NEW YORK (PIX11) — A mom headed out to work on Mother’s Day — just over a week after she was handcuffed for selling mangoes and kiwis in a subway station — because she cannot stop working.
Video shows Maria Falcon in handcuffs as officers walk her through the Broadway Junction subway station on April 29. She shared the video with The Street Vendor Project, an advocacy organization for street vendors.
“Shame on our city for choosing cruelty, instead of supporting hardworking mothers,” the Street Vendor Project tweeted when sharing the video.
Falcon, an immigrant, has a food vendor license, according to the Street Vendor Project. She’s served her customers for more than 10 years. Falcon does not have a permit to vend; those permits can be near impossible to obtain. There’s even an underground market where permits can go for up to $20,000 each.
Falcon was held for about two hours after she was handcuffed. She said police threw her fruits and chocolate in the trash, then gave her a property voucher to reclaim her cutting board, cart and other non-perishable materials.
“Maria was very traumatized by the experience – during the two hours she was detained, she was searched, and forced to wait without shoes and a jacket while they ‘processed’ her,” a Street Vendor Project spokesperson said. “She took a few days off to rest and recover from her ordeal but is back out vending today, Mother’s Day, because she cannot stop working.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the incident was sparked by “having police respond whenever, wherever issues arise.”
“NYC has said police shouldn’t enforce against street vendors, creating a new office to prevent it,” he tweeted. “Maria should be able to feed her neighbors & support her family—on Mothers Day!—without fear of police.”
A police spokesperson said there have been multiple operations in and around the station because of repeated complaints from the MTA station manager. The NYPD, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and the Parks Department have all been involved in the operations.
“This same vendor was issued a summons on April 5th and has refused to stop vending at the location after multiple warnings,” an NYPD spokesperson said. “The individual was issued a summons for unlicensed general vending on April 29th and was released.”