When Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered the deployment of 500 extra police officers to patrol New York City’s subway, he said they were needed to tackle a rise in crime.
The announcement set off criticism after several recent bystander videos showed physical altercations between uniformed officers and various people in the subway.
Cellphone video from a bystander captured New York Police Department officers detaining a woman who was selling churros — a fried dough snack — inside a Brooklyn subway station.
By Monday, as activists were protesting that encounter, another woman selling churros in a different Brooklyn train station was arrested, a police spokeswoman confirmed. A photo of that arrest was posted on Twitter by a commuter.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has at times had a tense relationship with the police, defended the actions the police took on Friday. “I understand the facts. The facts are she was there multiple times and was told multiple times that’s not a place you can be, and it’s against the law and it’s creating congestion,” Mr. de Blasio said at an unrelated event on Monday.
“She shouldn’t have been there,” he added, and “the officers comported themselves properly, from what I could see.”
City officials need to “really engage” with local residents and explain to them “that that’s not an acceptable behavior so it never comes down to a situation like that,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat in his third term, told reporters on Monday that he had not seen the video and declined to say whether the police had acted appropriately. “I don’t know anything about this specific food vendor case, so I leave that to the N.Y.P.D.” he said.
He noted, however, that the encounter involved New York Police Department officers, not officers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state-run transit agency that oversees the subway and has its own police force.
The hiring of 500 M.T.A. officers — who would not be part of the city police force — is meant “to combat violent incidents including robberies and assaults on transit workers, and hate crimes,” said Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo.
Mr. Cuomo has previously said the extra officers are needed to combat fare evasion and to address issues like homelessness.
The subway, which is already patrolled by 2,500 Police Department officers, has seen a decrease in most major felonies.
In the video posted on Twitter on Friday, a woman can be seen surrounded by three uniformed officers and a fourth officer in plain clothes inside the Broadway Junction stop. The woman cries, speaks in Spanish with the officers and points to her cart, which is full of food.
One officer tells the woman that she can either turn over her cart and receive a fine or face arrest and have the cart confiscated, the woman who posted the video said on Twitter.
The officers eventually handcuffed the vendor and dragged her cart up a flight of stairs inside the station.
The woman was released shortly after and given a ticket, police officials said.
In a statement posted on Twitter, a top New York City police official said the woman had “received 10 summonses in the past 6 months.”
“Our officers have been responding to a number of recent complaints of violations at this station, including the unlawful and unlicensed sale of food and other products,” the official, Edward Delatorre, the chief of transit for the Police Department, said on Twitter.
Chief Delatorre did not specify what the woman was charged with or identify her by name.
“She was not arrested,” he said, but rather “she was briefly cuffed” after she “refused to comply” with officers, who he said spoke to her in English and Spanish. Her property was “invoiced” and she was released “with another summons.”
But after the cellphone video became widely shared, a backlash to the encounter was swift and widespread. A protest in support of the churro vendor took place on Monday afternoon at the Broadway Junction stop.
The vendor spoke to reporters at the protest and said that the police had laughed at her. She also said she had been selling churros in the neighborhood for three years. The woman, who identified herself as Elsa, said she pleaded with the police not to take her cart. “Please don’t do that,” she said, speaking through a translator, Wilfredo Florentino, a member of a local community board.
The officers, “became very aggressive and violent and they grabbed the cart,” she said, as she started crying in front of the crowd.
Elsa said she was detained for 10 minutes, was given a summons and had all her merchandise confiscated.
“They took absolutely everything away from her, she was left crying and broken,” said Mr. Florentino.
Elsa has five children, four of whom live in her native Ecuador, Mr. Florentino said.
Selling food without a license in the subway is prohibited under Metropolitan Transportation Authority rules, but it rarely leads to an arrest.
Churro vendors, many of whom are women, with pushcarts are a common sight in many subway stations. In train cars, it is not uncommon to see young men selling candy bars and snacks.
Andy Byford, the subway leader, declined to comment on the episode, telling Fox 5 New York that the case was under litigation. But, he said, “I watched the video and it’s hard not to feel sorry for the lady.”
Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and a retired police captain, said there was nothing wrong with enforcing the rules barring selling unlicensed food. But on Friday, the implementation of the rules had gone astray. “It’s not what the police did, it was how the police did it,” Mr. Adams said in an interview.
“Correcting the condition of selling sweet treats in the subway should not end up with handcuffs,” said Mr. Adams, who is expected to run for mayor in 2021. “If we can’t correct someone selling an item in the subway without placing them under arrest, we are failing as a Police Department and that’s the message that people saw.”
State Senator Julia Salazar, whose district includes the Broadway Junction subway stop, said the video shows officers “criminalizing” a person who was trying to make a living.
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