NEWS AND VIEWS (COMMENT), BROOKLYN, NEW YORK CITY: Chanan Aksornnan, 34, Chef Bao Bao a.k.a., the owner of an Instagram celebrity cat which I believe was a blue British Shorthair, Ponzu, liked to walk her pets including Ponzu in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park. Her pets included a dog, a bird and another cat. Comment: this was quite brave, I would suggest. She must have been quite a feature in the park to onlookers. She appears to be quite well known anyway as a celebrity chef.
It is reported and alleged that a boy tripped on Ponzu’s lead and then pulled it. Another version alleges that a 12-year-old child pulled the lead and dragged the cat along the ground ripping out Ponzu’s claws. Aksornnan claims that the boy threw the cat into the air. It is also alleged that the boy’s mother said to her: “This is what you got when you walked your f****** cat, b****.”
Escalation to hostility
A fight broke out between Aksornnan and her boyfriend and the hostile family. She was punched and kicked to the ground by the group. Aksornnan’s boyfriend was reportedly injured. Ponzu, who had a heart condition, had a heart attack and died at the scene. Aksornnan reported his death on April 7 on the Instagram page saying that he died of “shock and injuries” following the alleged assault. Ponzu had 45,000 followers.
Aksornnan said that the family verbally abused her and that it escalated into physical violence. She wrote on Instagram: “Dear Friends – it is with an immense sadness and anguish that we bring you this tragic news: our beloved Ponzu died on Easter Sunday after suffering shock and injuries from an incident in our park. We are traumatized, lost for words, heartbroken. Our family got physically assaulted that day and there is a pending police investigation to find and charge the perpetrators who showed no empathy for animals nor humans. We feel robbed. Ponzu was taken away from us way too soon. He was only 3 years and 4 months old. We lost our beloved boy. Mango, Tofu, and Kimchi lost their brother.”
Some updates – arrests
Because the incident took place a short while ago there have been updates on Twitter. One Twitterer wrote on April 22, “BREAKING NYPD has just confirmed with me that Evelyn Serrano, a 42-year-old female of Brooklyn, New York is charged with assault.”
She then adds the following: “NEW UPDATE! Julie Rodriguez, 34, of Brooklyn, New York is charged with assault tonight”. These are allegations at the moment and it is not entirely clear that they relate to this incident but I believe that they do. Further, another Twitterer tweeted that a a male suspect has been identified as part of the group who attacked Chef Bao Bao. The person, Desiree Desario, published a photograph of the man who is Mark Anthony Machuca. Once again this is an allegation no more because the reporting is somewhat confused.
Apology of sorts
A further update helps to clarify the story. It is an apology from one of those involved (it appears):
What the tweet infers is that there was indeed an encounter between a boy and Ponzu’s lead which perhaps led to a reprimand from Chef Bao Bao or her boyfriend which then led to an argument which escalated into physical violence. That is my interpretation and once again it is a gut feeling and not fact at this stage. You make up your own mind. These are allegations because there is a police investigation.
Justice for Ponzu campaign
Chef Bao Bao started a campaign for justice and it features on the Instagram account:
Comment: It’s hard to make sense of this. I think Chef Bao Bao was, as mentioned, was slightly ambitious in taking her group of companion animals for a walk in the park. It seems quite a lot to manage. It also appears to me as an outsider, simply reading the reports, that she was attacked partly out of jealousy but there was a genuine incident in which Ponzu was involved and this escalated. Chef Bao Bao is an attractive woman and successful. She is a woman of colour to use modern parlance. I just get a gut feeling that part of the reason for the attack was not solely because she was walking her cat in the park (as the woman shouted) but because she is a celebrity and quite noticeable in walking a cat on a lead in a public park together with other pets. It may be a hate crime and there may be racism element to it. The police may be investigating this.