Harlem Vendors Protest 125th Street Rezoning


by Mr. 119th Street via Flickr

Yet another demonstration is planned this afternoon to protest the city’s proposed 125th Street rezoning plan, which could change the face of Harlem’s main commercial thoroughfare. This time it’s street vendors who claim the proposed rezoning is top-down plan that puts corporate needs over those of community.

A group of street vendors are calling for an “emergency demonstration and rally” to be held today from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building. According to a flier for the event, more than 200 street vendors have been given the shaft by the city.

“There are 200 street merchants from St Nicholas to Lex Ave,” the flier says. “They have been part of the fabric of Harlem life. They have been shuffled from one part of Harlem to another and worse, even assigned to projects that fail such as the Mart 125 and the 116th relocation. The 125th St rezoning proposal does not even address them. Lately they have been subjected to rounds of police harassment divide and conquer schemes, confiscation of goods and arrests.”

One-hundred twenty-fifth Street is known for its street vendors, who sell everything from cocoa butter and incense to “street lit” and African jewelry. Critics of the rezoning proposal worry that small, local businesses, including street vendors, will be cleared out in favor of corporate retailers.

The city council could vote on the rezoning proposal as early as tomorrow.