New Yorkers Outraged After Cops Handcuff 'Churro Lady' on Subway Station, Take Away Her Cart

News18.com

The arrest of a "churro lady" in a New York City subway station has caused outrage in the US with many criticizing the police for unnecessarily harassing an old woman.

The woman, identified as Elsa, was arrested by the New York Police Department on Saturday for illegally selling churros on the Broadway Junction station in Brooklyn.

Churros are baked, sugary snacks, originally eaten in Spain and Portugal among other places and Elsa had been selling them at the same spot for almost three years. However, on Saturday, four cops approached the woman and handcuffed her. They also took away her churro stand.

A video of the incident, filmed by the bystander has been going viral on social media since, causing outrage against the cops. Sofia B Newman took to Twitter to protest against the cops' behaviour, claiming that Elsa allegedly had trouble speaking English and constantly tried to speak to the officers in Spanish, only to be met with derision.

Elsa was given two options - to give up the cart and pay a hefty fine or court arrest along with confiscation of the cart.

"No matter what the law says, there is no reason why that many officers needed to encircle, demean, and police the poverty of that woman of color. It was an abuse of power, and yet another example of how broken our system is," Newman wrote. Though the video was posted without Elsa's consent, Newman hoped the footage would help Elsa receive more support.

The videos, which show the tearful woman being led away in handcuffs by the cops, led to widespread debate on social media. Many such as Newman called the cops' behvaviour with a poor woman of colour as an example of abuse of power. Some even called for a re-evaluation of laws that caused harassment to people instead of helping them.

New Yorkers also defended the allegation that the churro lady's presence at the station caused congestion.

On Monday, several protesters took to the streets in NYC to protest the over-policing of the subway. Elsa, who was released from custody soon after the arrest, told reporters that the cops had behaved aggressively with her. She also blamed them for taking away her churro cart, which was of a lot of value to the seller.

However, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio defended the NYPD cops on Monday when he doubled down upon the churro lady, stating that the woman had been warned before and that she had continued with the activity despite being told it was illegal.

The NYPD also released a statement on Twitter clarifying that the woman had, in fact, not been arrested on Saturday but was merely detained. The statement also insisted that the handcuffs that were put on Elsa were removed almost immediately after the video ended.