Investigation underway after video shows chaotic altercation between NYC Parks officer, child

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Tuesday, June 4, 2024
Video shows chaotic altercation between NYC Parks officer, child
CeFaan Kim has more on the altercation between the officer and the child.

BATTERY PARK, Manhattan (WABC) -- The New York City Parks Department is conducting an internal investigation after video surfaced online of an altercation between an enforcement officer and a 14-year-old child in Battery Park.

The incident happened Sunday and the video shows a man in a parks enforcement uniform grabbing a child who has one of her hands handcuffed.

Officials say the child's mother had an unlicensed fruit cart and the 14-year-old child got caught in the middle of their enforcement response.

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

Advocates say law enforcement brutalized a child but Mayor Eric Adams spoke about the incident Monday and defended the officers, but said there would be an investigation.

He called on the federal government to let migrants work so they don't have to resort to illegal vending.

"That area has received a substantial number of 311 complaints because of illegal vendoring and it's impacting the quality of life," Adams said. "Let them work. Illegal vending is not working, it's illegal. We don't want our babies on the train selling candy... they should not be on the highways with their children on their backs selling items."

Adams went on to say that park enforcement officers are tasked with responding to complaints that come from citizens. He said the parent of the child is a habitual abuser and she has been told several times but refuses to comply.

"No one wants to see a 12-year-old handled in a way that can seem offensive or abusive, no one wants to see that," Adams said. "And we're going to continue to get better at what we do, but the larger problem here that no one wants to talk about - it is not dignified to have people unable to provide for themselves."

Social media influencer Marc Rebillet shot the video that has since gone viral.

"They're not allowed to be there, that's fine, you can talk to the mother," Rebillet said. "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, grabs her away. She's struggling. They get thrown to the ground. She gets away thank God."

The Parks Department released the following statement:

"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."

However, advocates say there is no excuse.

"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," said Mohamed Attia with the Street Vendor Project.

The NYC Street Vendor Justice Coalition also released a statement:

"We are appalled by the aggression towards a street vendor family and their young daughter, and our City's increasingly harmful approach towards NYC's smallest businesses. Street vendors are primarily immigrants, people of color, and working families - exactly the New Yorkers whom our city's administration claims to support."

The child's mother was handcuffed on the scene and arrested.

ALSO READ | New zero tolerance policy going into effect for street vendors without permits in Passaic

Toni Yates has the story in Passaic on illegal vendors.


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