Street Vendor Project 666 Broadway, 5th Floor New York, NY 10012 Fall 2004 (646) 602-5679 or (646) 602-5681

Vendors Fight $1,000 Fines
Board of Advisors Mustapha Cisse Prokash Das Gupta Md. Anwar Hussain Mohammad El-Madaawy Sophia Laskaris Angelo Vega Michael Wells Jiean Weychu Janis Collado Project Organizer Judi Mukarhinda Project Director Sean Basinski Volunteers David Chang Matt Furshong Sara Sluszka Maxine Spencer Anna Tkacheva

The street vending community scored a historic victory on September 28th, when Supreme Court Jsc C rl d edoe und h Ct s 03 ute a E m a vr re t i ’20 i o t e y fine increase against vendors, finding the increase “nesnb , na ,n c a y ne or i . ur oal uf rad l r udm c t” a e i el ac She reduced the fines, just days before many li-

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censes were about to expire, from a maximum of $1,000 to a maximum of $250, and ordered the city not to deny licenses based on failure to pay the illegal fines. Vendors packed the courtroom and cheered as the judge delivered her verdict. The Street Vendor Project filed the lawsuit in A gs a e l ri t th cysor l f e uut f re n g h t i ’fuf d i ,t a n a e t o n increase was done without publishing it in the City Record or holding a public hearing, which are required by law. The stars of the hearing were the vendors, including the named plaintiffs, who all testified. Moussa Ousmane, a watch vendor downtown, testified about how the $1,000 fines were devastating his ability to support his wife and eight children. Antonia Delgado, who used to vend on Liberty Street, spoke of how the fear of fines was keeping her from working. Hot dog vendor Mohammed Ali spoke of how he received a $1,000 fine for having his license in his pocket instead of around his neck. After so many years of losing, some vendors w r ntue e a w nSi C e h i e“ e o sr w hd o. a hi Cs ,I e d k s

t uh w ’ nvr aet pw roba t h gt e ee hv h o e t eth o d e e cyi t t i l eh . t k a” Within days of the dramatic victory, every vendor with a $1,000 fine on his record had it reduced to $250. Lower fines were also reduced accordingly; the total reduction has been estimated at $1 million. While bills were reduced, the city is refusing to send refunds to vendors who already paid. The matter is still in the courts. Hopefully, everyone who paid their fines will get refunds soon. In the meantime, thanks to everyone for coming to the courthouse. It was an unforgettable experience, and a few eyes must have gotten t r w e t j g si t tw at cy i e y hn h u e a h “ hth i d a e d d a e t d does not facilitate access to what is sold every day and on every commercial as the American dem Y ucnt u iothr i t a ad r . o a’ptt u t e n h i n a e e r nti bh d t Tur od w r nvrpo l e ei i re w rs e ee so v n . ” e ken. Vendor power.

What Next? Fine Update
Despite the court victory, the battle over the $1,000 vending fines continues. On November 18, the ECB held a hearing to gather public input on the whether $1,000 fines should still be imposed. More than 130 vendors filled the auditorium on Worth Street, and dozens of vendors spoke into the night about how the increased fines were unreasonable. As Amadou Lam, a general vendor, reminded the panel, “ ed n o lh v f e t p yw h v k s w o ’ n ae i s o a; e ae i t y n d t fe . o ed ” Not one person spoke in favor of raising the fines. The great turnout was covered by NY One, Channel 4, the Post, and the Daily News. After the hearing, the ECB voted to postpone its decision until February, when it will hold another hearing on the matter. Please call to help prepare for this hearing and spread the word to other vendors. Despite our victory, we must continue this fight.

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Member Profile: Cesar Abreu
My name is Cesar, and I sell cellular accessories in Washington Heights. I came to the US in 1969, when I was 18 and the political situation in the Dominican Republic started to get worse. In my country, I was involved in farming. My father had his own farm, and I often helped him with his business. At the same time, I had developed an interest in political activism. I enrolled at the New York Technical College to receive a degree in Environmental Nursery, and I was looking for a way to pay for my education. As a result I became a cab driver. For thirteen years I drove around is when I became a street venNew York, which allowed me dor. to learn a lot about the city. I still remember my first After being a driver, I day as a vendor, three years worked at a tree nursery in ago. I knew a Peruvian guy Long Island for who sold elecseven yea r s. tric drills in That job I parthe neighborticularly enjoyed: hood. He I felt as if I was seemed to be going back to my doing rather roots, especially well, so I desince I was once cided to folagain doing what low his exammy father had ple. I got two devoted himself box es of to. However, at a drills, set up a certain point I table on the realized that I sidewalk, and wanted to have Photo: Paul Margolis was waiting more independence. That for a first customer. Before I had anything sold, police came over and arrested me for vending illegally in the streets. After fourteen hours in Criminal Court and one day of community service, I was finally able to go back home. I like being a vendor. It gives me a certain freedom and independence that other jobs failed to provide me with. I can work for as many hours as I want; my schedule is always flexible. Most importantly, I have more time to spend with my family, especially with my granddaughter. I have been a member of the Project since the bg n g adI vr pod ei i , n ’ e ru nn m y of what we are doing.

