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NYC parking attendant reassigned after viral video shows physical altercation with 14-year-old girl

A city parks patrol officer has been transferred to administrative duties, a department spokesman said Monday, a day after a video surfaced on social media showing a physical altercation with a 14-year-old girl accused of selling food without a permit in a Lower Manhattan park.

According to the park administration, the dispute began when officials tried to destroy the vendors' perishable goods because they were considered unfit for consumption.

Footage of the incident – ​​which officials said occurred in Battery Park around 2 p.m. – quickly spread across social media. In the 50-second video, Video – which had been viewed more than 8 million times as of Monday afternoon – the 14-year-old is seen fighting back as a man in a park uniform tries to arrest her. In the video, bystanders can be heard repeatedly shouting in protest or calling for a police officer to intervene instead.

The 14-year-old is eventually dragged away from the officers by other people who are not seen in the video.

It does not show what happened immediately before or after the incident.

The teenager was charged with juvenile delinquency, a parks department spokesman said. A 32-year-old woman who was involved in the altercation also received a summons, officials said. The video also shows her arguing with officers.

“When individuals have repeatedly violated the law, we take additional enforcement actions, and there are cases where it is necessary to arrest lawbreakers and those who obstruct the law,” agency spokeswoman Kelsey Jean-Baptiste said in an email.

Mayor Eric Adams, who said he had seen the video, said on Monday that authorities were forced to intervene in an area where “a significant number of 311 complaints have been received regarding illegal traders.”

He accused the 32-year-old woman, described by some officials – including Adams – as the teenager's mother, of being a “habitual abuser” of the street vending law who “has been brought to its attention on multiple occasions and refuses to comply”.

However, Adams also reiterated similar comments he had made in the past and called on the federal government to help issue more temporary work permits for migrants.

“The bigger issue that no one wants to talk about is that it's undignified when people are unable to take care of themselves,” Adams told reporters at an unrelated news conference on Monday. “We've been saying that for almost two years now. Let them work.”

According to the city's Independent Budget Office, there are tens of thousands of street vendors in the city – and not nearly enough licenses for all of them, as the number of permits available in the city is limited. That means some people are on a waiting list, while others are forced to operate without a license and potentially face legal consequences if caught.

Mohamed Attia, the head of the Street Vendor Project, which advocates for these workers, said his organization is trying to contact the youth and her family. He said Sunday's incident is the same risk that unlicensed street vendors face on a daily basis because of the city's delay in issuing sufficient permits.

“Every time they step out the door and try to make an honest living as a vendor, they run the risk of being harassed, getting tickets, getting arrested, having their goods confiscated, and that shows how we as a city regulate street vending,” Attia said in an interview. “The city is failing the vendors, the city is failing its residents.”

Local elected officials are seeking to pass legislation this legislative session that would either decriminalize street vending or remove the cap entirely. Bronx Councilmembers Amanda Farias and Pierina Sanchez are sponsoring a package of legislation that would address longstanding issues surrounding the legality of street vending. This includes a bill that would effectively remove the decades-old cap on street vending licenses.

“Vendor caps result in an estimated 80% or more of vendors in neighborhoods like mine operating without a license. They have little to no access to adequate training on how to do their jobs in a way that is harmonious with our communities and promotes health, safety and public welfare. And they have no way to fully comply with regulations even if they were willing to do so,” Sanchez said in an email. “The current system is unfair.”

Queens City Councilman Shekar Krishnan also introduced a bill to eliminate criminal penalties against street vendors, which is supported by more than a third of the chamber's 51 members.

“No person, especially a child, should be arrested and put in jail for selling fruit in a public park,” Krishnan – who also chairs the Parks Committee – said in an interview. “The video of park rangers aggressively and physically restraining a child while her mother and other New Yorkers try to intervene is shocking.”

More than 20,000 people are on waiting lists for two types of street vendor documents, the IBO reported in January.

And the city could gain millions of dollars by allowing more street vendors to operate legally – the IBO estimates that the city would see a net revenue increase of $1.7 million if just 10% of those on the waiting list were approved. The amount rises to $17 million if everyone currently on the waiting list is licensed.