Volume 80, Number 13 | August 26 - September 1, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Clayton Patterson

That’s cold: Shaved-ice man busted in Tompkins Sq.

By Lincoln Anderson

Saturday afternoon, police reportedly arrested a vendor for selling shaved ice without a permit at Tompkins Square Park.

In the photo at right, taken after the man was removed, apparently to have his arrest processed, the vendor’s wife — who is five-and-a-half-months pregnant — is seen weeping, accompanied by other family members.

Police confiscated the man’s cart, but, in response to family members’ protests, at least let them keep the bottles of flavors.

The vendor’s mother showed up later. A military veteran, she explained that her son is on probation and that the job selling frozen treats has kept him straight and on track. According to his mom, the vendor has not had a drink or done a drug in a couple of years.

His relatives said he did try to get a vendor’s license but was told by a Ninth Precinct detective he didn’t need one to sell shaved ice.

The Ninth Precinct did not return a call for comment.

Clayton Patterson, who took the photo, said the man was being offered a penalty of 10 days’ community service.

“Ten days of free labor for the city in exchange for losing his means of making a living,” he said. “Not sure I see the logic there. Selling shaved ice is a tradition on the L.E.S.”

Michael Farrin and Donna Ellaby, a staffer for Councilmember Rosie Mendez, also witnessed the aftermath of the incident.

“I wasn’t even clear that there was an arrest,” Farrin said. “They seized the cart. I don’t know if something like that is an arrestable offense; I’d think it was a civil offense. We heard afterward it was the second time — I don’t know if it escalates at that point.”

Farrin said the sergeant ordered him to “Step back!” from the cart, warning him, “That’s evidence in front of you.”

“I announced myself as Democratic state committeeman — I don’t get to say that very often,” Farrin said, noting the officer seemed to ease up a bit after that.

“It seems kind of penny ante given these hard times,” Farrin said of the incident. “But not knowing all the details and the background and the law… .”

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