Smoothie store workers speak out after racist Merrill Lynch exec attack

‘I’ve seen [racism] on social media, but to experience it first hand, like, I just felt disrespected’

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Tuesday 25 January 2022 15:49
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'He threatened to kill us multiple times': Smoothie store worker speaks out after racist attack

Days after a Merrill Lynch financial adviser was arrested after being caught on camera for a racist attack against the staff of a smoothie store in Connecticut, an employee said she was scared when the man lost his temper.

James Iannazzo, 48, was seen hurling racist abuse and throwing a drink at the employees of a Robeks smoothie shop.

Part-time employee Gianna Miranda, whom he could be heard calling a “f****** immigrant loser” said the situation “was kind of scary”.

“I am not going to lie because I’m like I don’t know his intention or what he was going to do,” the 18-year-old told television station WFSB.

“I’ve seen [racism] on social media, but to experience it first hand, like, I just felt disrespected,” she told Channel 12.

Mr Iannazzo had ordered a drink from the smoothie shop outlet for his son, who has a peanut allergy. He ordered the smoothie without peanut butter but did not mention his son’s allergy, according to the Fairfield police department.

After Mr Iannazzo’s son suffered an allergic reaction and was “transported to an area hospital”, he returned to the shop.

His bigoted tirade was recorded in a video that was shared on TikTok, collecting 16 million views before it was taken down on Sunday.

“He started to call her racial slurs. He threatened to kill us multiple times,” said Charlie Hill, a high school student, who recorded the video.

“I understand and we are sorry on behalf of Robeks for how the smoothie was made, but it gives you absolutely no right to act out like that,” she added.

Mr Iannazoo can be seen repeatedly demanding to know who made the drink. When the three employees present at the store said they weren’t sure and directed him to call the franchise’s corporate office with the complaint, the man started shouting abuses.

“Shut the f*** up! Stupid f****** idiot. You’re a f***** idiot. I want the f***** number. Shut up,” he can be heard yelling, while demanding to know the number of the corporate office.

The man then can be seen throwing a drink at Ms Miranda, hitting her right shoulder, after which he tried to breach the employee-only entrance as staff called the police.

He was repeatedly asked to leave the shop, but, he allegedly continued to insult the employees. He left the shop prior to the police’s arrival but later turned himself in, authorities said.

Mr Iannazzo was arrested on charges of intimidation based on bias, breach of peace and criminal trespass. Following his arrest, he was fired from his position at Merrill Lynch, where he had been working for the past 26 years.

He is scheduled to appear in court on 7 February.

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