As unfortunate as it is, harassment and violence fueled by racism and misogyny has only become more pronounced since Donald Trump was elected president. A recent incident in a Manhattan diner saw an upset Trump supporter harassing two Asian-American women which escalated into the man trapping the women in the diner and eventually pepper spraying a Latino man in the face.
Sally Wen Mao, 29, and her friend, Jen (she declined to provide her last name for professional reasons), were eating at the Lower East Side Coffee Shop on 14th Street at 1:30 a.m. when a loud and upset man, 56-year-old Frank Camino, walked in and sat in the booth behind them.
Camino began loudly complaining about how “disgusting and racist” the cast of the broadway musical “Hamilton: An American Musical” was to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence who was sitting in the audience. At the end of that show, the cast had relayed their concerns and hopes that Pence and Trump would “uphold American values” for all Americans — a move that many Trump supporters have deemed as harassment.
Camino was reportedly complaining to the staff at the diner when he moved the subject to “so-called minorities”. At that point, Mao felt compelled to tell Camino to lower his voice.
“It was really hard to be physically near and intolerable to hear that kind of racist bile, so at some point, I said lower your voice, we are just trying to eat,” Mao wrote in a Facebook post.
Mao and her friend then got up to move to a booth on the far end of the diner when Camino began verbally harassing them.
“Inevitably the Trump supporter got aggressive and told us to go back to Tokyo (!), then called us cunts and whores. At which point I wasn’t having it with his racism and misogyny — I splashed my water across his face.
“He just kept spewing, kept calling us whores and cunts. And I’m just like, ‘Do you expect me to not react to that?’ And water’s not going to hurt anyone, so I just made him feel as uncomfortable as I felt.”
At this point, Camino got up from his seat, still hurling slurs at the women, and began calling the police while blocking the entrance of the diner with his body as if to prevent anyone from leaving. Mao then splashed water on Camino a second time.
A group of women trapped in the diner with them showed their support for Mao saying they would have her back when the police arrived. Reportedly, the staff and manager at the diner did absolutely nothing to intervene throughout the entire situation.
When the police arrived, they took IDs and notified the parties involved that splashing water on someone isn’t an offense that Mao could be arrested for.
“The sad thing is this white man believed so much in the racism of his fellow white man and the system — a system that has already been broken, and he understands this system benefits him without being informed of what he can or cannot charge someone for. He was trying to engage with other white men and the police officers in a “us” versus “them” way.”
Mao and her friend then left the diner around an hour later after the police had taken statements and given their IDs back. On their way out, another patron, a Latino man, had asked if the women were alright. Mao gave him the short version of the story before leaving.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the incident. Mao wrote in an update on her Facebook post:
“What happened next was also extremely upsetting. The woman told me that the man who asked us if we were okay, told the Trump supporter that he would not tolerate racism. Then the Trump guy took out pepper spray and sprayed it directly into the man’s face. That man had to go to the emergency room. At that point, the woman was definitely trying to leave, and the Trump supporter pushed her, and the pepper spray got into one of her friend’s eyes too.”
Frank Camino, was arrested by the police at 2:52 a.m. on Sunday. He was charged with assault with intent to cause physical injury, attempted assault, and recklessly causing injury (all misdemeanors) as well as a violation for harassment in the second degree. He was released from police custody on his own recognizance and will appear in court on December 19.
Mao ended her post by saying:
“But a person who demonstrated empathy, who stood up against racism and said he would not tolerate it, had to go to the emergency room. That person was hurt. We are not safe.”
Mao’s story has since gone viral on social media. You can read her full version on Facebook: