Several dozen demonstrators called on Flatbush residents to put their dollars into black-owned businesses and sign a petition to permanently shut down a nail salon where a grandmother and her two granddaughters were seen on video beaten with a broomstick and doused with acetone after a payment dispute.
"There's other places to go to where my dollars matter, that are black-owned shops. We don't have to go to them if they treat us like this," Natasha Wilkens, a 38-year-old Bushwick resident told Gothamist on Tuesday evening, just before the protest in front of New Red Apple Nails at 1426 Nostrand Avenue (the business is also listed as 888 Happy Red Nail).
More than 50 protesters, most of them African-American and led by community activist Carol Branch, gathered outside the still-shuttered storefront seeking 3,000 signatures for a petition calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to permanently shut down the business.
On August 3rd, Christina Thomas, her grandmother and another relative were attacked by multiple salon workers for refusing to pay $5 for a botched eyebrow waxing, according to one witness who posted video of the fight to Facebook.
Salon staffer HuiYue Zheng, 32, was charged with misdemeanor assault for beating Thomas in the back with the wooden stick, according to the criminal complaint.
Thomas, 21, was also arrested for punching, slapping and dragging another salon worker across the floor, according to the criminal complaint.
"The girl shouldn't have been arrested, they were held against their will and had nail polish remover thrown on them," said Pascale Baguidy. "Watching the video made my blood boil."
Residents from across the city marched seven blocks from New Red Apple Nails to Beautiful Red Apple Nails, a different salon that some residents claimed is owned by the same family.
"It's not the business owners we have a problem with, it's the workers," said Baguidy, 29, of Queens. "They share the same workers. Yesterday, the workers from this place walked down the block to the place down there to work."
Branch and other neighbors remembered a time when 888 Happy Red Nails had better customer service.
"I use to get my nails done here until they changed owners, but once (he) left and sold it, they brought in new workers and they were just rude," said Ria, 36, a 10-year resident, who declined to give her last name.
During the short walk, Branch—while holding a wooden broomstick like the one used in the attack—led the crowd's chants of "Black Dollars Matter" and "No Nails, No Toes, These racist businesses has got to go."
A handful of demonstrators caused a brief ruckus when they stopped at another unrelated nail salon calling on those customers to leave and put their money into black-owned businesses.
Erica Huang, 32, the manager of Beautiful Red Apple Nails, posted a notification on the business's front door alerting customers that despite similar signage they are not affiliated with the other shop.
Huang told Gothamist before the protesters arrived that her brother-in-law Bao Quan Pan, 39, bought their storefront at 1226 Nostrand Avenue in 2015 from a businessman who once owned both locations before retiring.
Huang was saddened by the actions of the employees of the nearby salon.
"I am so sorry to see that. I am very sad," said Huang who handles customer complaints very differently. "I would tell them don't pay or I ask if we can fix it. It's good for business to let them go if it was our mistake."
Minutes after the demonstrators arrived at the second location, Huang and Pan abruptly closed their doors two hours early.
Calls made to New Red Apple Nails on Wednesday morning went unanswered.
Last night, the NYPD said one officer sustained a minor head injury after he was struck in the head with a beer bottle thrown by someone in the crowd of protesters outside 1426 Nostrand Avenue. No arrests were reported.
Christina Carrega is a Brooklyn native who dedicated her journalism career to telling stories surrounding the criminal justice system. When Christina's not reporting hard news, she writes for a lifestyle website she co-founded called 32Letter.com and enjoys traveling.