A famed local NYC butcher in the West Village area is under investigation for allegedly committing a hate crime. Thursday, police sources said he gave a black man a noose, along with a threatening note.
Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market is a local icon on Manhattan’s Bleecker Street. Its owner, Joe Ottomanelli has been accused of fashioning a noose out of yellow rope.
Sources say he gave the noose to a black delivery driver named Victor Sheppard. It came with a note with a very disturbing, and extremely racist message on it.
36-year-old Sheppard says the store owner’s note told him that the noose was basically a “stress reliever” he should use in time of need. He even instructed him on how to use the noose, and offered to assist him with using it as well. The racist note said:
“If you ever have any stress, just put it around your neck and pull it. I could even help you with it.”
Joe Ottomanelli alleged gave the “gift” to the black delivery driver on Tuesday morning. Victor Sheppard was terrified and literally frozen in time.
“I started shaking,” he told the Daily News. “He was laughing. I don’t know what kind of joke that is.”
The delivery man made a beeline to the 6th Precinct stationhouse, where he filed a report and handed over the noose, sources told the Daily News.
The Hate Crimes Task Force has launched an investigation into the incident.
Reached Thursday at his uber-popular meat mecca, Ottomanelli insisted he has no beef with Sheppard.
“We were just fooling around,” Ottomanelli, 58, told The News.
Ottomanelli said he never thought that what he considered a joke would be taken as a racial attack.
“You kidding me? We work with black people,” Ottomanelli said. “There’s other black drivers that come here. No, never. … We weren’t raised that way.”
Ottomanelli said he wanted to apologize to Sheppard and give him a hug — but the delivery man sounded in no mood to forgive.
“Mentally and emotionally he’s really hurt me. I felt very endangered, just doing my job,” Sheppard said.
“This is a man who’s 58-plus. He really thinks handing a noose to a black man is sending a playful message?”
Sheppard has been delivering meat to the century-old butcher for the past eight months.
He said Ottomanelli has made racially insensitive comments in the past, but the delivery man just brushed them off.
“He once said, ‘Did you know that just a few years ago black people couldn’t ride in the front of the bus?’ ” Sheppard said.
Rev. Kevin McCall, the national crisis director of the National Action Network, said he plans to call for a boycott of the beloved butcher shop.
“In 2017 you would never think someone would hand someone a noose,” McCall said.
Ottomanelli worker Paul Durando said Sheppard didn’t seem offended when he left the store that day.
“I can’t understand it. He walked out of here hysterically laughing,” Durando said. “We love this guy.”
Other staffers also defended Ottomanelli and pointed out the shop employs a black man who’s worked there for 13 years.
Customer Stephen Werther, 57, said he was surprised to learn of the controversy.
“The idea that someone would think that they did something aggressive, or threatening, is completely out of character,” Werther said. “No one will ever have a bad thing to say about these guys.”
Sheppard, for his part, vowed to never return to Ottomanelli’s shop. “I will never deliver there again,” he said.