Street Vendor Project Responds to Plea Deal for Ex-State Department Official Who Harassed Muslim Street Vendor
NEW YORK - In response to the lenient treatment afforded to Stuart Seldowitz, an Ex-State Department Official who was captured on video continuously harassing and threatening a Muslim street vendor in New York City, the Street Vendor Project released the following statement from Mohamed Attia, Managing Director:
“Every day our city’s smallest businesses, street vendors, interact with a multitude of enforcement agencies, who heavily monitor every detail of their business, down to how many inches their cart is from the curb. There is little leniency if any of these minor rules are broken – and often it is accompanied by fines, court hearings, and even arrest. We see so clearly the uneven application of the law towards working-class Muslim street vendors, as Stuart Seldowitz reaches a plea deal allowing for his hate crimes case to be dismissed.
This lenient decision will discourage vendors from reporting incidents of harassment and hate, because, at the end of the day, there’s no accountability. The vendors spent hours at the NYPD station documenting the harassment, days speaking with the press to raise the issue and share their traumatic experiences to raise awareness of the vulnerable working conditions many vendors face. Even though videos of Seldowitz’s hate and verbal abuse were viewed across the globe, in New York City, justice was not served. Vendors often do not report incidents of harassment as they feel nothing will be done, and sadly this continues to be true.
Our City must ensure adequate protections and equitable working conditions for street vendors, so no vendor feels that calling for help will increase their own risk. Hate has no place in our city, and our streets should always be safe for everyone regardless of their faith, color, or background. The Street Vendor Project and our members need more transparency on how this decision was made.”