NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)– A Staten Island man is under fire after he was caught on camera ripping down blue ribbons that were hung from trees and utility poles as a sign of support for NYPD officers.
The man who shot the video Tuesday evening told CBS2’s Tony Aiello he was upset by the ribbon ripping on Victory Boulevard in Castleton Corners.
The driver who confronted the man pulling down the ribbons posted the video on social media. It quickly went viral.
“All lives are not being persecuted right now! Black lives are!” the man said to the driver filming.
“For someone to go do this, it’s very disturbing to see how people are today,” Staten Island resident Robyn Massaro said.
“I think it’s disgusting. It’s a disgrace,” Staten Island resident Georgia Panagiotopoulos said.
Within no time at all, the angry young man was being named and shamed.
“People immediately recognized him and immediately put his name out on Facebook, and that’s all it took,” Staten Island resident Rita DiGennaro said.
The man on the video was identified as Stephen Varvaro and he told the Staten Island Advance that, “I know what I did was wrong. It was disrespectful.”
Varvaro said he’s getting threats and that he “doesn’t feel safe on the island anymore.”
Even the salon where he used to work is paying a price with people posting that it’s “time to boycott this place” on the company’s Facebook page.
There has been no comment from the salon, which has disavowed Varvaro’s actions, and is offering a discount to law enforcement to show its appreciation.
“I had to kick it into mommy gear and calm everybody down,” Carmen Shouldis, founder of the Blue Ribbons Campaign, told CBS2.
Shouldis said enough is enough with the threats and anger. She started the campaign after the murder of police officers in Texas and Louisiana. She feels the ribbon ripping is upsetting, but she does not condone the harsh backlash against Varvaro.
“That’s the sentiment across the country right now. People are very quick to judge and lash out at other people that they don’t even know,” she said. “Leave him alone. I don’t spread hate. I’m not one to spread violence.”
CBS2 reached out to Varvaro but was unable to contact him.