A video posted to Facebook on Tuesday showed a man ranting in a Midtown restaurant, threatening to call federal immigration agents on workers and complaining that they were speaking Spanish.
"Your staff is speaking to customers in Spanish when they should be speaking English," the man said in the video.
In the now-viral rant, a man believed to be a Midtown commercial attorney was caught berating employees and customers for speaking Spanish at Fresh Kitchen on Madison Ave. and 39 St. during lunch Tuesday.
"My instinct is they're not documented. So my next call is to ICE to have them kicked out of my country," the man said in the video. "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."
Emily Serrano, the woman who filmed the erratic encounter, said she told the man he was ignorant for telling her to stop speaking Spanish.
"And he told me, 'No, I'm way smarter than you are,'" Serrano said in a Skype interview in Spanish. "So I told him, 'Yes, you may be very book smart, but you're still ignorant.'"
New Yorkers reacted to the notorious clip with disdain. "What has America become? It is a country of immigrants, and we are all essentially immigrants," one woman said.
"I think it's pretty messed up," New Yorker Andrew Rathauf said. "He just doesn't have a regard for other people."
Many said they were shocked but not surprised by the bigoted outburst, given political rhetoric coming from the nation's chief executive.
"The way the current president is making people think, he's shifting their mind in a certain direction," Rathauf said.
At a roundtable on "sanctuary cities" on Wednesday, President Trump disparaged undocumented immigrants deported for criminal activity:
"We're taking people out of the country — you wouldn't believe how bad these people are," Trump said. "These aren't people; these are animals."
Karen Lucero, an employee at Fresh Kitchen, said that type of language emboldens racism. She said she, sadly, expects discrimination to be more commonplace, even in a diverse city like New York.
"Even the president is talking about Spanish people that way, so how can we expect respect from other people if the president is doing it?" Lucero said.
Some New Yorkers gave the man some benefit of the doubt. "All I'm saying is you can't judge a person by five seconds on a tape," Dominick Fazzari said. "We all have five seconds where we are not proud of what we've done."
Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, appearing to weigh in on the video, focused on the city's strength in diversity:
The man in the video has been identified on Twitter, but NY1 has not been able to independently confirm that the attorney named is indeed the man in the video.
Image above via Edward Suazo on Facebook.