A supporter of President-elect Donald Trump punched a woman in the face after arguing with her about politics on Saturday night at Bar Tabac, a French restaurant in Brooklyn, according to witnesses and the eatery itself.
Blake Drost, who tends bar at and manages social media for the business, Bar Tabac, said that he was not working the night of the assault, but that he spoke to staffers and customers who were at the restaurant, which is on Smith Street in Boerum Hill. From Drost's understanding, two women, Clinton supporters, were sitting together eating dinner and discussing politics. A couple seated next to them, Trump supporters, began arguing with the women, and the women requested to be moved, Drost said. The servers accommodated the women by moving the Trump-supporter couple across the dining room.
From there, "This is a packed Saturday night—it’s not like we’re keeping tabs on everybody—but as far as we know everything is going perfectly," Drost said. "The couple finishes, gets the check, and leaves."
But then, according to Drost, "the guy runs back in, past four or five tables, and punches this woman square in the face, then runs out."
Jonas Leon, a manager on duty at the time, spoke to the Brooklyn Paper, saying, "“It’s the worst thing ever—a guy in front of kids punching a girl in the face."
A witness to the aftermath, Jennifer Love, says she was dining nearby with a friend, Katie Freeman, their daughters, and Love's 11-year-old daughter's friend of the same age. Love explained that she didn't see the attack, but she heard it. She described the scene in an email:
All of a sudden, I hear a gasps and a ruckus behind, and I turned around and I see a man standing with his baby in a carrier on him in the middle of main dining room...and he looks totally stunned. Then I hear people yell, "call 911." So I assume that maybe there is something wrong with the baby or it is choking or something. So I get up and stand into the doorway of the main dining room which is just a few feet away. And everybody [is] staring at this woman sitting in the corner who has her hands over her face, so I assume that she is choking or crying or something. And everyone is just standing there frozen. And someone says, "he punched her."
Love said that she then spoke to the friend of the victim, whose account as related by Love jibes with that of Drost, the bartender. The man with the stroller was seated next to the pro-Trump couple, "within swinging distance," according to Love.
The attacker jostled past the baby in a highchair to get to his target, according to Leon.
"The guy came back almost running, and he started pushing some customer and the high-chair next to him with the baby because he couldn’t reach the girl,” the manager told the Brooklyn Paper. "Then he punched the girl."
An NYPD spokesman confirmed that an assault occurred at the bar on Saturday night at about 6:50 p.m. A police summary of the incident did not include the subject of the argument, but stated that a man got in a verbal dispute with someone, and that the man punched a 49-year-old woman in the face, then fled.
The woman did not suffer any visible injuries, and refused medical attention, the police spokesman said.
Drost said staffers and locals chased after the man and eventually caught up to him. Leon told the Paper that the man yelled "You don’t know who I am!" before jumping into his car and driving off. The NYPD spokesman said the assailant escaped in a white car, and that no arrests were made. Love said it took at least 10 minutes for cops to arrive.
Police describe the man as standing 5-foot-6, with straight hair, and last seen wearing black sneakers and a black overcoat. Leon described the man as being in his 40s and having a buzz cut. He apparently paid with cash, not a credit card.
Freeman, Love's friend, said that after that attack, "I ran over to [the victim] and told her, 'I’m so sorry this happened," and asked her is she okay. She just held me and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, and said, 'I don’t know what’s happening. I was assaulted.'"
Freeman said that she had thought she was safe in Brooklyn's "liberal bubble," and that the days since the election have been rough, to say the least.
[The victim] seemed to feel so violated and so frightened and confused, and I think that’s a similar feeling that a lot of my friends who are minorities, who are gay, who are women are feeling in the aftermath of this election. We’re feeling quite shaken, quite vulnerable, but also empowered. I have had a lot of women i know crying on my shoulder in the aftermath of this election
More than 92 percent, or 614 voters in the election district that contains Bar Tabac cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, compared to 19, or less than 3 percent for Trump.
In a statement this afternoon on Bar Tabac's Facebook page, Drost wrote:
We at Bar Tabac do not condone violence of any type or manner, especially in our own establishment; to the tough guy who assaulted a female patron of ours on Saturday night over a political conversation: Once the law is done with you, do not come back to Bar Tabac (this includes your partner). At a point in this nation when tensions are highest we need to come together now more than ever, we apologize to any customers who had to witness this vulgar outburst.
Drost explained that he wanted to be more forceful in his condemnation, but that business being what it is, it was prudent not to.
"The first draft of that post i wrote was much more aggressive, to say the least," he said. "We can’t be biased here, but we can’t condone any violence. It’s shameful behavior. I’m quite shocked that this happened [in] one of the most liberal neighborhoods around."
Update 5:45 p.m.:
Mayor de Blasio weighed in on the attack with this tweet.
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 14, 2016