- Pageant organizers said that the viral fight and rumors have overshadowed the hard work of the 14 young women who competed in the pageant.
Miss Sri Lanka New York Angelia Gunasekara has denied the involvement of any contestants in a brawl that ensued at an afterparty following the Oct. 21 inaugural pageant held at The Vanderbilt in the South Beach section of Staten Island, New York.
“It’s very upsetting to see articles written about us saying that this altercation had happened because we were fighting for the crown because there were boyfriends involved and I was fighting,” she said in a video posted on Facebook. “All these rumors are false.”
The now-viral video, posted on social media and on multiple news sites, appears to show a large group of well-dressed people shouting loudly before a man throws an object that lands near a woman’s feet. The verbal altercation then becomes physical as some men jostle with one another before falling to the ground. Bystanders can be seen attempting to break up the fight as punches are thrown. Glass can be heard shattering in the background as well.
Sujani Fernando, one of the pageant organizers told the New York Post that the viral fight and rumors have overshadowed the hard work of the 14 young women who competed in the pageant. “It’s very sad to see,” he told the paper. “The girls were so happy. You should see the effort, you should see the time they put into this, but they didn’t get a single minute to enjoy it.”
Fernando said that the pageant aims to help “young women realize their full potential and become role models for future generations,” and served as a fundraiser for Sri Lankan hospitals.“We have the biggest Sri Lankan community here so we thought we should do something…Sri Lanka is not in a very good situation at the moment. We thought we have to do something for the community and the girls here. To bring their talent, to bring some exposure for them. Meanwhile, collect something and send it back to Sri Lanka.”
Responding to the criticism on social media Fernando disputed the stereotype. “Sri Lankans are good people,” she told the Post. “It’s just a fight — fights happen, kids fight. That happens in any culture, any nationality, it doesn’t have to be Sri Lankans. We’re not that type of people.”