Letter: City, state reps. demand mayor remove NYPD from street vending

To the Editor,

The following open letter was sent to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Deputy Mayor J. Philip Thompson, Deputy Mayor Vicki Been, Commissioner of Small Business Services Jonnel Doris and Commissioner of Community Affairs Roberto Perez on July 23.

We are writing in response to the recent NYPD crackdown on street vendors, New York City’s smallest businesses, on Fordham Road in the Bronx.

For too long, street vendors have been treated like criminals by police, when in reality these are small businesses run primarily by immigrants, women and people of color, that feed our communities, contribute to the local economy, and enrich the culture of our city. Like other small businesses, vendors have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are appalled by your decision to send the New York Police Department to harass the hard working entrepreneurs on Fordham Road on Wednesday, July 21, going back on your statement in June 2020 that NYPD would no longer be involved in street vending. How can you honor vendors as essential workers in the Hometown Heroes Parade, and now send officers to harass them for providing an essential service?

You cannot continue a vending system that is inherently inequitable and then rain down police to enforce it. For decades, vendors have been forced to work excluded from the formal economy, subject to antiquated regulation spurred by larger business interests, and unable to access the business licensing they so desperately need. The only thing accomplished by calling for punitive enforcement on unlicensed street vendors is the reinforcement of a system that criminalizes poverty, rather than supporting entrepreneurship so desperately needed to stimulate the economy.

Neighborhoods with a strong small business community that include vendors as well as brick-and-mortar businesses are the foundation of a successful and vibrant commercial corridor, and fueling division only hurts our city’s recovery. Now that some New Yorkers have turned to vending because of the pandemic, the city should do more to encourage this entrepreneurship, rather than viewing it as a “quality of life” problem that needs NYPD enforcement.

Mayor de Blasio, we call on you to keep your word to our city’s essential workers and ensure the NYPD is no longer involved in street vendor enforcement.

New York State Senate

Jessica Ramos, District 13

Jabari Brisport, District 25

Robert Jackson, District 31

Gustavo Rivera, District 33

Alessandra Biaggi, District 34

 

New York State Assembly 

Khaleel Anderson, District 31

Jessica González-Rojas, District 34

Diana Richardson, District 43

Robert Carroll, District 44

Catalina Cruz, District 39

Emily Gallagher, District 50

Marcela Mitaynes, District 51

Harvey Epstein, District 74

Yuh-Line Niou, District 65

Jose Rivera, District 78

Kenny Burgos, District 85

 

New York City Council 

Margaret Chin, District 1

Helen Rosenthal, District 6

Diana Ayala, District 8

Jimmy Van Bramer, District 26

Antonio Reynoso, District 34

Carlos Menchaca, District 38

Brad Lander, District 39

 

Organizations

161st Street Business Improvement District

City Workers for Justice

Food Chain Workers Alliance

Immigration Advocates Network

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice

Laundry Workers Center

Make the Road New York

National Day Laborer Organizing Network

New York Communities for Change

New York City Artist Coalition

New York Immigration Coalition

Queens Mutual Aid Network

Queens Neighborhoods United

Street Vendor Project, Urban Justice Center

Transportation Alternatives

The Riders Alliance”

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