Criminal Justice

NYC Mayor Defends Decision To Handcuff and Strip Search Woman Selling Mangos on a Subway Platform

Maria Falcon doesn't have a business license. So New York police officers detained her and confiscated all of her merchandise.


New York Mayor Eric Adams held a press conference today in which he defended the New York Police Department (NYPD) decision to handcuff, detain, and strip search a criminal who has been contributing to the city's culture of lawlessness and urban decay. Her name is Maria Falcon, and she's guilty of bringing her mango cart to a Brooklyn subway platform.

"Next day is propane tanks being on the subway system. Next day is barbecuing on the subway system," said Adams today. "You just can't do that."

On April 29, Falcon was approached by police, cuffed, and led away to the NYPD Transit District 33 station where officers had her remove her clothes so they could search for weapons and drugs. She was held there for two hours before cops ultimately cited her for the violation of unauthorized commercial activity. They also confiscated all of her products. "I felt very scared and very fearful," she told AM New York.

But, according to Adams, it's the people of New York that should be afraid of her and her ilk—the fruit sellers, the barbecuers, the big, bad George Foreman grillers.

Yet, contra Adams' remarks, this is not a story about the perils of mom and pop vendors selling products people want on the subway and what dangerous descent it might lead to. Falcon wasn't cited because her business is inherently illegal. She was cited because she does not have a business license—something that many small entrepreneurs like herself cannot afford or obtain. The $500 permits are capped, meaning the thousands of people not fortunate enough to receive one are forced to shutter their livelihoods, operate illegally, or attempt to raise the money to lease one from a lucky license recipient at exorbitant rates, an infeasible ask for many.

"The MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] recognizes the benefits that vending can provide, but there are also safety-oriented rules about vending on platforms," said Aaron Donovan, a spokesperson for the agency, in a statement. "While there are a wide range of opinions about which rules to prioritize, the MTA appreciates that the NYPD is working across the board to protect subway riders and encourage compliance with all Rules of Conduct in the system."

Protecting subway riders and New Yorkers at large has been a central promise from Adams, a former police officer with the NYPD. It's a noble goal, particularly as violent crime has risen. Core to his promise was the decision to double the number of officers stationed in the subway system, where the city has seen an uptick in crime. Bolstering the police presence certainly makes sense if the goal is to prevent attacks. It makes decidedly less sense, though, if the result is cops scrolling on their cellphones and strip searching fruit sellers.

In some sense, Falcon's story is a perverse full-circle moment. A woman named Elsa met a similar fate in 2019 for daring to sell churros on the subway platform. She was not the first vendor to be arrested, and Falcon will not be the last, something Adams reminded us of at his conference today.

Elsa was sitting next to Falcon on the day she was arrested—two food sellers detained for circumventing onerous, prohibitive licensing laws that keep people from making a living. I, for one, feel no safer.

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  1. So long as the mayor supports unlimited abortion and safe spaces for trans kids, who cares about what other rights he shits on?

    1. Plus a revolving door for violent criminals. But try to sell some produce without a license? Crackdown!

    1. Guess the Transit police were not included in the Defund Police movement...

  2. The Land of the Free (to ask permission and obey commands)

  3. “If we don’t stop mango carts, next they’ll be bringing nuclear weapons to the subway!”

    1. Bernie Goetz finally enters the atomic age.

    2. The HUMANITY!

    3. Hey, The Doctor (pre woke) once ended an alien invasion with a single satsuma.

  4. New York Mayor Eric Adams held a press conference today in which he defended the New York Police Department's (NYPD) decision to handcuff, detain, and strip search a criminal who has been contributing to the city's culture of lawlessness and urban decay: Her name is Maria Falcon, and she's guilty of bringing her mango cart to a Brooklyn subway platform.

    He should defend the cops here. This truly is an issue where the problem lies more with the public that doesn't fight against these types of laws as it does with the cops enforcing them.

    There are real abuses of the police, and I have some sympathy to a retort that the NYPD is choosing to deal with these crimes and not more serious ones, but ultimately we have to push back at some point and make people aware that if you make bad laws, your intentions for those laws don't mean shit.

    1. Moreover, this wasn't a random enforcement by the police. The MTA station agent had called in complaints several times and this vendor was previously cited without being arrested. What are the police supposed to do? Ignore the MTA complaints?

      1. People really love to blame the police for enforcing laws they didn't come up with or randomly decide to enforce.

        1. Yeah. I don't want this to become an open-ended defense of the police either, there are real policing issues separate from overcriminalization, but this feels very distinctly an overcriminalization issue.
          We seem to have a model in many places of this country to make everything illegal, but trust that those in power will only enforce it against the right people, or something. That's not a functional model.

          1. It's not open ended, but this specific case involves the MTA station manager calling the police to enforce city policies on a person that had previously been cited for the same violation. Do we expect/want the police to ignore these requests?

          2. True. For their faults, cops don’t actually pass idiot nuisance laws.

            Democrats do.

