A trio of Texas women beat up a hostess at an Upper West Side restaurant after she asked for their COVID-19 vaccination cards, police said Friday.
The violence broke out around 4:50 p.m. Thursday when the women asked to be seated inside Carmine's on Broadway. The hostess asked for their vaccine cards — a form of proof required under New York City's latest vaccine mandate — and the women freaked out, officials said.
The enraged tourists pounded the 24-year-old restaurant hostess like a piece of veal, and ripped off her necklace, police said. She was treated at the scene but was not badly hurt.
"She's extremely shook up," Carmine's owner Jeffrey Bank said of the victim on Friday. "It's inexcusable, ridiculous."
Here the video for those who haven’t seen, all three who attacked the hostess were arrested by @NYPD24Pct and given desk appearance tickets. They hail@from Humble, TX. https://t.co/2hCv63jdHY pic.twitter.com/4rJUMKHZDw— Myles N. Miller (@MylesMill) September 17, 2021
The tourists — Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 44, and Tyonnie Keshay Rankin, 21, both from Humble, along with Sally Rechelle Lewis, 49, of Houston — were given desk appearance tickets for assault, and released.
Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin said she and her party were not the aggressors.
"I'm 100 per cent innocent," she told The New York Daily News. "I'm going to talk to my lawyer and see what he allows me to say. But I can tell you It's not true."
The city started enforcing a vaccine mandate this week requiring people to prove they've been jabbed in order to participate in a number of indoor activities in the five boroughs. That includes eating at restaurants, drinking in bars, working out, going bowling and catching a movie or show.
Noncompliant businesses get a $US1,000 ($A1380) fine for the first offence, $2,000 for a second violation and $5,000 per incident for subsequent violations. City officials said the mandate will help keep New Yorkers safe and keep pandemic anxiety at bay.
Bank, speaking alongside Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, said the city should act to increase the penalty for anyone convicted of an assault related to vaccine enforcement.
"We have to make sure that our restaurant employees are safe," Brewer said. "We are trying to deal with COVID."
"Do not assault restaurant workers for doing their jobs — it keeps us safe," she added.
Bank said the mandate is not unreasonable, and not outside the realm of what some customers are already asked to do.
"There are many mandates, many rules and regulations," Bank said. "We've been here for 30 years. Somebody needs to come to the restaurant and get a drink, we have to ask for ID to see if they're 21. The staff is used to asking for ID. That's not a big deal. Clearly these people were just off. That's the bottom line. For anyone to assault someone for just trying to follow a law. ... There are different laws in different states. You travel to a state, you follow the laws. It's as simple as that."
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said the group will offer a $2,500 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone who attacks a restaurant employee for trying to enforce the city mandate.
"We're calling on the city and state of New York to immediately increase penalties for assaulting restaurant workers in New York City in conjunction with enforcement of COVID-19 protocols," Rigie said.
For now, Carmine's plans to post a security guard near the hostess station, Bank said.
"My employees are freaked out," he said of the caught-on-camera clash. "It's not fair."
When Bank got to the restaurant after the assault, his hostess was in the back of an ambulance being treated. She was "agitated," he said, and worried she had done something wrong.
But the woman was simply doing her job, Bank said, and her co-workers can be seen in video posted on Twitter apparently grappling with the trio. One employee can be seen lifting a woman from behind.
"They were told to sit outside," Bank explained. "It escalated pretty quickly."
Workers at nearby restaurants said they stood in solidarity with the battered hostess.
"We've had nothing like that, said Amanda Miller, 21, a hostess at Dagon, a restaurant next door to Carmine's. "Sometimes people will be like, 'Can you please let me in?' and I say no."
Joyce Frost, 57, who has lived in the Upper West Side for 30 years, stopped by Carmine's to express her support for the workers.
"They're tourists, from Texas. I'm not surprised," Frost said. "Coming to our city and attacking someone for doing their job. I think people have anger management issues, so don't take it out on our city. I think people are really taking the mandate seriously, and it's the only way to bring the city back."