The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Dressed as Power Rangers, restaurant staff helps save woman from attacker

Friday was the first time the staff at Noka Ramen had worn their Power Rangers costumes. (Noka Ramen)

The staff at Noka Ramen just wanted to have a fun evening Friday, which is why the crew in Oakland, Calif., donned Power Rangers costumes to serve up cocktails and bowls of noodles.

But then a woman ran into the restaurant pleading for help — and the superheroes snapped into action.

“We were definitely scared,” manager Cartoon Phukchampa, who was dressed as the Black Ranger, told The Washington Post.

That fear didn’t stop them from channeling the spandex-suit-wearing warriors. According to customer Ploi Pirapokin, who wrote a detailed account of the Friday incident on Twitter, a man chased the woman into the restaurant and put her in a chokehold.

Phukchampa and the Yellow Ranger intervened, telling the man to leave — at which point he swung at them, Pirapokin wrote. The Yellow Ranger blocked the punch as the distressed woman was told to hide in the kitchen.

The man yelled anti-Asian slurs before trying to dash into the kitchen behind her, according to Pirapokin, 34. But the Yellow Ranger grabbed him by the collar and dragged him out of the restaurant while the man kicked and threw punches, she said.

“Patrons are shaking & crying,” Pirapokin wrote. “The pink power ranger (hostess) tells us our food is free.”

The man was eventually taken into custody, according to an Oakland Police Department spokesperson, Officer Darryl Rodgers, who characterized the incident as a domestic dispute that involved a man physically assaulting a woman. The incident, which took place shortly before 9 p.m., remains under investigation, Rodgers said.

None of Phukchampa’s employees was injured during the incident, she said. Her staff was able to fend off the man as the woman sheltered in the restaurant.

That night was the first time the Noka Ramen staff had put on the costumes — a nod to the two-month-old restaurant’s signature cocktail, the Noka Ranger, which is served in a Power Ranger-themed tiki cup. The costumes were simply a way to have fun on the weekend as Halloween approached, Phukchampa explained, and each employee chose the color they wanted.

It was mostly laughs and smiles, Phukchampa said, until about 8:30 p.m., when the woman ran into the restaurant asking for help.

After the Yellow Ranger took the man outside, the man picked up chairs, baby seats, and salt and pepper shakers and threw them at the windows, Pirapokin wrote. The man then came back with another person and tried to reenter the restaurant, where they again confronted the costumed staff, she said.

“More swings are swung, more power rangers pile onto the men at the door to lock them out,” Pirapokin wrote.

The men eventually left. Phukchampa, the manager, said the man accused of chasing the woman was taken into custody.

Pirapokin credited the staff with showing tremendous power that night. “Knowing that people stepped in — in someone else’s moment of need, in a moment that could have easily been ignored — is what I think we all yearn for in these moments,” she said.

Phukchampa said her employees tried their best to handle the incident without reacting too aggressively. In the days since, she said, they have reflected on how they could more peacefully handle such incidents in the future.

“If you get physical with a person that already wants to get physical with you,” she said, “nothing will come out good.”

Loading...