NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Disputes over face masks have escalated into violence in bodegas in the city. And now, their owners want the NYPD to give them more help.
Inside La Parada Latina in the Bronx, the clerk is seen on video pointing out the obvious to a mask-less customer.
He gets a firm slap instead of compliance.
The video was recorded early in the evening on Aug. 6. To get the suspect out of the store, the clerk throws a bottle and the man exits.
Witnesses said another man that was friends with the first arrived seconds later to start a fist fight with another worker in the same store.
The second man is seen throwing an item and the clerk responds by also launching bottles.
“The bodega guy runs away and throws two bottles at him to try and get him out of the store,” Fernando Mateo of the United Bodegas of America told reporters, including CBS2’s Dave Carlin, on Sunday. “We don’t like telling people to put on a mask, but it’s what the governor and the mayor have imposed on us.”
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Mateo said state and city regulations that require store owners enforce mask rules put innocent workers in danger.
“Assaulted, spit on, attacked, smacked, beat up … our businesses have been destroyed,” Mateo said. “There are certain things that we can control, like selling liquor to a minor, but we can’t control someone walking in from the street without a mask and gets violent when he’s asked to put on a mask.”
Bodega owner Hamid Al Tarib said he’s scared.
“It’s too much. It’s too much,” he said.
Carlin asked Al Tarib to estimate how often people come in and ignore the coronavirus safety sign, to which he responded 45%.
“It’s a job for the cops, not for us. Not me. I’m just working here. If I got shot nobody gonna help my family, he added.
“There was someone there without a mask and there were two police officers in the deli without mask and I asked the police officers to enforce it and they would not. They said they’re not gonna get into … you, know, God knows what kind of issue just to order someone to put on a mask,” Madlyn Sullivan said.
Mateo said his organization will meet with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea on Sept. 16. The message delivered to the top cop will be store owners must step back and police take the lead on mask enforcement.
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