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Video of churro vendor arrest sparks outrage

Posted: 6:26 PM, Nov 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-11 22:38:48-05

While it is illegal to sell or distribute food in the subway system, there’s a bigger question being asked throughout the city: Was Elsa the churro vendor’s arrest over-policing and were the cuffs necessary?

And did they have to take away her hand-made goods she was trying to sell to provide for her family?

“I feel horrible, very nervous, stressed, absolutely devastating,” Elsa said Monday.

The  video has gone viral. Elsa was in tears Monday, just three-days after she says she was singled-out, cuffed and shamed, simply for selling hand-made pastries in the subway to provide for her family.

“The interaction became very aggressive and violent and they grabbed the cart from her,” said Sofia Newman, the commuter who took the cell-phone video, which has gotten millions of views, and the attention of many who are now calling it an example of over policing and unnecessary crackdown on people of color.

“The way they were treating her was unfair.”

The video shows four NYPD officers handcuffing Elsa at the Broadway Junction subway station in Brooklyn Friday. They then confiscate her cart with the food she was trying to sell, dragging it out off the station. She could be seen crying and pleading with them in Spanish.

Police say she was instructed in both English and Spanish that she would be issued a summons and her property would be taken as evidence and she refused, adding there were numerous complaints and she was issued multiple summonses this year.

They city capped the number of food vendor permits at 4,000 decades ago, so New Yorkers like Elsa can’t even apply for one.  Local leaders say that needs to change.

The commuter who took the video says she is going to do all she can to help Elsa to pay past fines she incurred and for the churros she lost during the arrest. Local leaders and advocates are also now calling on the NYPD to release the names of the four officers in the video and for them to be held accountable.