Street vendors and advocates slam bust of Bronx fruit stand town – Bronx Times


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Such a waste!

Advocates and politicians rallied to support a Bronx street vendor on Sunday, September 26, after city officials closed his stall last week and threw his fresh produce in the trash.

“I’ve been working here for five years now, in heat, cold, hail, snow, whatever,” salesperson Diana Hernandez said, through a translator. “I was very outraged the day they took my things because I thought it was very unfair that they did that.”

A viral video on Twitter, posted by advocacy group Street Vendor Project, showed sanitation workers taking crates full of strawberries, bananas and watermelons from the stall and throwing them in the back of their garbage truck, so as NYPD officers stood on the sidewalk of Pelham Parkway near White Plains Road on September 23.

The city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) came to inspect the stand, which Hernandez operates without a license, and officials from the agency and DSNY claimed she had abandoned the stand, they said. therefore removed the goods.

“This video shows a small part of an unfortunate situation, where abandoned material had to be disposed of for the safety of the community,” said DSNY spokesperson Joshua Goodman. “The Department of Sanitation is committed to our mission of keeping streets and neighborhoods safe, clean and healthy. “

Hernandez, however, claimed she was there the entire time, and can be seen standing next to a DSNY vehicle as workers throw in her fruit in one of the videos online.

“There is so much food insecurity in my community… it didn’t make sense to me and I was very upset,” she said. “I would have preferred that day to donate food while they were throwing it away, because it didn’t make sense for me to throw in the trash like that.”

The city should generally do everything possible not to throw food out and reuse it instead, according to city law, and the Department of Health must first certify that it is safe to eat.

A DCWP spokeswoman said there was an error in the agency’s protocol, which led to the destruction of the food.

“The results of this multi-agency sales app are not in line with city policies,” Abigail Lootens said in a statement. “DCWP and its sister agencies that assist with confiscations when necessary will work together to ensure this type of waste does not happen again. “

NYPD officers did not call to throw out the food, but were at the scene only to provide security, a police spokeswoman said.

“The inspection was initiated and coordinated by the DCWP due to the number of community complaints received by the DCWP over a period of time. The role of the NYPD during the joint inspection was to ensure site security and assist DCWP inspectors if necessary, ”Detective Denise Moroney said in a statement.

Hernandez estimates that she lost around $ 10,000 in produce to the bust, and elected officials have denounced the city’s harsh enforcement, especially the botched storage of food.

Public lawyer Jumaane Williams called the elimination of perfectly good food “unreasonable.”

“For city agencies, coordinating to throw away the amount of food that I have seen on the streets is out of the question, it is abhorrent,” Williams said. “New York City should be ashamed of itself. These fruits were gorgeous from what I saw in this video.

Public Counsel Jumaane Williams speaks on behalf of the seller in the Bronx on September 26. Photo Kevin Duggan

Thousands of unlicensed street vendors have struggled to obtain official permits as the city has effectively capped the amount with a long waiting list since the administration of Mayor Ed Koch in the 1980s.

A invoice 2019 to the state legislature by State Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) and Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas (D-Queens) would seek to lift this limit and make it easier to obtain a permit for street vendors, but the law has not budged out of committee in two years.

“Our neighbors are severely food insecure, and this is how the city is responding. Unacceptable, ”Ramos wrote on Twitter. “We need to adopt my invoice, S1175A, and #LegalizeStreetVending.”

Street vendors, many of whom are immigrants and low-income, are often opposed to brick-and-mortar stores, which see them as cuts to their business, but a new council member likely to represent the Bronx District l next year said residents should band together to overcome this conflict.

“We have to realize that these are our neighbors, that we are in the same boat,” said Democratic candidate for District 13 Council Marjorie Velázquez. “We are raised from their ashes, from the Bronx is burning, we won’t let lines like this divide us anymore.”

This story appears courtesy of our sister publication amNewYork.

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