Because a butcher at West Village institution Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market allegedly handed black delivery man Victor Sheppard a noose in April, Sheppard’s former employee has cut ties with the butcher shop. Bronx meat distributor Mosner Family Brands issued a statement announcing it had ended the relationship and condemned the act.
The action comes after Mosner fired Sheppard (which the company claims he “gave up his position for failing to show up to work three times,” and that Mosner is still open to giving Mr. Sheppard his position back, albeit on a different route.) Initially, Mosner offered Sheppard counseling and disability leave, but Sheppard’s lawyer Wylie Stecklow said at the time that Sheppard “could not return to that environment” where Ottomanelli was a customer.
Mosner — which cites NYC restaurants like Keens Steakhouse, ABC Kitchen, Dig Inn, and Hanoi House as customers — maintains it had originally wanted to wait until after the legal fallout to make a decision, but it looks like public opinion rushed the process.
Now, Stecklow calls it “comforting” that Mosner has cut ties with Ottomanelli, but tells Eater, “This was never about his employer. This is about the New York District Attorney’s office expending the appropriate resources to convict Ottomanelli of this hate crime. This is about New York City battling the continuing rise of race-based hatred in our great country.”
Hate crimes involving nooses have been on the rise, with the Times reporting that there has been “a series of reports this year involving nooses — especially in the nation’s capital — that point to the return of the hangman’s rope as a potent expression of racial animus.”
When butcher Joe Ottomanelli reportedly handed Sheppard a noose back in April, he allegedly said, “If you ever have any stress, just put it around your neck and pull it. I could even help you with it.” Ottomanelli did not deny the incident, but called it a joke.
Sheppard has since been receiving counseling separate from Mosner’s offer, and Stecklow says he has not filed or prepared a lawsuit, despite Ottomanelli’s lawyer telling the News, “There’s no reason for this man to quit his job besides the reason that suing is easier than working.”
Ottomanelli has been charged with a hate crime and will appear in court on September 19.