Looks like the NYPD is up to more of its trademark “community policing” — this time kicking out street vendors in the busy green market on Forsyth Street along the Manhattan Bridge.
image from Bowery Boogie
Some people think the practices of vendors are foul, and that the sweep makes the streets cleaner and more sanitary (some vendors are accused of selling without a license, selling rotten produce, or leaving out trash overnight). Others believe the thousands of people who shop there every day attests to the necessity and quality of food, and that the crack down is egregious and destroying the merchants’ livelihood.
I gotta say, while the market’s location right under the bridge lends some appearance of shadiness, I’ve bought fruit here before — and it was perfectly fine. Even if there are a few sketch vendors, they are the ones who should be targeted, as opposed to busting up the market as a whole. Many folks in the community rely on these merchants for produce — not everyone can skip on over to Whole Foods for their dietary needs.
Since incidents of harassment of locals has reportedly increased along with the rising gentrification of the area (like the violent arrest of an elderly musician in Columbus Park in May), one has to wonder if this is just another effort to reinforce the interests of new, wealthier residents to make Chinatown more aesthetically pleasing and a sanitized, trendy clone of the Lower East Side (plus, as The Bowery Boogie points out, the timing of it all is rather shady, with plans underway to construct a new park on the bridge).
Who are the boys in blue really serving and protecting? They should be making the neighborhood safer to live and work in for vulnerable poor and working class immigrants — not messing with folks who are contributing to the economy and fabric of the community. Let’s hope that the vendors get to return eventually. For more info on street vendor issues and advocacy, go to the Street Vendor Project.