On Wednesday, the writer and activist Shaun King posted a video on Twitter showing a white man at a Manhattan restaurant berating employees and threatening to report them to immigration officials for the crime of speaking Spanish in public.
In the video, the so-far-unidentified man points to people working behind the counter at the restaurant. “Every person I listen to—he spoke it, he spoke it, she’s speaking it,” he says. “It’s America. They should be speaking English, not Spanish.”
“Yeah, it is America!” an onlooker responds.
“He’s very ignorant,” someone else off-camera says.
“I will be following up, and my guess is, they’re not documented, so my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country,” the man continues, pointing at the restaurant workers again. “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 could do—the least they could do is speak English.”
The man then turns to the person recording him on their phone.
“Honey, I’m calling ICE!” the man says into the camera. “Maybe you shouldn’t eat that sandwich today. Take a break from the food.”
“Maybe you should get hit by a car, you piece of shit,” someone responds.
King and other eagle-eyed Twitter users noticed the man in the video looks a lot like the same person who appeared in videos from a protest last year targeting Muslim activist Linda Sarsour. In the video, the man repeatedly points and yells, “You are not a Jew!” at someone, saying that he is Jewish and has visited Israel twice.
Here are some assumptions I’m willing to make about this man: he’s definitely into crypto. He probably lives in Murray Hill, and doesn’t understand why it gets such a bad rap. On the weekends, after CrossFit, he’ll meet his friends in Williamsburg for brunch, and make a remark about how glad he is that Brooklyn isn’t so sketchy anymore. You’ll see him out at a bar with friends, or checking his phone while on a date, or by himself. You’ll see him on Tinder or Grindr, where he gives not-so-subtle cues about the type of person he’s trying to meet. He never thanks his Uber driver. He answers the phone with, “Talk to me.” He is everywhere, and you can’t escape him.
If anything, this man is a good reminder that New York City, while more diverse than much of the country, is far from immune to bigotry. In situations like this, it’s up to New Yorkers—and white New Yorkers specifically—to hold their fellow residents accountable.