The New York lawyer who sparked outrage and protests last week when a video went viral of him berating customers and workers for speaking Spanish in a Manhattan restaurant issued an apology today, saying, "I am not racist."
"To the people I insulted, I apologize," Aaron Schlossberg, 42, said in the mea culpa. "Seeing myself online opened my eyes -- the manner in which I expressed myself is unacceptable and is not the person I am."
In the video, which was filmed a week ago today at a Fresh Kitchen restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, Schlossberg is seen yelling customers who were speaking Spanish to a worker at the eatery.
“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,” Schlossberg, referring to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is heard yelling on the video.
"I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to be here," he continues. "The least they can do is speak English."
But now Schlossberg says, "I see my words and action hurt people, and for that I am deeply sorry," according to the statement.
"While people should be able to express themselves freely, they should do so calmly and respectfully," he said. "What the video did not convey is the real me. I am not a racist."
He said one of the reasons he moved to New York is because of its "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," he said. "Again my sincerest apologies to anyone and everyone I hurt."
His apology comes just days after U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-New York, and Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President, sent a formal complaint to the state committee that disciplines lawyers asking that Schlossberg be stripped of his license to practice law in New York for the disparaging remarks.
Several hundred people protested in front of his Manhattan apartment on Friday after organizers raised more than $1,000 in online GoFundMe page to send a Mariachi band to the demonstration.