NEW YORK (AP) – New York City police detained two women for selling churros without a license at subway stations, sparking backlash from social media users and at least one city official.
Officers can be seen in cell phone footage captured last Friday surrounding a woman who was selling the fried-dough pastries from a cart in a Brooklyn subway station.
The bystander captured the four officers talking to the Spanish-speaking woman, who appeared to be crying. Officers told her she could either turn over her cart and receive a fine or have her cart confiscated and face arrest.
The video showed officers handcuff the woman and drag her cart full of food up the stairs at the Broadway Junction station.
The New York Police Department said the woman had received 10 summonses over the past six months for “unlicensed vending”. She was released shortly after and received a ticket. Her cart was confiscated as “arrest evidence.”
The video became widely shared and sparked a protest in support of the vendor at the subway stop on Monday afternoon.
Officers then arrested a second woman selling churros on Monday morning at the Myrtle-Wycoff station in Brooklyn, the New York Daily News reported .
Police said they learned she had two warrants for failing to appear in court for selling without a license.
Scott Stringer, the city comptroller, said on Twitter that the detainment “doesn’t make anyone safer” and “raises serious questions” about the increase in police presence in the city’s subways.
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently deployed 500 officers to frequent and patrol the city’s subways to tackle the rise in crime and fare evasion.
The increase in officers has been criticised and linked to tensions between officers and civilians. Last month, a brawl between police and a group of teenagers and the chaotic arrest of a 19-year-old black man in a subway car led to hundreds of protesters taking to the streets of Downtown Brooklyn.