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.”
Tonight as I was leaving Broadway Junction, I saw three or four police officers (one of them was either a plainclothes cop or someone who worked at the station) gathered around a crying woman and her churro cart. Apparently, it’s illegal to sell food inside train stations. 1/? pic.twitter.com/sgQVvSHUik
— Sofia B. Newman (@SofiaBNewman) November 9, 2019