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This makes me angry: police officers humiliate woman for selling food in DC streets

June 22, 2009

An elder woman immigrant from El Salvador was detained and held in the streets by DC police officers -about three weeks ago- for selling food in the corner of 16th Street NW and Irving Street NW.

While I agree the police was trying to enforce the law, but the officers in charge were totally ignorant with people -including me- who tried to help the Spanish-speaking woman with translation into English. The two policewomen were extremely rude and threatened anyone who tried to help.

They held this poor woman in the streets for about 15 minutes asking questions as if she was a dangerous delinquent. After the incident I went and talked to the lady, to see how she was feeling about this situation.

..

I know she should obey the city laws on food service, and I support the enforcement of food safety regulations completely. But also I think there should be ways to support hard working people who are trying to make a decent living. Also I wonder if DC police needs to treat neighbors as delinquents or instead they should try to actually show respect and dignity for all DC residents. What do you think?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    June 23, 2009 8:32 AM

    Nice work Carlos, this shows how ignorant DC police can be… people are trying to survive and they treat them like criminals, right get the laws fixed or help them to keep working.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    June 23, 2009 8:35 AM

    That woman has been selling there for years. Years. And they decide now and for what reason to intimidate her? Sometimes I hate this city. They didn't bother her before DCUSA was erected, I bet. God knows we can't have someone disrupting our suburban landscape we carefully crafted in that neighborhood.

  3. Garrett permalink
    June 23, 2009 11:12 AM

    I do feel sorry for people in this situation but there also have to be rules in the city. Everybody can find a rule that doesn't work for their life. If we all disobeyed whatever rules we didn't like the city would be unmanagable. Two saturdays ago I was coming home from work and traffic was backed up because of someone selling food in an intersection. The police could be nicer but people have to obey the law. Their are places for this activity. A street corner is not it.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    June 23, 2009 4:44 PM

    "While I agree the police was trying to enforce the law, but the officers in charge were totally ignorant with people -including me- who tried to help the Spanish-speaking woman with translation into English. The two policewomen were extremely rude and threatened anyone who tried to help."

    They were probably waiting for a Spanish speaking officer or certified interpreter to translate because they need to CYA in regards to whatever conversation occurs, and if a random citizen off the street translates, there's can be a question of the quality or veracity of the conversation that occurred.

    "They held this poor woman in the streets for about 15 minutes asking questions as if she was a dangerous delinquent. After the incident I went and talked to the lady, to see how she was feeling about this situation.

    I know she should obey the city laws on food service, and I support the enforcement of food safety regulations completely. But also I think there should be ways to support hard working people who are trying to make a decent living. Also I wonder if DC police needs to treat neighbors as delinquents or instead they should try to actually show respect and dignity for all DC residents. What do you think?"

    Off the top of my head that she was probably in violation of at least five parts of DCMR covering vending (vending w/o a license [$50], vending in a restricted area outside of a specified area in a license [$50], no display of a health certificate, vending on a sidewalk narrower than 18 feet, improper storage/storage of items on public space) along with two possible violations depending on how the regs are applied (vending within 300 feet of a school depending on the time of the day, and vending in a metro bus stop zone). Considering that she admitted that she had been warned previously, and that it looks like she may have been let off again and ducked more substantial fines. So if you call performing a stop and counseling a woman on vending regulations in DC 'humiliating', then you sure do have a low bar for humiliation. If they didn't issue her a citation this time, then the officers were actively ignoring GO 308 which calls for issuing targets to people previously warned for vending violations.

    Instead of bitching about how the police were enforcing the law (which you apparently support), why aren't you griping about how your 'good friend' Jim Graham hasn't done jack shit to help push through licenses for these folks despite being on the the committee that regulated DCRA?

    "Do you think they keep the money for themselves?

    You never forfeit collateral for a citation on the spot; it's always done at the station. If they're asking for the money on the spot, refuse, get their badge number and call IAB because that's not how 61-Ds are issued.

  5. DC_publius permalink
    June 26, 2009 1:21 AM

    "I support the enforcement of food safety regulations completely."

    Exactly how do you think this should've been handled? Do you want them to continue giving her warnings? All they did was issue one ticket and held her for a measly 15 minutes. Do you think they should allow random people translate?

    I admire the woman's worth ethic, and I don't like DC's street vendor policies, but I don't see a problem here.

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