Bronx community rallies around street vendor who had her food confiscated and thrown away

Residents, elected officials, and activists from across The Bronx and New York City are outraged at how a local street vendor was treated by the New York Police Department and Sanitation Department last week when she couldn’t produce a vending permit last week at her produce stand at Pelham Parkway and White Plains Road.

When Diana Hernandez Cruz was unable to provide the permits, the NYPD saw it fit to call Sanitation who in turn confiscated her fresh produce and began to throw it away rather than work with her to help her get the necessary permits as seen in a video which has since gone viral.

The incident, which occurred last Thursday, September 23rd, resulted in a loss of over $10,000 in fresh produce.

In a statement on Twitter, The Street Vendor Project, who advocates on behalf of the over the estimated 10,000 street vendors of New York City, said, “The vendor is clearly a beloved member of her community. Neighbors crowded around her, calling for the abuse to stop Thousands of dollars worth of oranges, tomatoes, and other fruits trashed Taken from an immigrant woman entrepreneur, already hard hit by the pandemic”.

“The systemic abuse of our city’s micro-businesses and disregard for hunger is a travesty. Our communities deserve care, support, and training. Thankful to the community members who donated to the vendor yesterday to help her get back on her feet”, they added before asking Mayor de Blasio if he condones this behavior.

According to Sanitation, they had the food discarded because it was “…abandoned material needed to be disposed of for the safety of the community,” however, the food was not abandoned and this practice is not in line with protocol as per the Department of Worker and Consumer Protection.

As you watch the video, you can clearly see Hernandez Cruz at the stand watching as sanitation just throws away the produce.

Ms Hernandez Cruz says she’s been working at that corner selling fresh produce for five years to provide for her family and she’s out there whether the sun is shining or in bad weather in the snow and rain.

At the root of the problem is the permits are currently capped at about 5,100 permits, a number that hasn’t changed since the 80s which has led to many immigrants desperate to work to simply set up shop wherever and however they can along the city’s busy commercial corridors.

A bill written by New York State Senator Jessica Ramos from Queens would change that but it hasn’t had any movement since it was presented in 2019.

These are people who are trying to make a living and shouldn’t be treated as criminals. The city and state need to step up to make it easier for them to do so and be compliant with rules and regulations.

In the meantime, a fundraiser has been set up for Hernandez Cruz to help her recover the over $10,000 lost in produce that was thrown away.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.