Outrage as NYC Parks officer tries to detain 14-year-old girl selling fruit

Outrage as NYC Parks officer tries to detain 14-year-old girl selling fruit

New Yorkers have been left shocked after a video went viral that shows a Parks officer trying to detain a young girl selling fruit in a popular Manhattan tourist spot.

The incident happened on Sunday afternoon in Battery Park between a 14-year-old child and a uniformed enforcement officer, who appears in the video holding onto her and trying to put her in handcuffs.

During the video, bystanders shout at law enforcement, saying, “Let her go” and “Don’t touch her”, while other people surrounding the incident appear to try and pull the girl and the officer apart.

Officials have said that the child’s mother has an unlicensed fruit cart and has been warned several times, and the girl got caught up in a response from an enforcement officer.

The New York City Parks Department will be conducting an internal investigation into the incident, after the video, which has been seen millions of times online, surfaced.

The department had said it was working with the NYPD to confiscate food sold by unlicensed vendors when several people intervened, and both the officer and the child fell to the ground, according to ABC7.

Mayor Eric Adams went off topic and spoke up about the incident during a conference on Monday about NYC’s public restrooms, defending the officers on Monday and calling upon the federal government to allow migrants and asylum seekers to work so they do not have to rely on illegal vending.

The mayor said he saw the video himself and said that in that particular area, they have received complaints about illegal vendoring.

“The park enforcement officers must respond to that. We have to respond to complaints that are coming from citizens. The parent there is a habitual abuser of it, and she has been told several times, and she refuses to comply,” he said, adding that the parks and police departments are both conducting an investigation because they both responded.

“No one wants to see a 12-year-old handled in a way that can seem offensive or abusive,” he continued, speaking about the video. “No one wants to see that. We’re going to continue to get better at what we do. The larger problem here that no one wants to talk about, it is not dignified to have people unable to provide for themselves. We’ve been saying this for almost two years now. Let them work.”

“Why aren’t we allowing able-bodied human beings that came to America to pursue the American dream, parole into the country?” the mayor added in part. “The bottom line is they were illegal vending because they’re not allowed to work legally.”

YouTuber and musician Marc Rebillet captured the video and shared it on X, with his post alone garnering over 10 million views.

"They’re not allowed to be there, that’s fine, you can talk to the mother," Rebillet told ABC7.

"There’s a mother, a dad, whatever, adults. Then NYPD comes in and starts trying to cuff this kid. She’s 12. You just can’t do this. She’s a kid, and then Parks comes in and grabs her away. She’s struggling. They get thrown to the ground. She gets away, thank God."

Organizations such as the non-profit Street Vendor Project have also criticized the incident, telling ABC7 that “this is the reality that street vendors are living in”.

“Every single day they step out of the door, street vendors are aware this is the risk they are taking to make an honest living in a system that’s not functional.”

The NYC Street Vendor Justice Coalition also released a statement saying they were “appalled by the aggression” towards the street vendor family and their daughter.

“Street vendors are primarily immigrants, people of color, and working families – exactly the New Yorkers whom our city’s administration claims to support,” they added.

In a statement the Parks Department said, "Our Parks Enforcement Patrol’s first course of action is to educate in order to bring violators into compliance.”

“When individuals have repeatedly flouted the law, we take additional enforcement actions, and there are instances when it is necessary to place violators and individuals obstructing the law under arrest."

The department also told Fox5 that the officer involved has been reassigned to administrative duties while the investigation is ongoing.

Local reports say that the mother was arrested at the scene.

The Independent has contacted the New York City Parks Department and Mayor Eric Adam’s Office for comment.