Scottsdale gallery owner accused of mocking Native American performers

Feb 9, 2023, 11:53 AM
(Facebook Photo/City of Scottsdale - Government)...
(Facebook Photo/City of Scottsdale - Government)
(Facebook Photo/City of Scottsdale - Government)

PHOENIX — The owner of a Scottsdale gallery that sells Native American jewelry and art prompted a police investigation this week after he was caught on video mocking Native performers.

Three counts of disorderly conduct, a class 1 misdemeanor, have been submitted against Gilbert Ortega, the Scottsdale Police Department said in a press release Thursday.

“The city of Scottsdale prides itself as a welcoming community and condemns this individual’s racist comments – they do not represent our community,” the release says.

The incident occurred around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. Police said the alleged offenses don’t meet the definition of a hate crime.

Videos circulating online shows Ortega outside the Gilbert Ortega Native American Galleries in Old Town Scottsdale.

In an Instagram post that includes the video, self-described “Alter-Native” rock group Blackbird said it was being filmed by ESPN when the incident occurred. The network is holding its Main Street Tailgate in Old Town ahead of the Super Bowl.

Ortega can be seen mocking the performance, using a profane slur and proclaiming “MAGA country.”

Scottsdale City Councilwoman Tammy Caputi took to social media to condemn Ortega, whose late father founded the business.

“There is no place for hatred and intolerance, and I condemn the behavior of Gilbert Ortega Jr.,” she said in a tweet Thursday. “I offer my full support to the victims of this act of discrimination. One bad actor does not represent Scottsdale.”

The gallery’s Yelp page was flooded with one-star reviews after the video was circulated, prompting the review site to temporarily disable posting on the page.

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Scottsdale gallery owner accused of mocking Native American performers