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Vendor Punched, Menaced: ‘I’ll Burn Your Stand Down’ - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


Vendor Punched, Menaced: ‘I’ll Burn Your Stand Down’


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IMG_1165Stephen Rex Brown Mohammed Rahman, moments after being punched.

It was a hellacious start to the day for Mohammed Rahman, a Bangladeshi man who serves gyros, lamb over rice and the like from his cart at Astor Place.

At around 12:15 p.m. a shoeless woman flipped out at him, yelling that Mr. Rahman was “making me wait so long for my damn food.” She then tossed a handful of the cart’s water bottles behind her, nearly striking a man in a suit walking by the Chase Bank. “Whoa! Take it easy!” he said.

The woman, who looked to be in her early 20s, walked off toward St. Marks Place. But the trouble was only beginning.

Three other men, who were apparently with the woman, were still lingering around the food cart, berating Mr. Rahman. The vendor, who has been in the U.S. for two and a half years, stepped out of his cart to call the police. While he spoke on the phone, one of the men, wearing all black and carrying a backpack, clocked Mr. Rahman in the jaw.

The trio then walked off down Lafayette Street, and a crowd quickly formed around the distraught vendor. “He was trying to get free food or something, and then he punched him. That’s not right!” said a Chase Bank employee who witnessed the whole ordeal.

IMG_1167Stephen Rex Brown Officers speak with Mr. Rahman minutes after the attack.

Soon, the police arrived and asked the crowd to disperse.

But it turned out that Mr. Rahman’s troubles were not yet over. About 45 minutes after the mayhem, The Local returned to the cart, where Mr. Rahman was back at work.

“He’s homeless. He told me, ‘give me free food,'” he said. “I said, ‘Sorry, I can’t, I’m working.'”

But when The Local asked Mr. Rahman whether the police had arrested the man who threw the punch, a passerby interjected, “You don’t know why he got punched. He disrespected my sister, and he got punched in the mouth.”

IMG_1168Stephen Rex Brown Mr. Rahman’s cart at Astor Place.

“I’m a lieutenant in the marine corps — I don’t like you foreigners anyway,” said the man, who not surprisingly, refused to give his name. “I won’t hurt you, I’ll just burn your stand down. You’re in a lot of trouble. If your boss doesn’t fire you, I’m going to burn your stand down.”

The man, who had dreadlocks and was wearing a grey tank top, then walked down Astor Place toward Broadway alongside another man carrying trash bags.

Mr. Rahman, who seemed to be stunned by all that had just happened, asked The Local, “Sir, do I have a problem?”