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A black deliveryman claimed he has lived in fear ever since a butcher allegedly handed him a noose when he made a delivery to the butcher’s shop.
Victor Sheppard leveled the accusations against the West Village butcher last Tuesday, reports the New York Post. Sheppard claims the event still traumatizes him.
“I can’t sleep, I’m paranoid, worried about other extremists coming after me because of what somebody started,” Sheppard said to people gathered at the National Action Network’s Harlem headquarters Saturday.
New York police launched an investigation into Joe Ottomanelli with The Ottomanelli Bros. Butcher Shoppe after Sheppard’s accusations. Ottomanelli reportedly gave him a noose when Sheppard came to make a delivery, saying “Here’s your present” and “You can use it when you’re stressed and need to end it all.”
Sheppard maintained that other employees at the shop laughed when Ottomanelli handed him the noose.
“They just laughed at me,…after they gave me the noose they was just laughing at me and I felt threatened,” Sheppard went on. “I don’t want to get too much into that but, it’s been horrible. It’s been a horrible experience.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, the founder of the National Action Network, was quick to compare the claims to the actions of a white supremacist who killed a New York black man.
“This Saturday you got the brother here, that got a noose as a gift,” Sharpton said. “It’s time for us to get together and stand up and fight back. We are not going backwards.”
Ottomanelli said he gave it to Sheppard as a joke. He told the New York Daily News that he didn’t mean it in a racist way.
Tony Salihaj, the owner of Bleeker Street Pizza and friend of Ottomanelli, called the accusations “bullshit.” He maintained that they were being blown out of proportion.
“He probably joked and someone took it the wrong way,” Salihaj said. “I think it’s bullshit.”