- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Black Lives Matter activists demonstrated Monday against “racist” COVID-19 vaccine mandates, staging a rally outside a restaurant they said used the city’s mandate to deny service to Black patrons.

The crowd protesting in front of Carmine’s restaurant in Manhattan chanted “Carmine’s are racist,” according to reports.

The protest stemmed from a brawl last week when a hostess at Carmine’s demanded proof from patrons, including three Black women. The activists condemned the mandate as an excuse to discriminate against Black people and exclude them from restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

“Having a vaccination card does not protect you from discrimination,” said Chivona Newsome, co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. “The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits the actions of Carmine’s. It says it is illegal to discriminate against you on the basis of race.”

She added, “Seventy-two percent of Black people in this city from ages 18 to 44 are unvaccinated. So what is going to stop the Gestapo, I mean the NYPD, from rounding up Black people, from snatching them off the train, off the bus?”

The brawl at Carmine’s erupted when a 24-year old hostess allegedly accused three Black women from Texas of carrying fake COVID-19 vaccine cards, The New York Times reported,

Lawyers for Carmine’s and the women both showed that the women did provide proof of vaccination. However, the attorney representing one of the women, Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, a doctor, said the hostess “spewed out” the N-word.

Two men later attempted to join the three women inside the restaurant but were denied entry, because they did not have vaccination cards. Following the fight, New York Police Department officers arrested the three women for investigation of criminal mischief and assault.

“Nothing about this incident suggests race was an issue,” Carolyn Richmond, a lawyer who represents the restaurant, wrote in an email to The Times. “The pandemic has added a key responsibility to the host position — ensuring the safety and health of all employees and guests by checking for proof of vaccination in compliance with New York City law.”

On Sept. 13, the city began requiring that restaurants and other public indoor establishments ask for proof of vaccination status from their customers.

“If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the time. “The only way to patronize these establishments is if you are vaccinated, at least one dose. The same for folks in terms of work, they will need at least one dose.”

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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