A lawyer for three women from Texas arrested after a brawl outside a popular New York City restaurant over the requirement that guests show proof of vaccination has introduced a new factor into the case: race.
In video shot by an onlooker last Thursday and shared widely on social media, a restaurant hostess, who is white, is seen being attacked.
Attorneys for both the restaurant, Carmine’s, and the women from Texas, who are Black, told the New York Times the women provided documentation of Covid-19 vaccinations but the altercation escalated after two men who joined the party did not.
An attorney for the women told the Times the hostess suggested the vaccination cards were fake, spoke condescendingly and used a racial slur.
The dispute was “mutual combat”, Justin Moore said.
Carolyn Richmond, an attorney representing Carmine’s, denied the claim, telling the Times “nothing about this incident suggests race was an issue”.
Nonetheless, a Black Lives Matter activist told the Times a demonstration was planned outside the restaurant on Monday, to protest the treatment of Black patrons.
Surveillance footage reviewed by the Times showed the three women being ushered into the restaurant after showing documentation outside.
It also showed three men showing up several minutes later but only one showing a vaccination card. The fight broke out shortly after.
According to police, the three women punched the hostess repeatedly and broke her necklace, leaving the 24-year-old bruised and scratched. She was taken to a hospital.
The women face charges of misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief and are scheduled to appear in court on 5 October.
The New York City rule requiring proof of vaccination for indoor restaurant dining, gyms and entertainment venues has been in effect since 17 August but only began being enforced in the past week.