What to Know
- The NYPD is getting more backlash after a viral video showed officers removing a woman selling churros from a subway station
- In response, the NYPD transit police say the woman was not arrested, but she was given a summons for selling food with no license
- In October, the NYPD was also under fire after a video of officers pulling a gun on a 19-year-old fare evasion suspect went viral
The NYPD is facing backlash about overpolicing after a video posted on Twitter showed officers removing a woman selling churros from a subway station.
A bystander, Sofia Newman, recorded a woman, named Elsa, crying as at least four NYPD officers take away her churros cart at Broadway Junction on Saturday. "They were telling her that she could either give them her churro cart and receive a fine (one that she probably wouldn't have been able to afford), or that they would take her cart and arrest her," Newman wrote.
In response, the NYPD transit police say the woman was not arrested, but she was given a summons for selling food in the transit system without a license.
Tonight as I was leaving Broadway Junction, I saw three or four police officers (one of them was either a plainclothes cop or someone who worked at the station) gathered around a crying woman and her churro cart. Apparently, it illegal to sell food inside train stations. 1/? pic.twitter.com/sgQVvSHUik— Sofia B. Newman (@SofiaBNewman) November 9, 2019
"She’s received 10 summonses in the past 6 months- English & Spanish speaking officers spoke with her & when she refused to comply she was briefly cuffed, her property invoiced, and she was released from the Transit District," NYPD Transit wrote on Twitter.
The video of the woman has been seen more than 2.5 million times on Twitter, and with recent incidents involving cops and unnecessary, or violent, arrests, city officials and advocates are condemning the increased police presence in the subways.
"This kind of enforcement doesn't make anyone safer," New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer tweeted and raised questions about the hiring of 500 new transit police officers.
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City Council Speaker Corey Johnson also echoed Stringer, saying that police can keep the subway safe "without harming people just trying to earn a living."
Some New York City residents share similar sentiments, including Cindi Lopez who tells News 4 New York, the woman "was just trying to make a living...like everybody else." While others said they wouldn't have continued to sell the churros after receiving various summonses.
Supporters and city advocates gathered to rally in the woman's defense Monday afternoon at Junction Boulevard, where another woman selling churros in the station just happened to be taken into custody a few hours earlier. That woman had two past warrants regarding vending issues and must go before a judge.
Emotions ran high at the rally with protesters yelling at police -- furious about their actions regarding the subway churros seller.
Advocates came to Elsa's defense, saying even if she applied for a food vendor permit, she wouldn't get one since the city isn't issuing any more than teh 5,100 currently in use. Legislation to lift the ban is being considered at the city and state level.
However, a food vendor permit wouldn't allow someone to sell in the subways since the MTA has its own set of rules as to not impede the flow of commuter traffic.
The MTA bans the sell of food inside subway stations unless vendors have a permit. The NYPD says they have received numerous complaints of vendors without permits, prompting health concerns.
During the rally, advocates, including Newman, and elected officials demanded an end to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to hire new MTA police officers and refocus resources on other serious crimes instead of policing low-income food vendors.
A different woman was arrested Monday morning for selling churros at the Myrtle-Wycoff station in Brooklyn, the New York Daily News reported. Once again, the NYPD said she had two warrants for failing to appear in court for selling the fried treats without a license, according to the Daily News.
In October, the NYPD was also under fire after a video of officers pulling a gun on a 19-year-old fare evasion suspect was posted on social media.
Another incident caught on camera in the same week showed an NYPD officer punching a 15-year-old in the face amid a scuffle between two groups of teens and police.
The woman who recorded the incident says she is on a mission to help the vendor.