Rejection for the arrest of a street vendor in the subway and a call to the Mayor to support informal merchants

In his campaign for mayor, Eric Adams gave his word that as president of the City of New York would help and defend informal traders, a good part of them, single mothers and immigrants, who make a living selling food and articles in the streets and train stations. But with pain and shame, María Falcón, street vendor from Brooklyn, 43, says it looks like the Mayor “forgot” his commitment to the union of workers like her.

The Ecuadorian mother, who sells chopped fruit and chocolates to survive in the Big Apple, was arrested and handcuffed last Friday for two NYPD copson a subway platform, in the Broadway Junction Station in Brooklyn as seen in a recorded video for his daughter, who went viral and has generated rejection.

The worker has a license, but not a sales permit, because New York City has not issued more than 40 years, and although recognizes that the MTA prohibits the sale of food wandering in stations and trains, he warns that “the situation is so difficult” that life is sought without harming anyone.

“It feels horrible that someone wants to earn an honest living and the police come, one of them Latino, and arrest me as if I were a criminal. I am poor people, but I am not stealing from anyone“, assured the Ecuadorian, originally from the province of Cañar, after revealing that one of the uniformed men handcuffed her and the other took care of her cart with the fruit she sells, while they took her handcuffed through the station to a cell, where she was held. for two hours.

The street vendor narrated that her pain was double that day. Not only was she arrested from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.They searched under the premise that “they had to make sure he had no weapons or drugs,” but they threw away his fruit, and they did not return the cart with which he works.

“The police first saw me and told me to go away. I really stopped selling and when she saw me sitting down after a while, he came to me and said: ‘I gave you a chance and you didn’t leave. Now you are going to go to the cell’, and he put handcuffs on me as if I were a criminal, when in that same station just a few days ago there was a stabbing and if they don’t catch those criminals, “said the mother of three daughters, a of them born in New York.

I am not doing crime. I’m not a bad person. This is my job, I told him, but the policeman took me to the cell and there he made me take out my sweater, he rummaged through everything, according to him, to see if I had anything. He cut my pants cord, my shoelaces. it was very humiliatingthe woman recalled. “Then their boss told me that he could go and that I have to appear in court on May 19. They threw away my mangoes, papaya, pineapple, a bit of watermelon, and some kiwis and strawberries that I had. And although I begged him to return my stroller so I could work, he told me: ‘we’re not going to give you anything. Here’s your apron,’ and he had me letting loose afterwards”.

‘We are not criminals’

María assures that she understands that the police are doing their job, but she asked to Mayor Adams that she find a way to allow mothers like her to be able to work on the trains and the streets without being persecuted as if they were criminals.

Mr. Mayor, we are not bad people. We do not harm anyone. We work honestly, I don’t get food stamps, but understand that right now there is no permanent job. Help us, please with a sales permit plan so that we are all better off. I don’t want to be running from the police. It was nice that you treated us like honest people and that you valued us”, added the street vendor, who had to buy another cart for $89 dollars and new implements to be able to continue working.

We are not criminals. Criminals and thieves are the ones the police should go after and not focus on us“, added the worker, mentioning sadly that it also hurt her that Mayor Adams did not come to her defense but instead endorsed the police actions against her.

We have to follow the rules”, was the initial response given by the president when questioned about María’s arrest. “Those officers met, they said, ‘You can’t do this here,’ there was a real compromise and the woman decided to do something different. We cannot have anything and everything goes in our city (…) We are evaluating to see exactly what happened and do the appropriate training “

The Mayor also added that allowing the sale of food without guarantees could represent a health risk. “That’s why there are rules in the subway system.”

María Falcón was arrested and handcuffed Friday at the Broadway Junction subway station.

This work needs to be formalized.

After the incident and the defense that the Mayor made of the arrest of the street vendor, activists and defenders of the street vendors showed their rejection and asked the president to take action to ensure that street workers are not subject to police persecution, and on the contrary their work is formalized and as many sales licenses and permits are issued as necessary.

