Vendors are not broken windows

20 Sep 2014

While Mayor De Blasio has generally received high praise for his progressive agenda, one area we think he is getting legitimate criticism is with the NYPD.

The problem is that he appointed as Police Commissioner one of the original architects of "broken windows" policing -- Bill Bratton. Bratton's theory may have made sense in the early 90's, when New York was nearly spiraling out of control. But nowadays, with crime way down, "broken windows" looks a lot like targeting low-income people of color for minor offenses like subway dancing, jaywalking, marijuana possession, and, yes -- even vending.

This was seen, most tragically, in the case of Eric Garner, who was killed by the NYPD in July while being arrested for selling loose cigarettes on a quiet street in Staten Island.  And a recent video from some great Copwatch advocates in Brooklyn shows NYPD officers treating vendors with neither courtesy, professionalism, nor respect. Instead the officers needlessly escalate an encounter with degrading language, an unwarranted arrest, and even a kick to go along with it!

Street vendors are not broken windows, but rather hard-working people, usually immigrants, who are contributing to their neighborhoods and serving their customers. If Bratton doesn't realize that, then Mayor De Blasio should find a commissioner who does.

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