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GoFundMe Launched to Raise Funds for Churro Vendor to Cover Lost Wages, Fines and Lost Food

Churro vendor Elsa before being handcuffed by police (Twitter @sofiabnewman)

Nov. 19, 2019 By Kristen Torres

A new fundraiser has been set up to recoup losses for the churro vendor whose handcuffing went viral last week.

Sofia Newman was exiting the turnstiles at the Broadway Junction MTA station when she noticed a woman and her churro cart surrounded by police officers. She videotaped the entire event.

“We’ve been aware that especially since Cuomo has signed on more police officers to patrol the MTA, they have been policing poverty and targeting poor people of color,” Newman told the Jackson Heights Post. “The whole situation was a red flag to me.”

Dubbed “The Elsa Fund,” the GoFundMe aims to raise $20,000 to financially support the churro vendor, Elsa, and others like her who have been ticketed for selling food and merchandise in MTA stations. Since it launched three days ago, more than $2,000 has been raised.

“What concerned me was the fact that there were four police officers surrounding one woman,” Newman said. “What concerned me was that she was crying, and they had their hands on her cart.”

The new GoFundMe page was set up in partnership with the Urban Justice Center’s Street Vendor Project, alongside Newman.

Five thousand dollars will go to Elsa to recover her lost wages, cost of food, fines and her confiscated carts. The rest will be distributed to vendors who have fallen in similar circumstances, according to the page.

“They are criminalized for vending without a permit, without being given an avenue to receive one,” the fundraising page says.

The city currently caps the amount of vending licenses it issues, and operates on a wait list.

But State Senator Jessica Ramos — who represents large areas of Queens, including Jackson Heights — is attempting to push through a bill that would lift the cap on street vendors.

“My hope is that the GoFundMe becomes a resource while politicians like Ramos fight for a lift on the cap,” Newman said.

“The Elsa Fund” is just one of the fundraising pages to be created since Elsa’s arrest earlier this month.

Another GoFundMe page, called “Subway Churros Ain’t Going Nowhere,” has already raised over $2,000.

“If they won’t let churro vendors sell the churros, we are going to buy the churros, and let the vendors give them away,” reads the fundraising page. “NYC Subway Churros ain’t going nowhere.”

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34 Comments

Iain M

Selling unregulated food in a dangerous environment like an MTA subway station is not something that should be allowed. I’m sorry the vendor was embarrassed like this, and it’s horrible to think that poverty drives people to make these kinds of choices but what happens when customers are made sick, or trip over her cart during a crazy rush hour? Who compensates for that? We should overhaul the vendor licensing law but we should not apologize for upholding current laws designed to keep commuters and food patrons safe.

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Follow the rules.

Exactly. It also clearly states to not do it without a permit. She was served with fines countless times and still hasn’t learned how to do this legally.

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Hard working immigrant

was churro lady forcing anyone to eat her food? American freedom = freedom of choice! Your attitude would fit really well in a country ruled by Putin. USSR used to regulate everything and “care” so much about their citizens.

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Harris Milstead

I am highly pleased our vocal advocates raised 2k. Our Socialist comrades have been so generous . What individual would eat from a dirty unlicensed vendor that isn’t monitored by the dept of health?

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Jim Giannone legends bar

Is she legal herself?
Is there going to be a go fund me for the taxes she avoided.

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Not paying taxes makes you smart like Trump

I can’t believe you’re saying our president was wrong for committing over $500 million in tax fraud. You must be a socialist.

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Getting paid

Step 1 . Break the law & get arrested.
Step 2 . Claim you’re a victim of the police.
Step 3. Get money

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Colin Ahearn

Jessica Ramos, Daniel Dromm, Cruz & A.O.C do nothing for the law abiding people of Jackson Heights. Why do we keep voting these clowns into power. They care more about illegal immigrants, prostitutes, street vendors and generally those that break the law. Shame on them.

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TC on 32.

It’s not a free for all , there are rules , follow them , pay the fare & follow the rules.
The subways are just chaos people do whatever they want there ,smoke , sell , fight, urinate anything and everything.

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Alex

I am sorry Jessica WHO? I do understand you need money but people should abide the laws. Dont come from your home country thinking that is the same and you can do anything as you please which is basically what is happening. You come here, you Adjust and follow the rules.

