A food vendor who was brutally attacked by New York City Pride revelers over the weekend told the New York Post that the incident started after he refused to replace the American flag on his food cart with a rainbow Pride flag.
“Nader Hassaneen, 65, an Egyptian immigrant and retired street vendor, was on hand Sunday night to help son’s pal with his food cart when the unruly mob descended on him — beating him up and tossing hot sauce in his eyes,” the Post reported Wednesday.
“He said the melee began when a woman yanked an American flag off the cart, demanding it be replaced with a Pride flag instead,” the Post continued, noting that an eyewitness — a second food cart vendor — described the same interaction to the Post earlier this week.
When Hassaneen refused, he said, he was punched in the back of the head and beaten — an attack that left him disoriented and bloody. He was able to capture part of the brutal attack on video.
“I was videotaping it and telling her she shouldn’t do that,” Hassaneen told the Post in an interview this week. “My friend asked her, ‘Why did you do that?’”
The Post noted that the woman did not answer, but that “one of the assailants threw the hot sauce and all hell broke loose.”
“I have a broken nose. They say I might need surgery. When I saw the blood in my cap and I was bleeding from my nose, I thought I was going to bleed to death,” he said adding that, “I’m never going back there.”
Hassaneen retired from selling food on New York City streets, the Post said, because he has a heart condition. He stepped in to help a friend cover the event, which he thought would be well-controlled, even though Washington Square Park has a reputation for being dangerous for food vendors.
“I felt safe because the cops were around. There were about 30 or 40 cops near the arch,” Hassaneen told the Post, “but I was scared when they came at me. There were a lot of people coming at me at the same time.”
The vendors’ story differs from other accounts of the attack. Police officers who were on the scene told the Post that the fight broke out because of a disagreement over listed food prices. A videographer that is affiliated with the Pride revelers claimed that one of the vendors used an “anti-gay slur” triggering the beatdown.
Hassaneen said that he did not use an anti-gay slur and that he was just at the park to sell food, not tangle with customers.
“I would never do that. I don’t have a problem with them,” he said. “I know it was their parade. It was their day. They came out to have fun and enjoy themselves.
The New York Police Department said on Monday that eight people were arrested in connection with the melee in Washington Square Park, including a woman who allegedly bit a police officer, but they have yet to identify the suspect who assaulted Hassaneen.