By Christina Carrega
A Bedford-Stuyvesant couple have called for the shutdown of a local butcher shop after an employee called one of them a “mono” — Spanish for monkey — to his face.
“You cannot go around and disrespect the community like this. Without the community, his business would not exist,” said Venessa Kane, whose husband Demba Kane was addressed by a butcher inside Sagal Meat Market on Jan. 2 with a racial slur.
Demba Kane, 50, is a regular customer at the market on Broadway in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and the manager and other employees are aware he is fluent in Spanish. On that particular day, the usual workers were not present. When Demba Kane, who is African-American, went to pick up his order, the employee said “aquí, mono” — “here, monkey” in Spanish.
“My husband asked ‘Why are you calling me a monkey? Why are you treating me like that?’” said Venessa Kane, 52 a retired preschool teacher.
Demba Kane refused to leave the business until he could speak to the manager.
The employees refused to take his contact information and demanded that the couple leave. Venessa Kane said her husband called 911, but since no physical altercation occurred, the officers advised them to file a complaint with 311 and the Better Business Bureau.
A spokesperson from the NYPD did not have a record of a 911 call to the business, but Venessa Kane wrote down the badge number of the officer from the 81st Precinct who assisted them.
“My husband hasn’t been able to sleep at night, he’s very upset. This has never happened to him before … We want to do something about this,” Venessa Kane told the Eagle.
The Kanes went back to the shop the next day to speak to the manager or leave their contact information for the owner. They recorded the conversation with their cellphone.
The workers seen on the five-minute video posted on the couple’s Facebook business page grinned when Demba Kane expressed his concerns. They said they did not their boss’ number.
Since the couple posted the video on Facebook, neighbors have also shared their bad experiences at the meat market in the comments.
“This is consistent behavior. This time it wasn’t a curse-out battle, normally there is a back and forth,” Venessa Kane said. “This didn’t start from an argument or any disagreement, he just handed my husband the meat and said ‘here, monkey.’ It makes no sense.”.
Sagal Fernandez also left a comment on the video. Fernandez who identified himself as the owner of the meat market franchise, which has 19 locations in Brooklyn and the Bronx. However, the state Division of Corporations lists Lenin Sanchez as the CEO and principal executive officer of Sagal Meat Market Inc.
“We have ZERO tolerance for this type of behavior. There are no words to express our deepest apologies and we regret not being able to handle the situation immediately. We don’t completely understand why the manager on site or any of the employees refused to give Mr. and Mrs. Kane the owners’ contact information,” Fernandez wrote on Jan. 9. “Regrettably, the manager on site and employees did not communicate to us the owners what had happened. Having said that, we do take responsibility for not becoming more involved with our customers and staying aware of what is happening in the day to day interactions in our store.”
As of Friday, the lengthy post had been deleted, and the Kanes have reached out to the National Action Network (NAN) for help.
“We don’t want any apology. We want cultural diversity training to all your employees. We will be out here every day until you give us respect,” said Rev. Kevin McCall, the national crisis director for NAN.
Rev. McCall is expected to lead daily protests at 3 p.m. in front of the 1274 Broadway market until the actual owner agrees to meet with the family.