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Street Vendors Plan Protest Against NYPD and Broadway Businesses in SoHo

 Street vendors say that they are being harassed by police and brick-and-mortar businesses in SoHo.
Street vendors say that they are being harassed by police and brick-and-mortar businesses in SoHo.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

SOHO — Street vendors and their allies are planning a march along Broadway in SoHo on Tuesday to protest the NYPD and the local business improvement district that they say harasses them daily.

The protest is coordinated by the Street Vendor Project, a division of the Urban Justice Center that advocates for the industry and says the workers are "subject to constant harassment, ticketing and disrespect from the NYPD and the SoHo Broadway Initiative."

"For the past couple of weeks, people have been getting slammed with ticket after ticket after ticket," said Street Vendor Project organizer Basma Eid. "No one deserves to work in a state of constant harassment and fear."

Eid said the protesters are "demanding that vendors are respected and that people are given opportunity and space to work."

"Vendors bring a lot of foot traffic to businesses in the area," she said. "In a city marked by ever increasing inequality, vendors keep New York affordable while providing meaningful employment to tens of thousands of families."

The Street Vendor Project is pushing for legislation in the City Council that would lift the cap on the number of permits and licenses the city issues, which advocates say enables a black market where such paperwork, distributed by the city for $200, is resold for up to $25,000.

Meanwhile, the SoHo Broadway Initiative is working against such legislation.

The group conducted a survey earlier this year and found that 76 percent of respondents feel strongly about sidewalk congestion on Broadway, it said.

"The Initiative's goal is simply to improve sidewalk congestion by having all sidewalk users use the sidewalk in a legal, respectful and responsible manner," the BID's executive director, Mark Dicus, said in a statement.

Dicus said "many vendors" work with the BID to select locations in the area, "but some vendors continue to operate from illegal locations that continue to clog our sidewalks and put the public's safety at risk."

Meanwhile, the legislation has not yet been introduced in the City Council.

"We need to see an end to the criminalization of street vending so that our communities can thrive," Eid said.

The protest march is set to begin at the corner of Canal Street and Broadway on Tuesday, July 19, at 4:30 p.m. and end at Houston Street and Broadway.