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Street Vendors Rally Against Cuomo’s Plan to Add 500 Transit Cops

(Riders Alliance)

Nov. 11, 2019 By Allie Griffin

Transit riders, street vendors and elected officials held a rally Monday criticizing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to add 500 law enforcement officers to the MTA police force.

The rally was held at the Broadway Junction subway station in Brooklyn, the location where a churro vendor was detained by several police officers on Friday night in an incident that was caught on video and went viral.

The protesters called on Cuomo to drop his plan to boost MTA enforcement in the city’s subways. Instead, they demanded the governor spend the funds to improve bus and subway service and create opportunities for vendors to work free from harassment.

They also criticized recent policing practices, arguing that cops are being too harsh on impoverished vendors. They pointed to Friday night’s incident involving Elsa, who was put in handcuffs for selling churros.

“The increased surveillance and police enforcement of the subway has turned it into a battleground for criminalizing poverty and demeaning low-income New Yorkers,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi. “We must invest our resources into repairing our broken transit system and growing the prosperity of our communities — not the policing of low-income riders and New Yorkers trying to make a living.”

Rally-goers demanded that existing subway enforcement focus on serious crime, as opposed to criminalizing low-income food vendors and targeting fare evaders.

The churro vendor attended the rally. She was captured crying in the video posted to Twitter and was issued a summons by police that night for unlicensed vending.

The sale of food in the subway is banned unless authorized by the MTA. A NYPD spokesperson said she has been issued with 10 summonses in the past six months for unlicensed vending.

Cuomo’s proposal to ramp up MTA enforcement is meant to address fare evasion and “quality of life” crimes. Critics have said the measures unfairly target low-income New Yorkers who struggle to pay the $2.75 subway/bus fare and those who work as street vendors for money. They argue that the MTA’s stretched budget would be better spent on service.

Many advocates pointed to the MTA’s own crime statistics that show public transit crimes have decreased. “Subway crime is very low and falling. More cops will bust the MTA’s budget and hurt vulnerable populations including low-income vendors like Elsa,” said Riders Alliance Community Organizer Danna Dennis.

“Governor Cuomo needs to focus on the MTA’s core services and spend riders’ money on subway and bus frequency not over-policing public transit.”

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She shouldn't pay taxes

Not paying taxes “makes you smart” like Trump said.

By cheating tax law she’s honoring our president.

big difference

using legal loopholes to lower your tax burden makes you smart….not paying taxes at all on gains from an illegal business is a felony which makes you a criminal

Agreed, when billionaires commit tax fraud it's ok

Wow you’re REALLY out of the loop.

Trump filed tax returns for valuations his properties far below what independent estimates would suggest.

Fred and Mary Trump passed down over $1 billion in wealth to their children, for which they paid only $52.2 million in taxes.

The 55 percent tax rate on gifts and inheritances of that size would have racked up a tax bill of AT LEAST $550 million.

Knowing not that you don’t know a single fact about it explains why you could be so wrong. You really thought Trump’s tax fraud was just “using legal loopholes to lower your tax burden?!” Sad!

I wonder why he’s the first president ever who’s afraid to show his tax returns?
What do you think costs society more? One churro grandma not reporting the $7 she makes a day? Or a billionaire not paying any taxes? Wow, you’re so gullible.

grow up

Trump pays an accounting firm millions of dollars to make sure his taxes are squeaky clean….he has not released them because he is under an audit from the IRS….He has committed no crime…Fred and Mary Trump are not Donald Trump….more fake news….see you at the polls!!! LOL

Trump stole $500 million from tax payers in tax fraud

Accounting firm? He outright committed fraud. Are you just completely misinformed, or just REALLY gullible?

To be fair, we can look at his tax returns and decide for ourselves. Oh wait, he’s hiding them. Probably because they’re so legal…

Jimmy legends

Arrest the churro lady. Lock her up. I own a bar, i have to pay a mortgage, i dont get anything. I have to pay the fines from the health department. I have to pay taxes this lady can operate illegally, get summonses, and keep operating. If i get these summonses like her ill be closed down. I have to depend on the 4 rents i get upstairs in my 2 apartments. But the churro lady can get away with this?

