After East Flatbush salon brawl, sustained outrage

Protestors gather outside of a nail salon at 1426 Nostrand Ave. to collect petition signatures after last week's brawl at 888 Happy Red Apple Nails.
Protestors gather outside of a nail salon at 1426 Nostrand Ave. to collect petition signatures after last week’s brawl at 888 Happy Red Apple Nails. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Protesters outraged over a brawl between workers and patrons at an East Flatbush nail salon shut down a nearby salon Tuesday evening, though it was not immediately clear whether the salons were affiliated.

Incensed community members gathered earlier in the day outside 888 Happy Red Apple Nails at 1426 Nostrand Ave., where the brawl had broken out days earlier after a dispute over a $5 eyebrow wax, before marching several blocks to Beautiful Red Apple Nails at 1224 Nostrand Ave. and shouting down workers and patrons, leading to an evacuation of the shop by police.

Video footage of the fight between two black salon patrons and Asian employees, including one wielding a broomstick, at 888 Happy Red Apple Nails had been posted to Facebook on Friday, garnering 814,000 views and angering locals who allege the outburst was racially charged.

“It wasn’t a beat down, it was a lynch mob,” said Carol Branch, 47, who helped lead the march.

Salon worker Huiyue Zheng was charged with several counts of assault, menacing and harassment for hitting a patron with a broom, according to a criminal complaint.

One of the patrons, Christina Thomas, was charged with assault, menacing and harassment for punching, slapping and dragging someone through the salon, the complaint states.

Attorneys for Zheng and Thomas could not be immediately reached for comment.

Salon manager Michael Lin told NBC4 the customer did not want to pay for the eyebrow work.

Branch and other organizers spent Tuesday before the march gathering signatures petitioning to close the business. The salon remained shuttered on Tuesday and its pull-down door was pasted with protest signs, one reading, “Take your broomsticks and fly away, you witches!”

As of Tuesday afternoon, they had around 2,000 signatures toward their goal of 3,000, according to one organizer. It was not immediately clear how the signatures would be used to shut down the salon.

The community members began marching down Nostrand Avenue to the second salon around 6:30 p.m., shouting chants such as, “No nails, no toes, this racist business got to go!”

When they came across an unrelated salon along the route, Jenny Nails at 1308 Nostrand Ave., several of the protesters rushed the doors and began shouting at the customers and workers inside. The confrontation led to a fight that spilled into the street and nearly came to blows.

A worker at Jenny Nails was shaken and outraged, and said some protesters had given the business trouble the day before — a first in the salon’s history in the neighborhood.

After the group made their way to Beautiful Red Apple Nails, which was blocked by a barricade and guarded by over a dozen police officers, a handful of salon workers could be seen fleeing through pouring rain into a nearby police van amid boos from protesters.

More from around NYC