“We are not racist”: inside a struggling Parsippany towing company

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Content Disclaimer: This article includes profanity and racist comments.


PARSIPPANY, NJ – It’s been two weeks since a social media video showed an Ajaco Towing construction worker using a racial slur in reference to a black customer. Since then, the company has faced suspended and abandoned contracts, death threats and high tensions, according to employees.

After the video was posted on social media, the township of Parsippany terminated its contract with Ajaco Towing and condemned the behavior.

“Parsippany is a community rich in diverse cultural identities and heritages,” a township statement said on Aug. 18. “We are guided by our openness and American diversity. We do not tolerate hateful behavior and we will not allow Parsippany Township to do business with companies that tolerate this type of behavior.”

Read more: Township of Parsippany, PD separated from Ajaco towing after incident

New Jersey State Police and the City of Caldwell have also suspended relations with Ajaco and are investigating, a company spokesperson told Patch last week. Those working in the Edwards Road building say they have received death threats since the incident.

Company spokesman Paul Gerard-Argen said Ajaco does not tolerate the behavior of the video. But he says Parsippany Township followed inappropriate protocol when it severed ties with them.

He also says the person in the video – Vincent Cleffi – does not work for Ajaco Towing but is part of the real estate holding company that owns the property. His brother, Jason Cleffi, owns Ajaco Towing.

“The only one who has the power to do anything is the police chief,” Gérard-Argen said. “And the police chief should have sent us a certified letter and given us 30 days to respond. But what they (the township) do – they played the role of judge, jury and executioner.”

Parsippany Public Information Officer Peter Koerella told Patch the following: “Parsippany-Troy Hills Township and Parsippany Police Department do not approve of the language heard in the video. have no further comments at this time. “

In the video, Vincent Cleffi stood in front of the entrance to the building while the client films from the parking lot. A policeman and two others stood in front of Vincent Cleffi as he said “I’m going to drop this mother” and “Go ahead, play the race card”.

As Cleffi walks inside, the client filming says, “Woah, he called me a n —- r.”

Cleffi admitted to Patch that he used racial insult, but said the media distorted his actions.

“You want accounts? I didn’t call this man n —- r, like the media say,” he said. “He walked into my building, and it wasn’t in front of him. It was in the office. Responsible? 100 percent. Yes, I said it. But he has more rights than me to this. stadium. I will be responsible for everything I say. “

Employees say the fuller context of the August 16 events tells a different story.

After the client’s vehicle was towed, he drove to the building that morning, approximately six hours before the recorded incident. Security footage shows the man at the counter. The footage has no sound, but Jason Cleffi claims the client said he had no money.

Vincent Cleffi said the man gave him the keys and told him to sort out his payment issues before returning.

Later in the day, the customer returns. Footage from the parking lot shows an argument taking place outside. Employees claim that the customer made threats against them.

While showing the footage to Patch, the company got a call.

“You are about to go bankrupt,” the person said over the phone. ” Guess what ? Your racist little towing business is going down.

Ajaco Towing employees said they have received such calls every day since the recorded incident.

“We are not racist.… We do not tolerate hateful behavior,” said Gerard-Argen. “We have a diverse workforce. We deal with diverse clients. When your car breaks down, it’s usually not someone who has a brand new Lexus. We deal with all types of people. “

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