On Thursday, September 23rd, NYPD officers in collaboration with the Department of Sanitation confiscated the materials of longtime Bronx street vendor small business owner Diana Hernandez Cruz and her colleagues. Diana has been a beloved vendor in the neighborhood for several years. Community members jumped to her defense, filming the incident and berating the officers for harming her livelihood and throwing over $1,000 worth of fresh produce into the trash, while 1 in 5 Bronx families is food insecure.
Diana and her colleagues were told they could not vend due to not having a permit. Diana has previously tried to apply for a mobile food vendor permit for the city to formalize her business, but due to the cap on mobile food vendor permits she was told she could not get one.
Street vendors are NYC’s smallest businesses. As entrepreneurs, they contribute to our city and state economy. In the Bronx, they contribute to addressing food insecurity in the borough with the highest rate of food insecurity.
The city and state must work to formalize the street vending industry, creating a pathway to entrepreneurship for the primarily immigrant, women, and military veteran New Yorkers who manage street vending businesses, removing the barrier to entry to the industry so that vendors may obtain permits to operate their business in accordance with the law.