Two women, who are Chinese-American, were eating early Sunday morning at the Lower East Side Coffee Shop on 14th Street near Avenue A. One of the women, Sally Wen Mao, a Brooklyn-based poet, shared details of the ugly scene that transpired at the diner via Twitter and Facebook on Sunday. (Several EVG readers shared her Facebook post with us.)
Sadly, I am not surprised about what happened — it was only a matter of time before I would experience this shit personally.
Last night around 2AM I was eating in a 14th Street diner, Lower East Side Coffee Shop, with a friend. Just as we were eating, a loud angry man came in, sat in the booth behind ours, and started complaining about Hamilton, how disgusting and "racist" they were to Pence.
Right behind me, he started rambling loudly, complaining about "so-called minorities." It was really hard to be physically near and intolerable to hear that kind of racist bile, so at some point, I said lower your voice, we are just trying to eat. Then we switched seats to the corner.
Inevitably the Trump supporter got aggressive and told us to go back to Tokyo (!), then called us c**** and whores. At which point I wasn't having it with his racism and misogyny — I splashed my water across his face.
He escalated, called the police and said he would have me arrested all the while calling us derogatory slurs. The guy who was working at the diner (presumably the owner) said and did nothing as we couldn't believe the venom we were getting from this angry dangerous man.
The Trump supporter then blockaded the door to prevent us from leaving the diner, trapping us inside for over an hour. We were physically afraid to go near the door for fear of what he would do to us. He was describing me to the police on his phone, saying that he was for sure pressing charges, sickeningly staring at me and making comments about my appearance. We sat with other women who witnessed the whole thing and were horrified (they showed solidarity to us and said that they would support us if the police asked for the story). More racist sexist shit poured out of him, "c*** whores," he wasn't very creative. So I splashed another glass of water on his face.
The police arrived, asking what happened. They took down my ID, said splashing water is not something they can arrest me for. The sad thing is this white man believed so much in the racism of his fellow white man and the system — a system that has already been broken, and he understands this system benefits him without being informed of what he can or cannot charge someone for. He was trying to engage with other white men and the police officers in a "us" versus "them" way. And sadly, playing the role of demure harmless Asian woman worked in getting the cops to dismiss it, and I recognize my privilege. Eventually after over an hour, the cops had to palliate him, he grew more and more angry over why they weren't arresting me, ranting about "men's rights."
UPDATED: A woman who was there with me and witnessed the whole thing told me that after my friend and I left, there was an incident. A Latino man came in with two of his friends as we were waiting for the police to hand us back my ID and sat in the booth we sat in. As we were exiting, he asked us if we were okay, and I told him a very, very brief version of the story ...
What happened next was also extremely upsetting. The woman told me that the man who asked us if we were okay, told the Trump supporter that he would not tolerate racism. Then the Trump guy took out pepper spray and sprayed it directly into the man's face. That man had to go to the emergency room. At that point, the woman was definitely trying to leave, and the Trump supporter pushed her, and the pepper spray got into one of her friend's eyes too.
The Trump supporter was arrested as the police saw what happened.
But a person who demonstrated empathy, who stood up against racism and said he would not tolerate it, had to go to the emergency room. That person was hurt. We are not safe.
Gothamist has an account of the incident here. The woman at the diner who witnessed what happened is a Mic News reporter, and she shared her version of the events here.
Gothamist also has more details about the man's arrest:
Police arrested Frank Camino, 56, at 2:52 a.m. on Sunday. He's since been charged with assault in the second degree and possession of a weapon, specifically pepper spray. According to a criminal complaint, Camino sprayed a man in the face and eyes with a can of pepper spray, causing swelling, redness and pain.
A spokesman for the NYPD confirmed that Camino was also the man who called 911 to report being splashed with water. Prosecutors and police did not provide details on the arguments that promoted both interactions. Camino's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment; Camino himself could not be reached.
As for why the diner's staff didn't come to assist the women, a manager there told Gothamist that he "had no idea."