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Murray Hill Trader Joe’s Employees Attacked For Asking Customers to Wear Masks

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Plus, a new fellowship program supports aspiring Black wine professionals in New York City — and more intel

Trader Joe’s store in Princeton, New Jersey... Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

10 Trader Joe’s employees were attacked this month after asking customers to wear masks, employees say

Two unmasked men assaulted employees at a Trader Joe’s store in Murray Hill earlier this month after they were asked by employees to wear masks inside the store, according to police records uncovered by Vice. The men ripped off the mask of an employee, hospitalized another worker by hitting them over the head with a wooden paddle, threw grocery baskets at staffers working in the store that day, and smashed a chair against the front window of the store in attempt to gain entry. In total, seven store employees and three managers were assaulted during the altercation, according to a store worker interviewed by Vice. Both men were arrested following the altercation, which occurred on July 14 but has not been reported on until now.

Two anonymous Trader Joe’s employees who were interviewed by Vice allege that the company has not acknowledged the July 14 incident publicly — as doing so could scare away customers — and say that the company did not inform all of its employees about the altercation. In a statement to Vice, Trader Joe’s denied those claims, adding that multiple meetings had occurred between the store’s managers and workers, and that the only employees who were not informed of the incident were those on leave. As is the case with other company issues, though, the company has yet to make a public announcement about the incident, which occurred roughly two weeks ago.

The assault at Trader Joe’s is just another local example of the ideological battle playing out across the country right now, in which at-risk workers are pitted against customers who view wearing a mask as a violation of their personal freedoms. In June, an unmasked woman at an Astoria bagel shop coughed on another customer in the store after being asked to wear a face covering in compliance with the store’s policy. That same week, a man protested in front of Bed-Stuy cafe Burly Coffee, shouting All Lives Matter and refused to leave or wear a mask.

In other news

— The owners of Leon and Son Wine and Spirits in Clinton Hill have announced a new fellowship program, which aims to support aspiring Black wine professionals. The Fulton Street Fellowship fully covers tuition to wine education programs within New York state and provides networking opportunities with industry professionals.

— Two Ridgewood residents are selling homemade kombucha out of glass bear bottles to raise money for the Black Chef Movement, a local group that has provided protesters with free meals since earlier this summer. The beverages, called Boocha Bears, can be ordered for pick-up through Instagram DM.

— Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights residents are rallying behind a local bagel shop, which sustained $13,000 in damages this weekend after three masked men vandalized the restaurant. A GoFundMe campaign started by the shop’s owners has amassed close to $7,000 in donations so far.

— Three Queens lawmakers are calling on a landlord of a local Key Foods to offer the grocer a short-term lease to remain open. Other grocers in the neighborhood have announced plans to close recently, which the representatives say could worsen food insecurity in the neighborhood.

— East Village Japanese restaurant Izakaya has reopened its outpost at Nowadays in Bushwick, according to owner Yudai Kanayama. Hokkaido-style lamb barbecue, called jingisukan, is available over rice and in burger form.

— Dozens of boxes filled with emergency meals for low-income New Yorkers were found abandoned under a Queens underpass on Monday.

— Ample Hills has reopened two more of its locations this week in Prospect Heights and Gowanus, according to a spokesperson for the company.

— New Yorkers, take note: