Crackdown on Churros Inside Subway Stations

Crackdown on Churros Inside Subway Stations
Elsa, the woman that was cuffed for selling churros, speaking at the rally. (Photo: Lloyd Mitchell)

CYPRESS HILLS – A woman was cuffed for selling churros at the Broadway Junction subway station on Friday. “She shouldn’t have been there,” Mayor Bill de Blasio says.

On November 8, a woman, who went by the name Elsa, was selling the popular fried-dough pastries as she has done for some time inside the subway station. In a video captured by Sofia Newman, a person just passing by, four cops are surrounding Elsa telling her to give up the cart and pay a fine or get arrested. Elsa can be seen pleading with the cops, crying, and talking in Spanish.

Newman asked the cops why they were taking her cart away. One of the cops responded, “It’s illegal to sell food inside the subway stations and we warned her multiple times and she doesn’t want to give it up.”

Newman then asked, “Can’t she just go outside and keep her stuff?” to which the cop replied, “No, no.”

According to Newman’s Tweets, the plainclothed cop kept rolling his eyes and said to Elsa, “I know you can speak in English.” Soon enough, they cuffed her and dragged her churro cart up the steps and out the station.

According to the NYPD Transit Twitter page, the woman was not arrested, rather she received a summons:

“She’s received 10 summonses in the past six months and both English & Spanish speaking officers spoke with her. When she still refused to comply, she was briefly cuffed, her property was invoiced, and she was released from the Transit District shortly thereafter with another summons. Our officers have been responding to [a] number of recent complaints of violations at this station, including the unlawful and unlicensed sale of food and other products.”

This incident came a week after the enormous Downtown Brooklyn protest against police brutality and having cops inside subway stations. At the rally last week, people protested Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan of adding 500 cops inside several subway stations in NYC to crackdown on farebeaters.

Elsa’s churro incident sparked a rally this afternoon outside the subway station where people held signs and showed their support for Elsa, including Senator Julia Salazar, Councilman Rafael Espinal and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

“Over-policing our subways isn’t going to solve anything,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said on Twitter. “We can keep the subway safe without harming people just trying to earn a living.”

“I want us to get to a day where that kind of action is not necessary,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a video regarding the churro incident. “I understand the facts. The facts are she was there multiple times and was told multiple times that’s not a place you can be and it’s against the law and it’s creating congestion and she shouldn’t have been there.”

State Senator Jessica Ramos responded to de Blasio and said, “Lifting the cap on vending permits is a small step towards fighting income inequality in our city and state, and ending the tale of two cities. Stop criminalizing honest work. Give her a permit and space to grow as an entrepreneur. Help me pass my bill, Bill.”

“LEAVE OUR MAMÁS AND ABUELITAS ALONE. This is the livelihood that raised so many of our families and we demand respect,” she said.

After de Blasio’s statement, many people took to Twitter to ask a simple question: How would de Blasio know what causes congestion inside subway stations if he doesn’t take the subway?

Shortly before the rally this afternoon, another churro vendor was photographed being handcuffed; this time, at the Myrtle Wyckoff station.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, who’s running for NYC mayor, had this to say: “Another incident that raises serious questions about the increased police presence in our subways. This kind of enforcement doesn’t make anyone safer.”

Council Member Rafael Espinal said this type of policing was unnecessary. “The level of enforcement used against this vendor was totally unnecessary and over the top. This should’ve been deescalated, not lead to an arrest. My office is located steps away from this station. We’ll be meeting with NYPD Transit to prevent this from happening again.”

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