A New Jersey business is facing fierce backlash after displaying what many in the community are saying it a racist sign in the store’s window.
Dave Feinberg, the owner of knife shop Cutter’s Edge in Clifton, said he’s been getting angry messages from people calling him out ever since he put up a sign that reads “Speak English or Pay $10 Extra” three weeks ago.
One voicemail left for the business owner was: “Hi.. just letting you know you’re a racist.”
Feinberg said the whole thing started after a frustrating encounter with a Spanish-speaking customer.
“I had a guy that didn’t speak English, it was about that simple. For a quick $10 job, it took me 10 mins to talk to this guy,” said Feinberg. “I got other things. I got other customers.”
But following the strong community and social media backlash, Feinberg replaced the sign – sort of. A new sign was put up, reading "Sorry about the speak English sign Please except our hart felt (sic) sadness it may have caused."
“The backlash bothers me more than anything else,” Feinberg said. “I stand behind the idea that in my country, like in any other country, when you go to Rome you gotta do as the Romans do.”
Workers at a neighboring barbershop say they won’t be visiting the store, saying “he’s completely wrong” to display that kind of sign.
Rosemary Pino, Clifton’s only minority council member, blasted Feinberg’s stance in the heavily diverse city.
“Our slogan is 'the city that cares,' and we have to ensure we don't just talk the talk but that we walk the walk,” said Pino. “Messages like that from our business owners is just not the right thing to do."
But it’s not a universal opinion. Hector Lora, the mayor of neighboring Passaic – a heavily Hispanic city – agrees with Feinberg that people should speak English. Lora’s own parents were immigrants who came to America as non-English speakers.
“I believe everyone should understand and speak English in America, and there is a process,” Lora said. The mayor said he doesn’t fully agree with Feinberg’s sign, but denounced what he called cancel culture against the business owner’s freedom of speech.
“What I get concerned is the escalation. We’ll stand in front of a business and shut it down because I didn’t like his sign,” said Lora.