State Watch

Three arrested for allegedly assaulting NYC hostess who asked for COVID-19 vaccine proof

Three women have been arrested and charged for allegedly assaulting a New York City restaurant hostess after she asked the group to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 under the city's new vaccine mandate for indoor public spaces. 

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) told The Hill that in the late afternoon Thursday, officers responded to a 911 call regarding an assault outside Carmine's Italian restaurant on Manhattan's Upper West Side. 

Police said that the hostess, a 24-year-old-woman whose name has not been released publicly, "reported that she got into a dispute with three unknown females after she requested to see their Covid-19 vaccine card." 

"The individuals struck her multiple times with closed fists," police added, noting that the hostess "suffered bruises and scratches to her face, chest and arm" and that her necklace broke during the altercation.

Footage obtained by NBC New York and shared on social media appeared to show the women crowded around the restaurant employee outside the restaurant, almost knocking over the hostess stand as staff and bystanders attempted to intervene. 

The NYPD added that it had arrested and charged three women from Texas in connection with the incident: 44-year-old Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 21-year-old Tyonnie Keshay Rankin and 49-year-old Sally Rechelle Lewis. 

Each of the women has been charged with assault and criminal mischief, police said. 

In a statement to NBC New York, Carmine's said it was a "shocking and tragic situation when one of our valued employees is assaulted for doing their job - as required by city policies - and trying to make a living."

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer also commented on the incident, tweeting that the alleged actions of the three women were "abhorrent." 

"Restaurant workers are doing their jobs by keeping us safe--we need to keep them safe in turn," she added. 

The city's vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms and other public indoor activities officially went into effect this week, and any businesses that fail to comply are subject to a potential $1,000 fine. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) tweeted Thursday that it was Restaurant Vaccination Day of Action, when mobile vaccine units were placed at restaurants across the city to help boost vaccination rates.

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