Protests intensified at the Brooklyn nail salon where a worker and a customer were arrested and charged for their involvement in a violent altercation over a $5 botched eyebrow job.
"What I'm here to do right now is to get justice for my 58-year-old mother, my 21-year-old daughter, that had acetone thrown on them and got beat with sticks like they are in the 1960s," Abby Moses, the mother of 21-year-old Christina Thomas—the customer involved in the fracas—said at the protest, according to the Times.
According to a criminal complaint provided by the Brooklyn DA's office, the incident took place around 9:35 p.m. on Friday at New Red Apple Nails on Nostrand Avenue in East Flatbush. Witness Mercy Maduka, who posted a widely-shared video of the incident on Facebook, said the fight was sparked by a bad eyebrow job: "So I'm at the nail salon and they fucked up a lady eyebrow and she refused to pay then a fight broke outttt," she wrote, saying the employees hit the customers "like animals."
You can see two angles of the fight in the video below—one from the store's surveillance camera, and one taken by a bystander in the store at the time.
According to the criminal complaint, nail salon worker Huiyue Zheng, 32, was charged with assault, menacing, harassment and weapon possession for the incident. Thomas told police that Zheng repeatedly hit her in the back with the broom, causing her to suffer a laceration to the neck, and substantial pain to the back.
Thomas was also arrested and charged with assault, menacing, and harassment. Nail salon worker Li Lin claims that Thomas punched and slapped her in the face, and dragged her on the floor, causing lacerations to the face and substantial neck pain.
Michael Lin, manager of New Red Apple Nails, told NBC that he called the cops when Thomas refused to pay for the eyebrow job. Things got physical when employees blocked the women from leaving the store while waiting for police to arrive. "She said she didn’t like it and doesn’t want to pay for nothing," Lin said. "I said, 'Sit down, let me call the police. If the police say you can go, you pay nothing. [If the] police say you pay for the pedicure, then you pay for the pedicure. No eyebrow, no problem.'"
"She had practically all her eyebrow off," Thomas's mother Moses told CBS. "He said 'I’ll fix it,' she said, 'you can’t fix it.'"
The NY Post estimates around 150 people showed up to protest the nail salon on Monday, many holding signs reading "Black $$$ matter," "They beat black women here," and "Don't spend here." Protesters also reportedly marched to another nail salon with a similar name, Beautiful Red Apple Nails at 1224 Nostrand Avenue. Police escorted workers out of the establishment for their safety, the Post reports.
The Post adds that some demonstrators chanted, “shut them down,” “f-k the police” and “no nails, no toes, these racist shops have got to go.” They also claim one protester screamed, “where is ICE?” (with the implication that some of the Asian employees might be undocumented immigrants).
One woman explained to the Times that the racial tensions underlying the incident had motivated the local community to come out in force: "The black community has been pushed aside for generations, and it just seems as if the longer time goes on, the more people think we’re simply going to go away," said Alexis Regnier, a 33-year-old health worker from Midwood. "If we go into an establishment to get something done, and then we end up being assaulted, something certainly needs to happen to that establishment."
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams released a statement on Monday, saying, "This morning, a constituent sent me video of Friday's incident at Flatbush's New Red Apple Nails salon. What I saw was deeply disturbing and unacceptable. I've spoken with NYPD brass and Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez on this matter, and my team is heading to the scene."
The nail salon closed early Monday due to the protests. A phone call placed to the salon went unanswered today, and it's unclear if it is open.