            1. Again, strip searched for selling her mangos on the subway.

    2. Arresting and fining her was defensible. Confiscating her goods, maybe defensible if the law allows that. Strip searching her on the apparently random suspicion that she had illegal drugs or weapons, though, was straight out of bounds and seems like it was just a way to punish and degrade her further.

      1. Perhaps. Someone is welcome to let me know if that was against the rules or not, but I suspect that, in the land of Stop-and-Frisk, that this was closer to SOP than out-of-bounds.

        And, once again, this isn't a defense of what happened, just a comment that this is what happens when you have a massively overbearing legal infrastructure like in NY. You get caprice.

        1. It ought to be out of bounds without much stronger reasons than demonstrated here.

        2. It is SOP. It is also unconstitutional. Apologies that I can't remember the case name right now but there is precedent that strip searches require specific cause and are not defensible as part of the 'search incident to arrest' exception to the Fourth Amendment.

          And that's before you get to the moral argument that the 'search incident to arrest' has been exploded far beyond it's original justification of 'looking for weapons to ensure officer safety'.

          1. With luck, she gets a good lawyer that gets her enough money to retire. Though probably not in NYC.

      2. This could have been an episode of Car 54 Where Are You.
        Instead Eric Adams allows the absurd to become normal.
        Oh well, they could have voted for and elect Curtis Sliwa.
        Someone with common sense. And real leadership.

      3. I actually don't know the answer to this, but does every person who gets arrested and spends time in a holding cell at a precinct get searched? I'd have to assume they search the person for weapons and drugs normally. Is that not supposed to happen?

        1. ala Eric Gardner.

      4. Hey maybe they just wanted to get a good look at her mangoes.

    3. I thought the addition of 'strip search' interesting as part of the narrative here.

      If you get arrested, you're gonna get strip searched. That's how it works. So the question is about the necessity of the arrest, not whether or not the arrestee went through the same experience as every other arrestee.

      For instance, I can almost guarantee you every Jan 6 insurrectionist was strip searched.

      1. , I can almost guarantee you every Jan 6 insurrectionist was strip cavity searched.

      2. You can expect to be strip searched if you're going to jail, but that's generally not the case with the average arrest.

        This was just cops being mean and degrading.

  5. "Next day is propane tanks being on the subway system. Next day is barbecuing on the subway system," said Adams today. "You just can't do that."

    Why not?


      1. I bet you are lots of fun at parties.

      2. I'd guess you've never been in a subway before. Ventilation is strong even before the trains themselves blast huge quantities of air through the station with every arrival.

        Furthermore and as the article already points out, the MTA encourages vendors to prepare and sell food in the stations - as long as they've jumped through the appropriate bureaucratic hoops and greased the right palms.

      3. Lots of people use gas stoves indoors with much less ventilation than subway stations have.

      4. But barbecue might improve the subway odor.

      5. Funny, I cook indoors in an are with much less cubic footage of airspace with no problems.

    2. It would certainly smell better than urine and feces deposited by the homeless.

  6. "Her name is Maria Falcon"

    Hasta la vista, Mrs. Falcon

    1. Wondeful. A true deep cut.

  7. You can shove people in front of subways, loot stores, assault people on the street, but selling mangoes in the subway? FUCKING MANGOES???? We can't have that.

    1. Yeah, I'm amazed that NYC is able to keep up its 'broken windows' stance here while there's a guy behind them pooping on the platform.

    2. It is Phailing Phil Murphy level of incompetence and venality.

      1. How do you like the bag ban?

    3. You can piss and shit in the subway with little consequence too. God forbid she provide fresh produce to passers by.

    1. Her buddy Charlie knows a thing or two about the subway system.

    2. your hands and feet are mangos, you're gonna be a genius anyway

  8. This problems could have and should have been solved at the border.

    1. Let her experience stand as a warning to others trying to sneak into this shithole country.

      1. New York City is unsalvageable trash, along with most of the people living there.

  9. The pop-up ad says polling for Eric Adams is slipping. He was elected in a landslide of 10% of eligible NYC voters and will undoubtedly win again.

    1. - pop-up vid.

    2. The pop-up ad says polling for Eric Adams is slipping. He was elected in a landslide of Zuckerbucks 10% of eligible NYC voters and will undoubtedly win again.

      Fixed it. 🙂

    3. yeah, but on the dem ticket did you see who the other 10 he was running against? Curtis of course would gave been the least objectionable.

  10. And she should have been arrested for the way she's wearing that mask. She's LITERALLY KILLING PEOPLE!

  11. Also, because it seems that everyone here is ignorant of the deadly possibilities of mangos:

    Educate yourself, Reason.

  12. Evidently, Libertarianism = Anarchy.
    1. In a democracy, the people and their elected representatives get to make rules about how common areas are to be used.
    2. Police exist to enforce those rules.
    3. Evidently, the police had tried, without success, to get the woman to cease this activity.

    Reason: What else are the cops supposed to do? Let the New York subway system turn into a cluster like Seattle or Portland?

