Community leaders demand Mayor de Blasio Keep His Word and Remove NYPD From Street Vending

Photo credit: Martin Raab

On July 23, 2021 a group of city and state representatives alongside community-based organizations representing small businesses, immigrant worker rights, and public space accessibility advocates released a letter demanding the immediate removal of NYPD presence in street vending enforcement 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.

The letter comes in response to the Mayor’s call to the NYPD to remove street vendors from Fordham Road in the Bronx. The police removed vendors on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, in a reversal of the Mayor’s decision in June 2020 to transition street vending compliance away from the NYPD and over to the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.

The letter reads as follows:

“Mayor Bill de Blasio
Deputy Mayor J. Philip Thompson
Deputy Mayor Vicki Been
Commissioner of Small Business Services Jonnel Doris
Commissioner of Community Affairs Roberto Perez

July 23, 2021

Dear Honorable Mayor De Blasio, Deputy Mayor J. Philip Thompson, Deputy Mayor Vicki Been, Commissioner of Small Business Services Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of Community Affairs Roberto Perez,

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 morning, 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.


Jessica Ramos
State Senator, 13th Senate District

Jabari Brisport
State Senator, 25th District

Robert Jackson
State Senator, 31st District

Gustavo Rivera
State Senator, 33rd Senate District

Alessandra Biaggi
State Senator, 34th District

Khaleel Anderson
Member of Assembly, 31st District

Jessica González-Rojas
Member of Assembly, 34th District

Diana Richardson
Member of Assembly, 43rd District

Robert Carroll
Member of Assembly, 44th District

Catalina Cruz
Member of Assembly, 39th District

Emily Gallagher
Member of Assembly, 50th District

Marcela Mitaynes
Member of Assembly, 51st District

Harvey Epstein
Member of Assembly, 74th District

Yuh-Line Niou
Member of Assembly, 65th District

Jose Rivera
Member of Assembly, 78th District

Kenny Burgos
Member of Assembly, 85th District

Margaret Chin
Council Member, District 1

Helen Rosenthal
Council Member, District 6

Diana Ayala
Council Member, District 8

Jimmy Van Bramer
Council Member, District 26

Antonio Reynoso
Council Member, District 34

Carlos Menchaca
Council Member, District 38

Brad Lander
Council Member, District 39

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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