Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside of Carmine’s restaurant yesterday to demand justice following what they called the unlawful arrest of three Black women over a fight ignited by vaccine mandates outside of the Upper West Side restaurant.
“Cancel Carmine’s! Cancel Carmine’s! Cancel Carmine’s,” protesters chanted.
The three Black women from Humble, Texas were arrested on Sept. 16 after a punching and shoving an Asian Carmine’s hostess who they claimed used a racial slur.
Originally, the hostess told police the women would not show their vaccination cards resulting in the altercation, according to NYPD spokesperson detective Sophia Mason.
But the footage told another story.
Three men, two of which could not show their proof of vaccination, tried to join the women, who were already seated inside, but were not granted entry.
The women then went outside to meet the men and claimed the 24-year-old hostess began yelling racial expletives at them, according to Justin Moore, the women’s attorney.
Then, a fight broke out.
One of the women grabbed the hostess by the shirt and appeared to push and hit her. Employees tried to break up the fight. The video footage did not have sound, so it was unclear if the hostess said any racial expletive. She was also wearing a mask. The two other hostess at the podium were a Black woman and a Latina.
According to police the hostess was “struck” multiple times with “closed fists” and suffered from scratches and bruises on her face, chest and arm. An employee suffered a concussion, but it’s not clear if it was the hostess or someone who tried to break up the fight.
The three women — Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 44, Tyonnie Keshay Rankin, 21, and Sally Rechelle Lewis, 49, were charged with assault and criminal mischief, according to police.
New York City is the first big city to require proof of vaccination to access indoor eateries. Any business that does not comply could face a $1,000 fine.
Carmine’s released a statement denying the incident had anything to do with racism.
“Last week’s violence against our staff had nothing to do with race, despite a Texas criminal defense lawyer’s false assertions to the contrary,” said Jeffrey Bank, the restaurant said in a statement. “None of the attackers offered any reason for their attack. None of the hosts – all of whom are people of color – uttered a racial slur.”
Chivona Newsome, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, called vaccine passports racist. Covid deaths in America have soared past 695,000. Black and Hispanics have larger deaths rates in every age category.
“We know that any law created in this racist system disproportionately affects Black people, specifically Black women,” she said. “But what the terrible thing is, in this city, the most diverse city, what we like to call a melting pot, a Black woman can’t even get a plate of lasagna. … A vaccination passport is not a free passport for racism.”
Protesters called for the charges against the women to be dropped, the hostess to be fired and an apology to be released by Carmine’s. Moore said the hostess should be charged for filing a false police report.