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.
State Senator, 13th Senate District
State Senator, 25th District
State Senator, 31st District
State Senator, 33rd Senate District
State Senator, 34th District
Member of Assembly, 31st District
Member of Assembly, 34th District
Member of Assembly, 43rd District
Member of Assembly, 44th District
Member of Assembly, 39th District
Member of Assembly, 50th District
Member of Assembly, 51st District
Member of Assembly, 74th District
Member of Assembly, 65th District
Member of Assembly, 78th District
Member of Assembly, 85th District
Council Member, District 1
Council Member, District 6
Council Member, District 8
Jimmy Van Bramer
Council Member, District 26
Council Member, District 34
Council Member, District 38
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
The Riders Alliance”