    1. Libertarians support the freedom to engage in voluntary economic activity without worrying about government coercion. That's not anarchy because it depends upon the enforcement of criminal law, property rights and contracts.

      1. Is that unlimited, especially on government owned property? As the owner of the property, isn't it within the rights of the government to set policies for that property and enforce those policies?

    2. Concur with Winston. Police didn't write the rules they are asked to enforce. Generally, I also think selective enforcement of legislative body law/regulations/rules by the executive parts of government is a terrible habit. If the rule is on the books, attempts should be made to enforce it. I understand that manpower and time can restrict how much enforcement there is on specific issues and I understand that we would want to examine closely who/what is creating the rules (i.e. are they an unelected bunch of self interested protectionists). But the general principle should be that laws/regulations will be enforced until repealed or replaced.

      1. do 18 USC 1507.

      2. I read the article as a criticism of dumb law and a criticism of the police for the strip search that was uncalled for.

    3. What else are the cops supposed to do?

      Oh, I dunno.. how about arresting violent criminals?

      Of course, it's a lot easier to just harass old ladies who aren't hurting anyone.


      1. As opposed to arresting a couple of guido brothers who appear to have a long history of sexual assault.

        1. With the older brother also being a mass murderer of the elderly.

  13. let's manhandle Abuelita that'll show the peasants.

  14. When you elect a pig to office, they will not stop being a pig.

    1. Andrew Cuomo agrees.

  15. I left my then home town, NYC in 1967. Have yet to regret the move.

  16. At first I thought this was a headline from the Onion or Babylon Bee. However, the further I read,I realized it was no satire. It could be said the entire episode was a satire in itself.
    One might also suspect that mayor Eric Adams himself is a satire of the office he now holds.

  17. Lefties never pass up a chance to get a look....

  18. Yes that is the most pressing crime for NYC. Right?

  19. 'strip search' i.e. what we all do before going swimming - strip down to our bathing suit. Yawn. If you understood how bad the drug problem is in NYC jails, you'd understand the common sense procedure of the 'going swimming', eh, strip search. The cap on the licenses is to prevent NYC from looking and smelling like the worst hell holes of India or Bangladesh.

  20. How do you solve a problem like Maria?
    How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
    How do you find a word that means Maria?
    A flibbertigibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!

    Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
    Many a thing she ought to understand
    But how do you make her stay
    And listen to all you say
    How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

  21. Hey, anyone else remember when Democrats pretended to care about the poor?


  22. SSDD - Same Shit - Different Democrat.

    Seriously, if you want good old fashioned Russian style oppression there is one party to choose.

  23. Back in the 1980’s there was a $10 fine for playing music in the subway. The tile was great acoustic setting and a decent player could earn $60-$70/hour. . . And never get strip searched.
    So much more intimate now.

    1. Tony should go there on holiday. He probably has a ‘men in uniform’ kink anyway.

  24. I understand she had her stand on the platform. Was it an obstruction (especially when crowds of pedestrians were trying to go both ways), causing some to wobble dangerously at the edge over the tracks?

    Apparently the Transit authority sells permits to some vendors. Would a licensed vendor be allowed to set up a stand where she was? (In that case, I would agree the deal smells.) Or would a licinsed vendor have to stay in a particular area that would not be obstructive?

  25. I really don’t care for N.Y.C. Cops anymore, they used to be cool, They have this serious monoculture thing, guess it goes w/any para-military org- talk to one , you talked to all. Individualism is seriously frowned upon.In Texas they have a saying.Can’t use your hands,can’t use your head,become a cop.Durring the pandemic, I would walk thru Penn Sta and see about a dozen cops all standing together in one place,and I realized,they don’t want to be vulnerable,they seriously know how to look out for themselves????

  26. NYC may be notorious for its vendor contract corruption, but it is impossible to give everyone a fair shot at public vending because there isn't enough room. If a city auctions off space, then only the rich will own all the good spaces. A lottery could potentially create a fair environment for vendors, but then consumers would be stuck for a time with stupid mangoes instead of what they want, such as coffee and pastries.

    1. Yeah, because centrally-planned economies have worked so well ... no place else ever.

  27. What does Reason suggest as an alternative? Cheaper permits? More permits? No permits? Its not enough to just criticize.

    1. Read the article. The answer you seek is already there. (Hint: It's 'no permits unless there is a legitimate interest and no excessive fees or unnecessary red tape for the tiny minority where there is a legitimate interest.)

      1. It doesnt say that in the article. Its just critical of the current policy, without suggesting what should be done about it.

  28. Maria needs a better business plan. A) Who needs a mango while waiting for/riding a subway train? B) Continuously placing your cart in an area prohibited to you after several warnings suggests a failure to adapt to new information. I think the law is stupid, NYC is stupid, the whole event is stupid, but Maria is not thinking things through either.

  29. Got to stop the competition from making money. Nyc's fine upstanding catholics might get upset.

  30. Mangoes are the gateway fruit that leads to papayas and durians.

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