A New York City man who was caught on camera ripping down blue ribbons hung from trees in support of NYPD officers has admitted his actions were "wrong" and "disrespectful" after an intense backlash from the community.
“All lives are not being persecuted right now! Black lives are!" Stephen Varvaro of Staten Island said as he tore down blue ribbons from trees and utility poles while shouting at the man who stopped to record the incident Tuesday, WCBS-TV reported.
Once the video was online, it didn't take long for others to recognize him. What followed was a public shaming so severe that even Varvaro's former employer, Ted & Co Salon, wasn't off limits. The Staten Island Advance reported that it's been three years since Varvarro has worked at the salon, but that didn't stop social media users from going on the business' Facebook page, calling on customers to boycott.
In a frantic effort to calm critics, the salon started offering a discount to law enforcement officers. The salon didn't release a public statement, but WCBS-TV reported it has disavowed Varvarro's actions.
"I think it’s disgusting. It’s a disgrace,” Georgia Panagiotopoulos, who lives on Staten Island, said of the stunt. Another Staten Island resident, Robyn Massaro, called the move "very disturbing." The backlash eventually became so intense that Varvarro feared for his safety.
"I'm getting threats about it, and I don't feel safe on the island anymore," Varvarro told the Advance.
Varvarro then suggested he may have overreacted when he saw the blue ribbons: "What I thought they meant was to hell with Black Lives Matter. I assumed. I was hasty. I acted in anger. I didn't see blue when I saw the blue ribbons. I saw red, and I was angry and I lost control."
Varvarro, who has cops in his own family, said he now realizes the blue ribbons are "in support of families with police officers in them."
“I know what I did was wrong," Varvarro said. "Tearing the ribbons down was the wrong thing to do. It was disrespectful."
(H/T: Law Newz)
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