MANHATTAN – A street vendor says he was picked on by police outside the Jacob Javits Center where officers told him to move his food cart across the street. He protested and asked for the officer’s name and badge number.
“He told me to move for nothing, for no legal reason,” Wagih Hassan, 40, said.
The Street Vendor Project, a part of the Urban Justice Center, represents vendors like Hassan and said that the officer’s orders in this case, and others like it, are unlawful. They also point out that Hassan has the proper permit and was working in a legitimate location.
“I move already my cart,” Hassan said. “And he tell me you give my guys a hard time and you under arrest now.”
Hassan was issued eight summonses on March 12th and his cart has now been impounded ever since. He was able to retrieve it Thursday and hopes to return to work Friday. The tickets he received include obstructing pedestrian traffic, disorderly conduct and environmental citations like placing items on the street beside his cart.
“Now maybe like 14 days,” Hassan said. “I lose job. I no work.”
Hassan estimates that the episode cost his family of five, who immigrated here eight years ago from Egypt, approximately $8,000 in lost business.
Police said that Hassan and other vendors posed a safety hazard that day. They say that officers asked Hassan to move numerous times before he complied, and that he became angry and used profanities when speaking to officers.
The NYPD said that if the Jacob Javits Center had to be evacuated, vendor carts could be an obstacle for the people pouring out.
More commonly, police say that pedestrians are forced to walk on the street when the sidewalk is too crowded with food carts and people.
Hassan’s court date is set for May 17th.