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Alex

If the current law states that you need a license but basically there are no available licenses and you have mouths to feed, you are just going to let your kids stay hungry?

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VVNY

There is plenty of other work. Freedom comes from the enforcement of laws, because the laws protect everyone. If everyone starts going this path that “if a law is too much for me to comply with then I will do whatever I want“ then the chaos ensues and it becomes no better place than the countries the immigrants come from.

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Alex

“There is plenty of other work”.
You dont know whether she has attempted to work in other jobs. Jobs may be available for you but perhaps not for her. There is a limited supply of low experience jobs.

Sure we should abide by the laws, but clearly the laws arent fair:

“Obtaining a permit to operate as a food vendor remains a difficult process, with the city health department capping the number of available licenses to 4,000, according to the New York Daily News.

That cap has been in place since 1983, and forces many vendors to pay more than $10,000 on the black market to obtain a license to sell food.”

Sure, I bet there will be chaos if we have a churro lady at every train station. The Big Corporate Churro industry will crumble if we allow these churro ladies to sell their delicious fried dough.

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Legal U.S. Citizen

If this woman wasn’t an illegal alien, and came here the right way, she could have a good paying job. I don’t feel sorry for her. She put herself in this situation. Who wants to eat food that has been exposed to all the germs and filth on the subway anyway.

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Alexis L Solorzano

If the current law states that you need a license but basically there are no available licenses and you have mouths to feed, you are just going to let your kids stay hungry?

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Pat Macnamara

Why have kids if you have no means to support them? Get a real job. Stop breaking the law. if she making that much bank every day? Go work at McDonald’s then

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Alex

“Get a real job”

Wow, why didnt you say so? why didnt I think about that?

Jobs may be easily available for you but that doesnt mean its just as availble to her. I rarely see older McDonald’s workers. My partner used to work there and they would mostly hire younger adults. There is a limited supply of low experience “real” jobs.

Sure we should abide by the laws, but clearly the laws arent fair:

“Obtaining a permit to operate as a food vendor remains a difficult process, with the city health department capping the number of available licenses to 4,000, according to the New York Daily News.

That cap has been in place since 1983, and forces many vendors to pay more than $10,000 on the black market to obtain a license to sell food.”

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Common sense

Alexis, if I want to start a yellow taxi business to feed my family and I cannot get a medallion, can I just paint my car yellow and start picking up and dropping off passengers? Laws are there for a reason because it helps with reducing chaos in a big city.

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Alex

Oh yeah, selling fried dough from a hand cart is totally the same as transporting people wihtout a proper taxi medallion.

Sure we should abide by the laws, but clearly the laws arent fair:

“Obtaining a permit to operate as a food vendor remains a difficult process, with the city health department capping the number of available licenses to 4,000, according to the New York Daily News.

That cap has been in place since 1983, and forces many vendors to pay more than $10,000 on the black market to obtain a license to sell food.”

Sure, I bet there will be chaos if we have a churro lady at every train station. The Big Corporate Churro industry will crumble if we allow these churro ladies to sell their delicious fried dough.

Regarding your with taxi medallion analogy, these little chunks of metal have been severely overcharged and have been heavily abused and have sent hundreds of taxi drivers and their families to bankruptcy. People have had their lives ruined because they have to buy a medallion in order to work “as the law requires”.

Just because its the law, doesnt mean it’s right.

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🗣

Jessica Ramos, Daniel Dromm, Cruz & A.O.C do nothing to make Jackson Heights better or safer .
But they were quick to make promises and nice campaign speeches before the elections.

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Anonymous

Jessica Ramos needs to focus on the crime in the area . She is so out of touch with what is going on in Jackson Heights,

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👤

If you break the law you will get arrested not rewarded . Everybody complains about the police not doing their job , but when the NYPD does something they’re label racist and it’s police brutality and everyone is a victim of some grand conspiracy.

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Stew Gotts.

Break the law you go to jail that’s how it works. Jessica Ramos does the opposite. Why is she in office ?

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Mac

Maybe some of the funds received should go toward civic courses so this woman could learn to respect the laws of the country she is living in.

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Alex

If the current law states that you need a license but basically there are no available licenses and you have mouths to feed, you are just going to let your kids stay hungry?

Reply

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