When Mayor Eric Adams revealed a new design campaign, “We Love NY,” this week — an update to the Milton Glaser “I Love NY” sign that has been synonymous with the city since debuting 46 years ago — many wondered simply: why?
The design has been dragged through the mud on pretty much every major publication, not only for the design itself that one Twitter user called “what happens when you price all the artists out of your city” but also as a misuse of funds (as Hell Gate argues you might think of “facelifts” to the public transit system and the city’s housing crisis first).
Now New Yorkers are dunking on the city campaign for its claim to love “the churro lady” in its Instagram post promoting the design overhaul. The churro lady in New York is not a single person but rather has come to be representative of the churro vendors in the subway, often women, who have been routinely ticketed by the city and are the subject of law enforcement harassment.
The Street Vendor Project, which advocates for street vendors in New York City, wrote in the comments section of the post, “Please return the $1,000 fines issued to churro ladies,” while others have taken to Twitter to point out the hypocrisy, with one journalist writing, “does this gets [sic] the churro lady a free pass next time she gets arrested by NYPD?”
A 2022 report by Gothamist found that despite the city claiming to move enforcement away from the NYPD, street vendors are actually getting ticketed more than they used to. This month, the city announced it would be moving street vendors out of the jurisdiction of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, to the Sanitation Department. At the time, City Councilmembers Sandy Nurse and Shahana Hanif, wrote in a joint statement that “the Department of Sanitation’s mission is street cleanliness, not enforcing vendor licenses.” The Street Vendor Project, for its part, wrote of the decision in a public statement: “Small businesses run by immigrants, veterans, and low-income New Yorkers are not trash.”
Earlier in March, Pix11 covered a protest for street vendor rights in the city, with one vendor telling the publication that “They should not criminalize street vending. We are a small business. We need more permits and licenses.” Often street vendors in New York City are licensed, but it is much harder for them to obtain permits. As Mother Jones reported, they are in limited supply; legislation was passed to help permits become more widespread but the city has nevertheless stalled on the promise.