A New York City butcher is being investigated for a recent hate crime in which he allegedly handed an African American delivery driver a noose. New York Post reports that Joe Ottomanelli, of The Ottomanelli Bros. Butcher Shoppe, passed the yellow rope to driver Victor Sheppard.
Sheppard told Daily News that 60-year-old Ottomanelli told him, “If you ever have any stress, just put it around your neck and pull it. I could even help you with it.”
The delivery driver said he was frightened by the situation.
“I started shaking,” Sheppard said in a statement to Daily News. “He was laughing. I don’t know what kind of joke that is.”
When questioned about the incident, Ottomanelli told Daily News that the gesture was a joke.
“We were just fooling around,” he said.
Daily News reports that the Hate Crimes Task Force is handling the investigation. According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, there are 858, 710 delivery drivers in the United States. These jobs are becoming more common with a rise in demand for services like overnight or two-day delivery, which may cost 50% or more than normal delivery. Even if these services are making the delivery industry more lucrative, consumers cannot cover the cost of a gesture like this.
This New York City incident is just one item on the recent list of racially-motivated hate crimes. The FBI is investigating an incident at American University in which bananas were found hanging from nooses on campus, The New York Times reports. According to the report, the bananas had “AKA FREE” written on them, referring to a majority-black sorority, and “HARAMBE BAIT,” referring to the gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo last year when a child tumbled into its habitat.
The New York Times reports that university president Neil Karwin wrote in a letter to the campus community that he felt “deep disappointment and frustration.”
“We will confront racist expressions with forceful condemnation and respond to discrimination with every tool at our disposal,” he wrote in the letter.
Sydney Jones, head of the American University N.A.A.C.P. chapter told The New York Times that the campus community is not as mobilized as they should be surrounding these issues.
“There’s a lack of genuine passion about racial issues that happen on campus,” she said. “A hate crime is something extremely serious.”