They were also rallying to have their streets made cleaner in other ways, including actual garbage on the streets in several locations that the protestors passed by, and by removing street vendors. One of the protestors, whose daughter was holding a sign saying “Prostitutes should not be my role model,” said that they are not against street vendors in general. Rather, they want them to have an assigned place, and not block the streets so that pedestrians cannot pass by.
On Wednesday, August 2nd, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rallied with street vendors at the Corona Plaza street food hub next to the 7 train at 103rd Street. She makes the case that New York City does not have enough street vendor licenses available, only 853 to be precise. That is for a city with a population of nearly 8.5 million, with a great many areas where street vendors could be placed. Years ago, and continuing to this day, certain types of licenses are restricted to veterans and spouses of veterans, with everyone else having to place their name on a waiting list.
Here is the information from the NYC 311 website. The number Rep. AOC mentioned is that reserved for non-veteran applications for a general merchandise vendor license. This does not include food vendors, as they are subject to completely different licensing requirements. Many of the applicants, as well as those operating general merchandise sales operations are part of the immigrant community. As such, they are generally not already veterans when they arrive, and cannot enlist in the armed forces until they have received their green card:
“You must have a General Vendor License to sell, lease, or offer to sell or lease goods or services in a public place that is not a store.
You can apply for a General Vendor License if:
- You’re a veteran or surviving spouse or domestic partner of a veteran and you live in New York State. See license application requirements.
- The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) contacts you with a waiting list number.
“Eligible veterans and the surviving spouses or domestic partners of eligible veterans who live in New York State can apply for a General Vendor License. The number of licenses issued to non-veterans is limited by law to 853.
Non-veterans who want a license can apply to be on a waiting list only during specific application periods. Currently, the waiting list is closed and won’t reopen until the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) has run through the current pool of non-veteran applicants. The deadline to apply for the last application period was November 15, 2016.”
Food vendors are a whole different issue, with more available licenses, as well as new laws that have recently taken effect to address some of the issues which have long plagued that industry, such as long waiting lists, low number of licenses available, and other issues. From the NYC.gov site about food vendors, which do have a higher number of licenses available than the general vendors mentioned above:
“The number of mobile food vendor permits available for issuance is restricted by law, with the following limits:
- 2,800 Full-term Citywide Permits, valid for a two-year period
- 100 Full-term Citywide Permits exclusively for veterans and disabled people, valid for a two-year period
- 200 Full-term Borough-Specific Permits (up to 50 permits available for each borough other than Manhattan), valid for a two-year period
- 1,000 Seasonal Citywide Permits, valid from April to October each year
- 1,000 Green Cart Permits (fruit and vegetables)
Under a new law enacted this year, there will be an additional 445 mobile food vending permits available each year between July 2022 and July 2023. People who are already on a mobile food vending waiting list and have held a mobile food vending license since March 1, 2017, will be eligible first.”
According to the Queens Chronicle, the protest was organized by a group of moms in the Jackson Heights area, and their main concerns are prostitution, drug use, and unlicensed street vendors in the area. The organizer, Massiel Lugo, said, “I have a daughter who has to take the train. She has to pass over three brothels… We are concerned about our children; they should not be exposed to this. ”
Another organizer said, “Today we’re here marching for a better quality of life. … We are concerned about our children; they should not be exposed to this.”
All of the protestors who marched on Sunday, September 10th, during a heavy downpour, want to have a safer environment for their children to grow up in. They don’t feel their kids should have to pass by multiple brothels on every block where the prostitutes are soliciting for clients outside.
Curtis Sliwa has said that this is a problem that the Guardian Angels have dealt with before, many years ago in the past. “The plan would be to have Guardian Angels from nearby Woodside and Sunnyside patrol this area… start dealing with the bad operators who are providing the protection for the sex traffickers. We’ll find out who they are…we have our own ways of dealing with sex traffickers…. The johns are the easiest to intimidate. When they come off the 7 Train, we’ll take their picture, we’ll say, ‘Hey, you want your wife and your kids to see this, to see you’re coming in to Corona here to solicit for prostitution? Go back to where you live. Go back, before we let your wife and kids know what’s going on…”
The activists’ main concern was the prostitution, although they were also concerned about making the streets cleaner for a healthier environment. As the protestors walked through the area, many of the City garbage pails that are placed on street corners had piled of trash accumulated around them. This can certainly be a health risk, whose improvement can contribute to the overall well-being of the residents.
According to EPA.gov, “Litter can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and can spread disease through direct or indirect contact with humans. Mismanaged trash may also attract pests or cause fires. Aquatic trash can also have negative impacts on recreation, tourism, and the economy “
Some anti-littering campaigns, such as the Don’t mess with Texas® campaign have been very successful in deterring people from littering.
Earlier this year, New York City started the first anti-littering campaign in about 15 years.
NYC residents and businesses can also adopt a corner litter basket and receive supplies to keep it clean, along with a certificate of recognition for doing so.
At the conclusion of the protest, several organizers and marchers were interviewed, and gave their view of why they were there. This march was unique in that it included mostly the children of the neighborhood who, along with their parents, are concerned with what the area has become like.
Banner Image: Video cover image. Image Credit – Staten Islander News