VnoAr t aW ny edrr s d t ed’ ee s
Wh en h an dbag ven d or Mohamend Ali ordered a spicy ci e s d i f m Wed’ hc n a wc r k n h o nys one afternoon in November, he did not expect to be arrested for unlicensed vending and insulted with racist slurs by two police officers. He expected to get a chicken sandwich. He had just turned away from the counter when he saw through the window the officers court, and Ali has filed a CCRB rummaging through his merchan- complaint against the officers. In dise, which he had left neatly bun- the meantime, with help from dled on the sidewalk outside. When SVP, and after three days of runAli went to investigate, the police ning from precinct to precinct arrested him, seized his goods, and (and being told he could not used racist (to say the least) lan- have it back), Ali and his merguage, telling him he looked like a chandise were happily reunited m ne.T e dnt ae h r h outside the police warehouse in oky “ hy o’hv te i t g tsyht sy Aicr cy o a ta” as l or t. , , el Q en.“ edrpw r si ues V no o e ” a , d The charges were dismissed at Mohamend Ali.
From one of our sponsors:

Ali recovers his handbags

Legislative Reform: Update
Despite a busy 2004, the SVP continues to seek the legal reforms that are necessary to improve the lives of all street vendors. Our proposal, recently introduced as the Street Vendor Opportunity Bill, will do four things to benefit all segments of the vending community. First, it will remove the licensing cap to give food and general vendors an opportunity to work legally. Vendors want licenses, and rather than arresting vendors like criminals, the city should bring people into the system. Want to solve the problem of unlicensed vending? Give people licenses. Second, the bill will abolish the Vendor Review Panel and open up more streets by creating an objective standard, as is currently used for newsstands, for determining which streets will be closed to vending. Third, the bill will change the oppressive 20 foot rule to 10 feet when regular storefronts are involved, opening up many more spaces for vending. Fourth, the bill will lower the maximum fines and take the power to set fines away from ECB, which has abused that power. We are currently in talks with City Council members about this bill. Call to get involved with this process.

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● E BT kt C i es c ● E BA p a C p el s Street Vendor Project Membership Card ● S l Tx e a sa H l e p Expiration date: 9/15/05 ● Ci n l o r( me ae) r aC uts mi o css ● I B d e se a l r h) D a g ( smp ,i t e e g Ramirez, Odulio ● Vt iA n aE co s o n n u ll t n e ei ID No 00-119 666 Broadway, NY, NY10012 ● Fr i r &L e s R vct n oft e i ne eoai s eu c o ● L e s A pct n &R n w l i ne p lai s e e a c i o s ● N w l trf ri s ya) e s t (ut e e o me a e r ● Fe Dsoa lC mea n 3 f ta e aue re i sb a r a d 0 o tp me sr p e o ● H lwt fn P le o ln (C B Fr ,n moe e i i g oc C mp i C R ) omsa d r ! p hl i i at

DUES = $100 per year
New Longer Hours
Office now open until 9pm on Mondays
Call for details: 646-602-5681

Congrats to SVP member Godwin Ojofeitimi on his new website:
check out

2nd Tuesday of the month @ 7 pm
 

January 11, 2005  February 8, 2005   March 8, 2005 

Peddlers vs. Potted Plants
You may have noticed that the sidewalks are more congested these days. It is not just your imagination. They actually are. And it is not the fault of street vendors. The Street Vendor Project has kicked off a campaign vending that, with these planters, e ae o hr o o e ” against the proliferation of w hv n w e tg. While vendors bear no ill illegal planters, which seem to have taken over the side- will toward the shrubs themwalks of midtown and down- selves, the same cannot be said of many building owners, who intown Manhattan. Many buildings place the variably claim that the planters r h e o bati t n r e e r ic i planters there, without the a t r f “eu fao”o scry hy o p i h t” a a required permits, for the pur- “eui. T e cm ln t t the sidewalks are too congested pose of displacing vendors. “ a k do acyd to allow vending, while at the Wht i f i o n t w l ei”si vno A same time illegally placing 4 x 4 e i n a edr . v , d Davis, who is leading the foot concrete barriers on the pubcharge among a coalition of lic thoroughfare. The SVP is collecting illegal vnos “o m n set edr S . ay t e r s have already been closed to planter locations to present them to the Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over these sidewalk obstructions, and demand enforcement. We will also be attending Community Board hearings to speak out against these public nuisances. On Thursday, Jan 13th, we will be attending Community B adFv’ m en, hr or i s et g w e e i e they will be discussing the placement of planters at 641 Fifth Avenue. Please come to 227 W. 27th Street at 5 p.m. to help us with this fight.

The culprits

Street Vendor Project 666 Broadway, 5th Floor New York, NY 10012 (646) 602-5679 (646) 602-5681

id i ar hs•sc lh n e n id li t oi ca g vu g a

The Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice Center is a membership based non-profit organization founded in October 2001 to provide legal representation, advocacy and grassroots organizing support to street vendors of all kinds in New York City. For more info, go to On the streets, in the parks, vendor power.

giving the vendors their required daily breaks; by requiring them to pay for tickets that w r t cm ay f l ad e h o pn’ a t n e e s u; by deducting from their payFood vendors in Central unpaid overtime. The Street check when the vendors had Park won a big victory in Vendor Project, which first items stolen from them. November against the em- discovered the abuse in 2002, The illegal actions by ployer who had been under- brought it to the attention of M&T, who also verbally and h tre G nr ’ fc, e o as i paying and abusing them t At ny ee l ofe physically abused the vendors, for years, M&T Pretzel. In which prosecuted the case and fired the most outspoken the settlement, reached be- against M&T. among them, hit the vending The investigation found community especially hard between the company and the Sa At ny G nr ’ that the vendors worked as cause the company was founded te tre t o ee l as office, between 50 and 100 much as 80 hours per week by a former vendor. Themistokvendors, most of them from for as little as $60 per day, lis Makkos immigrated from Bangladesh, will share which is illegal. In addition, Greece in 1974 and, after vend$450,000 in back wages and M&T broke the law by not ing from his own cart on the

$450,000 for Central Park Vendors

street, eventually bid on many spots in prime park locations. Any vendors who worked for M&T in Central Park should call the office at (646) 602-5679 for a claim form to send to the Attorney G nr ’ofe ee l fc. as i

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