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Texas Women Charged With Assault Against NYC Restaurant Hostess Regarding Vaccine Requirement

NY: New York during the COVID-19 pandemic
Richard B. Levine
Sipa USA via Reuters
Al fresco dining in the Soho neighborhood in New York on Saturday, May 22, 2021. New York has relaxed mask mandates allowing most outdoor activities to be mask free as well as many indoor settings, with caveats.

Update on Sept. 20:

Over the weekend, The New York Times reported additional details about the incident which resulted in the arrests of three Texas women.

Lawyers from both sides — representing the restaurant, Carmine’s, and the patrons — said the women showed their COVID-19 vaccine cards to restaurant staff and were seated inside. Soon after, three men tried to join their party, but only one had a vaccine card.

The women then came back outside to join the rest of their party. Justin Moore, a lawyer representing one of the women, told the Times the hostess spoke “condescendingly” to the group and suggested their vaccine cards were fake.

Moore said his client claims the hostess said something racist and the dispute was “mutual combat.” A lawyer representing Carmine’s disagrees with that claim, telling the Times “nothing about this incident suggests race was an issue.”

Previous reporting:

Three Texas women allegedly assaulted a New York City restaurant hostess after she questioned their coronavirus vaccine status. New York City Police officials confirmed three women were charged with one count of assault each.

In a now-viral video the women are seen pushing through a podium outside of the restaurant Carmine’s, lunging toward the hostess. Several bystanders intervened.

New York City officials recently instituted a policy requiring restaurants to ask patrons for vaccination proof to dine indoors. Some media reports of the incident state the woman showed vaccine cards, but the hostess questioned if they were real. NYPD officials said they couldn’t confirm the details.

Andrew Rigie is the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. He told Gothamist this may be the first reported assault regarding the vaccine policy.

The hostess was treated for her injuries which included lacerations to her face. The women were placed in a holding cell and were released after receiving a desk appearance date.

An NYPD spokesperson would not confirm the identities of the three women, The New York Times reports them as Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 44, and Tyonnie Keshay Rankin, 21, of Humble, Texas, and Sally Rechelle Lewis, 49, of Houston.

Rigie tweeted out a statement calling on city and state officials to “to immediately increase penalties for assaulting restaurant workers in NYC in conjunction with enforcement of Covid-19 protocols.”

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Bri Kirkham can be reached at bri@tpr.org or on Twitter at @BriKirk