Black Lives Matter Greater New York is making some serious claims about the city’s vaccine mandate following new details emerging from a brawl at a popular Italian restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side this month.
“Restaurants are using vaccine mandates to enforce their racist beliefs and excluding Black patrons,” co-founder and chairman of the organization said according to a report from the New York Times.
Earlier this month the city implemented a new rule requiring all indoor dining, entertainment and fitness establishments to check proof of vaccination or be fined. Businesses that don’t comply would be granted an initial warning, then fines starting at $1,000.
Black Women’s March co-founder Kimberly Bernard expressed something similar, stating, “We are serving notice on the mayor, on the governor, on the restaurant industry that we will not allow for you to use this pandemic, vaccination cards, and masks as another reason to be racist, to put us in prison. Because there’s enough of us in there.”
The bold comment came after reports emerged that three Black women, Dr. Kaeita Rankin, her niece Tyonnie Keshay Rankin and Sally Rechelle Lewis, who were visiting from Houston, Texas, claim they were called the N-word before a scuffle broke out between them and a hostess of Carmine’s restaurant who had asked the group for proof of vaccination prior to entry.
However, new details about the Sept. 16 incident have changed the narrative about what actually led to the melee. Security camera footage seen by the Times shows the women being escorted into the restaurant after showing their vaccination cards near the entrance.
Shortly after, they were joined by three men, only one of whom showed documentation. A little while after, the three women join the men outside. That’s when, reports say, the fight broke out. The footage reviewed by The Times is soundless, but it’s evident tensions were high before chaos broke loose.
During an interview, Dr. Rankin’s lawyer Justin Moore accused the unidentified hostess of “spouting out derogatory comments” and of talking down to the women, even suggesting that their documation was fake.
“They also heard the hostess say, ‘Yeah, you guys can leave my restaurant,’ or something very aggressive like that,” he continued, “When Dr. Rankin hears that, she turns around and addresses the hostess. She tells her: ‘This isn’t your restaurant. You’re just a staff member here. Please address us with respect.’”
Carolyn Richmond, an attorney for the restaurant, denied race had anything to do with the altercation. “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,” she said. “As all of the women showed proof of vaccination they were all permitted to enter and were in fact seated inside.”
The hostess is said to be at home resting following the attack. Meanwhile the three women were arrested and charged with assault and criminal mischief.