Black Lives Matter’s Greater New York plans to protest Carmine’s restaurant in New York City following reports that a hostess tangled with a group of black women over COVID-19 vaccination cards. The group is also claiming that the city’s vaccine passport is racist.
Fox News reported that “a 24-year-old hostess was assaulted Thursday” at Carmine’s “by three Black female tourists from Texas after the hostess requested to see their COVID-19 vaccine card. Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 44, Tyonnie Keshay Rankin, 21, and Sally Rechelle Lewis, 49, were arrested and charged with assault and criminal mischief.”
Later reports seem to indicate that the women were seated, but ended up in an argument with the hostess after men who were supposed to join their party refused to provide the hostess with their proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
An attorney for one of the women claims that the hostess used a racial slur and that the pair engaged in “mutual combat,” though the women were arrested for assault.
The BLM group now says it will protest not just Carmine’s for the hostess’s alleged behavior in enforcing the city’s vaccine mandate but that the mandate itself, which requires diners to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to dine indoors, is itself racist — or, at least provides cover for racism.
“I believe that this New York City vaccine passport will be used to keep Black people out of spaces, and if we don’t stop it now then the police will use it as an excuse to harass and arrest our people,” a representative for BLM Greater New York told Fox.
Carmine’s fought back against the claims of racism, telling the media in a statement that all of their hosts are people of color and that no one involved in the altercation uttered a slur.
“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,” the restaurant said. “Three female guests in the party who had shown proof of vaccination and been welcomed into the restaurant without issue then launched an entirely unprovoked, brutal attack on our hosts, one of whom continues to suffer from a concussion.”
Regardless, racial justice advocates took to social media over the weekend to demand that Carmine’s be “canceled.”
Commentators have suggested that vaccine mandates may have the unintended effect of excluding people of color from certain spaces, particularly given that, according to Bloomberg, racial gaps in vaccination are larger than previously thought.
“There is a risk that people of color who were not vaccinated might be disproportionately denied services because of [vaccine mandates],” Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, told Yahoo News earlier this summer. “The solution to that, of course, is to get vaccinated.”
New York City, of course, has some of the strictest vaccine mandates of any major city in the United States, requiring diners who want to sit indoors provide proof of having had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.
The mandate is not just affecting individuals but also the city’s restaurant industry, according to NYC’s CBS affiliate, which reported that many of the city’s restaurants are not complying with the passport restrictions. Restaurant owners held a rally on Sunday demanding that NYC mayor Bill de Blasio roll back the vaccine mandate.