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Texas tourists accused of roughing up hostess at Carmine's were racially profiled: attorney




Three Texas tourists accused of attacking a hostess at an Upper West Side restaurant for questioning their COVID-19 vaccination cards claim they were racially profiled and demand the hostess - who they say was the aggressor - be fired.

"This hostess clearly has some anger management issues and unfortunately her aggression and her violence led to something that three Black women are being punished for," Texas civil rights lawyer Justin Moore said of the incident Thursday afternoon at Carmine's.

A lawyer for Carmine's unequivocally denied the Texas womens' accusation.

"Any claim that they were racially profiled is a complete fabrication, disingenuous, and outright irresponsible," said the lawyer, Carolyn Richmond.

Police say the three women attacked a 24-year-old hostess, who is believed to be Asian, at Carmine's, on Broadway near W. 91st St.

Moore claims the three women had already been seated inside and had ordered drinks when the hostess "arbitrarily" and "unjustifiably" began questioning their vaccination cards' validity.

The hostess "refused service to these women and got hostile with them," Moore said in a news release late Friday. "The injuries that she received were incurred by her being physically restrained by other staff at Carmine's after she was called out for racial discrimination, which she took offense to."

The three women - identified as Kaeita Rankin, 44, her niece Tyonnie Keshay Rankin, both of Humble, Texas, and Sally Rechelle Lewis, 49, of Houston - were given desk appearance tickets for assault and released. They're expected to answer the charges in Manhattan Criminal Court on Oct. 1.

Moore said the hostess was rude to Rankin and her group. When they decided to leave, the N-word was dropped and the hostess "lunged" at Rankin, sparking the fight, he said.

"The hostess is apparently poorly trained to deal with patrols and has obvious issues with Black women and has a disregard for women of color," Moore said.

Cellphone video of the clash shows the Texas tourists struggling with the younger woman, almost knocking over the restaurant's hostess counter in the process. A witness and a restaurant staffer were seen bodily carrying one of the tourists from the scene.

The hostess was treated at the scene but was not badly hurt, Carmine's owner Jeffrey Bank told The New York Daily News Friday.

"She's extremely shook up," Bank said. "It's inexcusable, ridiculous."

Moore identified Kaeita Rankin as Texas businesswoman with a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical science. Lewis is her assistant, according to Hawk Newsome, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter NY, who is helping the Rankin family.

"(They) were racially profiled at Carmine's in Manhattan," said Newsome, who plans to hold a protest in front of Carmine's Monday. "The police showed up and arrested Dr. Rankin instead of arresting the person who assaulted her and those she was with."

Rankin and her party have returned to Texas, where she's encouraged her community to get vaccinated, Moore said.

"The fact that people are using the vaccination IDs as a proxy to justify the hostess' bad acts just adds insult to injury and does a disservice to the policy," Moore said.

A call to Rankin was not returned.

The city started enforcing a vaccine mandate this week requiring people to prove they've been jabbed in order to participate in a number of indoor activities in the five boroughs. That includes eating at restaurants, drinking in bars, working out, going bowling and catching a movie or show.

Noncompliant businesses get a $1,000 fine for the first offense, $2,000 for a second violation and $5,000 per incident for subsequent violations. City officials said the mandate will help keep New Yorkers safe and keep pandemic anxiety at bay.

Attempts to reach Bank and the hostess for comment on Moore's claims were not successful Saturday.

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