Wandering Dago owners in federal court for freedom of speech lawsuit

ALBANY, N.Y. – A freedom of speech lawsuit was presented in Federal Court in Albany on Thursday, involving the Wandering Dago food truck, the Office of General Services and New York Racing Association.

Earlier this year, the food truck was denied a permit to operate at the Empire State Plaza for its summer outdoor lunch program overseen by OGS. Officials said the name of the truck, the Wandering Dago, is offensive.

“Dago” is used as a derogatory reference to individuals of Italian or Spanish descent. But, the food truck owners say the name was not created to be offensive, rather explain how they do business. Owner Brandon Snooks tells NEWS10 ABC they wander and make money as “the day goes.”

The food truck had permission to operate at the Saratoga Race Track but was then asked to leave after the first day of racing because they also said the name is offensive.

Both OGS and NYRA also argued the properties are non-public forum which
allows them to make limited decisions whether or not to have the food
truck on their properties.

The Wandering Dago's attorney, George Carpinello says the organizations have every right to make their decisions. But he says officials did not base their decisions off of certain guidelines, rather it was a private decision made by a state official.

George Carpinello, the Wandering Dago's attorney, told NEWS10 ABC, “They were removed from the site for one reason and it's because one senior official told them to get out. And now after I asked for this evidence, he hands it to the judge as evidence and it's everything we thought.”

The judge handling this case has reserved her decision. The owners of the food truck hope to be up and running next week at the Empire State Plaza.

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