A lawyer representing a woman who was part of a group of Black female tourists who allegedly physically attacked an Asian restaurant hostess in New York City has claimed the employee instigated the physical altercation by using a racial slur.
The initial report: The scuffle broke out in the Upper West Side after the Asian hostess asked the three diners from Texas to show proof of vaccination before entering Carmine’s Italian restaurant in Upper West Side on Thursday, Sept. 16, NBC News New York reported.
- Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 44, her 21-year-old niece Tyonnie Keshay Rankin — both from Humble, Texas — and 49-year-old assistant Sally Rechelle Lewis of Houston presented their vaccination card to the hostess when they entered the restaurant.
- Moments later, three of Rankin’s male companions arrived at the restaurant, but only one was allowed to enter after two of the men failed to show ID that matched their vaccination cards. A scuffle then broke out between the women and the hostess after the women learned the men were denied entry. The hostess was allegedly punched and slapped in addition to having her necklace torn off her neck.
- Carmine’s staff and other bystanders stepped in to help physically separate the women, and the female tourists were later taken to the police station. In a statement, the restaurant said it was a “shocking and tragic situation when one of our valued employees is assaulted for doing their job — as required by city policies — and trying to make a living.”
- Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer said what happened was “completely unacceptable,” adding in another tweet, “There’s no place for this kind of violence to be perpetrated against our essential workers.”
- New York reportedly became the first major U.S. city to require vaccination proof for indoor dining, gyms, concerts and performances, U.S. News reported in August. Under the new mandate, customers 12 years and older must present vaccination proof before entering any establishments.
New alleged details: Justin Moore, a representative for Kaeita Rankin — a businesswoman with a doctorate in education — claimed in an interview with the New York Times on Saturday that the 24-year-old Asian hostess used the N-word during her confrontation with Rankin’s party.
- Moore alleged that after Rankin’s group joined the men who were denied entry outside, the hostess was condescending and that she suggested to Rankin’s party’s that their vaccination cards were fake. He also alleges she used derogatory comments and the N-word during the argument outside of the restaurant before telling Moore’s client, “Yeah, you guys can leave my restaurant,” and eventually lunging at them. He further said that the hostess sustained her injuries from being restrained by her coworkers and not from the group of women, New York Daily News reported.
- Hawk Newsome, the co-founder and chairman of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, said they plan to organize a protest outside Carmine’s on Monday and alleged, “Restaurants are using vaccine mandates to enforce their racist beliefs and excluding Black patrons.”
- The three women were reportedly charged with assault and criminal mischief following the incident. They are expected to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court on Oct. 1.
Not true: In a statement to New York Daily News, Carmine’s lawyer, Carolyn Richmond, denied all the allegations and said the claim of racial profiling was a “complete fabrication, disingenuous and outright irresponsible.”
- “The idea that anyone would become violent as an employee performs this necessary function is anathema to New York, the hospitality industry and New Yorkers in general,” Richmond told the New York Times in a different statement. “As all of the women showed proof of vaccination they were all permitted to enter and were in fact seated inside.”