar Association,” Dan Weiller, the group’s managing director of marketing and communications, declared to NewsOne in no uncertain terms during a phone call Thursday morning.
There were a few other head-scratchers on that web page, such as the apparent need he felt to include how he was fluent in Spanish, an ironic claim, at best, since he also felt compelled to lash out at two of his fellow fluent Spanish speakers at the shop.
One thing that has not been surprising, though, was finding out Schlossberg has a history of similarly racist outbursts in public.
Efforts to get Schlossberg disbarred may be in vain, however.
The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) referred NewsOne to the New York State Unified Court System and the Office of Court Administration, which, according to NYSBA’s website, handles “ethics and disciplinary matters” concerning lawyers. But the New York State Unified Court System doesn’t actually “oversee attorney disciplinary matters” at all, its director of public information told NewsOne.
“Each Appellate Division in New York State – there are 4 – has an attorney grievance committee where a complaint can be made,” Lucian Chalfen wrote in an email Thursday. “Complaints are confidential unless or until a finding is made by the committee to sanction or further reprimand the individual.”
The American Bar Association also said it does not regulate lawyers and instead only provide model rules for state licensing agencies to adopt.
A call to the Attorney Grievances Committee covering lawyers in Manhattan led to a voicemail that was not accepting voicemail messages, making it unclear whether there were any existing or past complaints filed against Schlossberg. But if his past and latest racist outburst were any indication, there probably has been at least one grievance against him.