A lawyer in New York City was snowed under with criticism this week after taking to Twitter to grumble about a person selling food in a public park, with users calling her “petty and vindictive” for calling emergency services on the vendor.
It began with Sonya Shaykhoun, Esq., as her screen name reads, and a Wednesday tweet. “Yesterday I was coming back from tennis in Riverside Park and came upon this ad hoc unlicensed food stand,” she wrote alongside two photos of a pair of women with a table set up along a walking path.
“They were calling out to people to buy from them and I asked them, ‘where’s your permit’ cuz we all know the permit has to be displayed,” Shaykhoum continued, alleging that one of the women then “got belligerent and started filming me and refused to show me her permit.”
“I called her a name,” the lawyer added, without specifying what word she’d used. “Then I called 911.” She implied she’d been put in touch with the NYPD, who she said did not follow up on the case with her. (A spokesperson for the department said they had no record of a complaint like the one she’d described as of Thursday evening.)
“We have beautiful parks, if you see ppl [sic] defacing them by setting up illegal stands, call the police,” Shaykhoum said. “Time to take back out beautiful City.”
Rather than respond to her call, the replies to her tweet—many of them from self-professed New Yorkers—were by turn mocking, scathing, and despairing. As the responses piled up, the tweet quickly went viral, accruing more than four million views and 6,000 replies by Thursday evening.
“Jesus Christ Karen,” one user wrote. “Get a life and leave others alone.”
Another added, “Here’s a wild take: Leave people alone, strangers don’t owe you anything, purchase something or keep it moving.”
“i feel like maybe you should get a life,” another said.
“People are struggling in this country to feed them selves,” a fourth user wrote, “and they have to hustle so they keep a roof over their head and you decided that it was your business to harass these people. I don’t think I would feel very good about myself if I did that.”
Shaykhoun spent part of Wednesday and Thursday deep in her own reply section, scrapping with her critics. In response to Jacob Silverman, a freelance journalist who called her “petty and vindictive” over the matter, Shaykhoun replied, “Do you know what is petty and vindictive? The whole Antifa-Con that landed on this tweet – because now apparently it’s OK to break the law so long as you are a person of color or any other so-called minority.”
“Again, you did a bad thing and tried to harm people who were doing nothing to bother you,” Silverman wrote. “Sorry you can’t handle a Twitter pile-on.”
“I can handle it, I just find it hypocritical and ridiculous,” Shaykhoun snapped, going on to call it “stupid and racist” that some people “think the rules don’t apply to people of color and consequently, we should all suck it up and live in a society where only some rules are applied and not others, and definitely not on people of color.”
She also posted through it, doubling down on her original post in later tweets. “Any good lawyer knows that you need to have a permit at the very least to sell anything to the public,” she tweeted on Thursday morning, posting a link to a city government page about permits in parks.
Shaykhoun previously attracted a smaller swarm of negative attention on Twitter in February, when she complained about “a fall-down-drunk South American man” outside her apartment building, suggesting he was an “illegal.” After firing off that tweet, she spent the following days similarly waging war in her reply section.
An online biography for Shaykhoun describes her as a New York City native with more than 18 years working overseas on “high-value contracts in technology, media, and telecommunications.” According to her LinkedIn, she previously worked as senior legal counsel to Al Jazeera Media Network and in the contracts department of Qatar Airways.
She did not immediately return a request for comment from The Daily Beast on Thursday.
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