No individual should be handcuffed and humiliated simply for selling fresh fruit To support his family. Like all of her mothers, Maria deserves to be treated with dignity. Like all small business owners, she deserves to have her profession respected, ”she assured the Street Vendors Coalition, of which the NYC Street Vendor project is a part. “It is time for the City to support this industry and create a path for street vendors to formalize their work and we look forward to working with Mayor Adams to reform this archaic and arbitrary system that discriminates against the street vending industry, an iconic part of New York City.”

In the letter, which included the voice of organizations such as New York Immigration Coalition, Council on American Islamic Relations NY, Community Service Society New York, Transportation Alternatives and Street Vendor Projectit was highlighted that arrests such as that of María Falcón is just one of several “appalling cases of open criminalization of street vendors” in the last year.

“Street vendors like Maria have every intention of following the rules, just like any other small business. Maria legally obtained her mobile food vendor license, passed the DOHMH food safety course, as required, and pays quarterly sales tax on her business,” the Coalition noted. “She tried very hard to get a mobile food vendor permit from the city, but was not allowed to receive one due to outdated and arbitrary limit on mobile food vendor permits. This is the central issue that Mayor Adams has yet to speak or address. There is a backlog of over 17,000 people who want to open their small businesses, but are being told no day in and day out.”

The State Senator Jessica Ramoswho has tried to get Albany to approve a piece of law that lifts the limits on the issuance of street vending permits and licenses, rejected the police action to which the Ecuadorian vendor was subjected and asked the Legislature to give the green light to his initiative , while criticizing the Mayor’s words.

“This response is a regression, Mayor. Most vendors are certified for food preparation by the Department of Health, because there is no limit on that type of license. However, there is a cap on sales permits, which results in a criminalization of how these workers earn a living,” said the senator of immigrant origin. “Concern for consumer safety is precisely what (project) S1175B solves. We make selling safer by issuing permits, not arresting sellers. This needs a regulatory solution, not a police response. Understanding the details of the works in this city is a necessary part of knowing how to manage them.”

The City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams joined the voices of protest for the way in which the NYPD officers acted with the vendor, and his office warned that this type of measure that criminalizes workers does not help with security.

After the arrest, María Falcón returned to street vending, because she says that if she doesn’t, she won’t survive.

“Public safety is not advanced when New Yorkers in search of economic opportunity through the sale of fruit are criminalized and unnecessarily go through the criminal justice system. Overreliance on these ongoing responses only undermines the health and safety of communities,” said a spokesperson for the president of the municipal legislature.

After knowing the concerns and the call of the Street Vendors Coalition to promote solutions that help formalize the work of street vendors and avoid police actions, the Mayor Adams Administration He warned that the president remains committed to defending and helping street vendors.

“Mayor Adams has been a clear and consistent advocate to ensure that street vendors, many of whom are immigrant New Yorkers, can fairly and legally participate in the local economy. That is why his ‘Plan for the Economic Recovery of New York City’ calls for expanding legal entrepreneurship opportunities for street vendors“said a spokesman for the Mayor. “The Administration will continue to push for innovative policies that address the unique needs of immigrant entrepreneurs and build an equitable recovery.”

about the arrest of Maria Falconthe spokesman recalled that MTA regulations prohibit vending in the subway, and that the increase in peddler licenses has nothing to do with the underground vending regulations.

They also revealed that there will be an upcoming announcement from the Street Vendors Advisory Board that will address some of the clamor from worker advocates.

The nypd cop For his part, he assured that the vendor received a warning on April 5, where he was issued a citation for selling in the subway, and refused to stop selling in the place “after multiple warnings.”

Maria says that for now she has no choice but to continue selling her fruit. If she doesn’t, she won’t be able to raise the rent and feed her family. “I have to keep working. i need to survive“, Said the vendor this Tuesday with some concern, but a positive attitude, while fixing her pink apron, standing next to her new cart, and hoping that the police will not arrest her again.