Jimmy cries i have no bread, but hes got 2 hams under each arm

Hes a slumlord, thats why the bars a mess. Filthy. A lot of trouble. Fights,overserved customers. The apartments upstairs should be condemned. They havent been upgraded since the 1950s. Theres rats. Its disgusting. And hes complaining.


I come down the middle here. The Officer’s are just doing their job enforcing the regulations. We, the taxpayers of this city, pay them to perform their duties ethically and responsibly. They don’t make the rules. If anything, the MTA or the City Council can change the ban regarding food vendors selling without a license in the system. Send off emails to them. On the other hand, it’s not like churros are illegal drugs being sold on MTA property. The severity of confiscating her livelihood was a bit overreacting by the police. A simple warning would have sufficed in my opinion. Besides, who was this woman hurting? No one.

no choice

when they ran her name thru the system she had multiple outstanding warrants for her arrest….the police were obligated to arrest her…no racism or oppression to see here….keep moving along

Midnight Rider

Hey, Sofia Newman: do you even live here? There are laws about vendors. They cannot block egresses and there are safety/health issues. But this is a chance for you to show how swell you are, so what the hell? If you don’t like the law, change it instead of acting like a superior SJW.

Maluana Karenga

MTA police will take back the system. Move the NYPD out of there and backfill the police cars. Yes the mass retirements last yr and this is hush hush !! don’t let the public know that it will take over an hour for the cops to show up . MTA police will be able to do police work with the full backing of the authority . NYPD cops have that silly 1800 page patrol guide. Yep. The store front ministers and socialists cant manipulate what they do.


Law enforcement should focus on those guys urinating and harassing people on the subway. People just want to ride in peace.


I rather see those ladies selling churros than those kids dancing inside the subway cars with the loud music & and then harassing people for money


You should not have to deal with either group. They do not belong on the subway or in the stations.


Riders should not have to deal with ANY of it. It’s challenging enough to deal with crowded trains, delays, re-routings, etc. without the additional underground nonsense. I don’t need to be entertained or fed when I’m in the subway. I just want to get to where I’m going.

G Leon

We have laws that everyone should follow and taxes that we all should pay. Street vendors do not pay taxes and probably don’t have legal permits to work.

Sara Ross

Where the police are needed are on subway platforms and in subway cars to take care of people who are mentally ill (beggars and non-beggars) who yell at people and threaten them and even sometimes assault them! I was on the R train recently in the morning and this guy smacked a man in the head who was just standing by the door reading and then the mental moron got off at the next stop yelling. Vendors don’t hurt anybody – these people do.


Many vendors just set up shop in the middle of pedestrian thoroughfares causing safety hazards, just like the woman who sets up a table and shopping cart in the narrow tunnel at Grand Central, connecting the 7 train to the 4,5 and 6 trains, Lexington Ave line. Rules are on the books for a reason and need to be enforced. Have you tried squeezing into a already crowded subway cat when an illegal vendor comes in with shopping carts and tables? Not a pleasant experience. This life long Democrat supports the governors plan.

Gardens Watcher

Mac, At that same spot in Grand Central years ago, there used to be a woman dressed as a nun begging for money. Total scam. She was not a nun.

Selling food is another matter. Food safety is a health issue.


Vendors selling food in the subways are violating the law. Unlike licensed carts and restaurants, the cooks do not take a food safety course and their premises are not inspected or rated. Food safety: poor. They block movement in the subway too. Why defend this? The vendor would have been given a summons, except that she already had multiple summonses which she ignored. Unlicensed vendors should not be in the subway. It’s already a free-for-all.


Funny, there are about as many press there as there are protesters supporting “Churro Lady.” Yawn.

thank you NYPD

Another wanton criminal who disregards the law and tries to play the poverty card to demonize our police….she was given summonses on 10 separate occasions…time to clean this riff-raff up and take back our subway system…thank you also to Governor Cuomo….it is nice to see a politician enforcing our laws and putting law abiding tax paying citizens first

What would have happened if someone got a churro?!?!

Sure, they’ve been sold for decades, but churros could be DANGEROUS


How do you know somebody did not get salmonella? duh! The vendors need to be inspected.


why would anyone want to rally against safety ? Hopefully the extra 500 will help bring down crime in the subway , ie assault, robbery, people urinating, smoking. We need more police officers patrolling the platforms and train stations .


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