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3 Women Charged in NYC Restaurant Melee Over COVID

Carmine's says there's no proof its hostess used a racial slur
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2021 12:59 PM CDT
Updated Oct 6, 2021 10:25 AM CDT
NYC Restaurant Melee Over COVID Takes a Turn
In this photo from last month, a sign informs customers they must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to dine indoors at Carmine's Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

(Newser) Update: Three woman who were recorded allegedly attacking a NYC restaurant hostess in a September dust-up over proof of vaccination were arraigned Tuesday on charges of third-degree assault, attempted assault, and harassment. The New York Post reports Sally Rechelle Lewis, 49; Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 44; Tyonnie Keshay Rankin, 21, could face up to a yearlong sentence if convicted. Court papers allege that one of the women pulled at the Carmine hostess's necklace so hard it resulted in a laceration. The woman will next appear in court Nov. 18. Our original story from Sept. 20 follows:

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Last week, the NYPD accused three Texas women of assaulting the hostess of a New York City restaurant who refused to allow them entry because they didn't have proof of COVID vaccinations. Over the weekend, however, new details emerged about the incident at Carmine's, a popular Italian eatery in Manhattan, reports the New York Times. A review of security footage shows that the three women, who are Black, were actually allowed into the restaurant, and both sides have confirmed they did have vaccination cards. But minutes later, three Black men showed up to join them and were denied entry because two didn't have proof of their shots.

Around then, the women came back outside, and an attorney for one of the women says the white hostess suggested the vaccine cards the group did have on them were fake and spoke condescendingly to them. Attorney Justin Moore says the white hostess used a racial slur. “The hostess begins spouting out derogatory comments, and speaking with two of the women," Moore tells the Times. "They claim that the N-word is being spewed out."

A lawyer who represents the restaurant, however, insists that "nothing about this incident suggests race was an issue." Attorney Carolyn Richmond adds that "the idea that anyone would become violent as an employee [checks for proof of vaccination] is anathema to New York." Moore, for his part, calls the confrontation "mutual combat." The group Black Lives Matters says a "Cancel Carmine's" protest on behalf of the patrons is planned at the restaurant Monday, per Patch. (Read more New York City stories.)

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