Friday’s arrest of a churro vendor is becoming a flash point in the conversations about ramped-up subway policing and food vendors. On Monday, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio commented lamely on the controversy, saying that “it’s against the law and it’s creating congestion and she shouldn’t have been there.” This is the sort of strong leadership that made him such a compelling presidential candidate. (Also, just how thriving and sprawling of a churro operation do you have to be running to cause congestion at a subway station as big as Broadway Junction, the stop where the woman was working?)
Activists gathered outside the stop to protest the arrest on Monday — and another vendor was arrested for selling churros, this time at the Myrtle-Wyckoff stop. According to the NYPD, this vendor was warned and told to leave the station. When officers went to issue her a summons, they found she had two open warrants and brought her to court. However, the New York Daily News reports that she had to stay in jail overnight as there was no judge present because of Veterans Day.
At a press conference outside Broadway Junction in East New York, Gothamist reports, the first vendor, who had provided only her first name, Elsa, said she had been selling churros both in and around the station for the past three years. The website reports her saying the cops had “never been so violent” with her.
Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to expand the number of police officers patrolling the subway from 2,500 to 3,000 individuals, despite the fact that crime is down. (The New York Times reported this month that Cuomo claims “there has been a dramatic increase in crime in the subway system,” but the number of felonies is down according to, yes, the NYPD.) The plan will cost the MTA another $50 million a year, while the subway system continues to crumble under outdated technology, a lack of funding, and an MTA budget deficit of $1 billion. While Cuomo declined to comment to reporters about the Friday arrest, saying he didn’t know any of the details of the case, his spokesperson tells Gothamist the crackdown should not extend to the scourge of people, uh, selling churros.