Yesterday I was stopped by Erdem, the fruit and vegetable peddler on 49th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard. He was scared and wanted me to write a story about his situation. As many of you know, one morning last week he was arrested, hauled off to jail, and his fruit stand was basically left idled and exposed with a handwritten sign saying “Closed Until Further Notice.” After spending almost 30 hours in the Queens County Jail, without food, drink, or sleep, he went before a judge who very quickly dismissed him and all the outstanding tickets that led to his arrest. According to Erdem, the tickets were all from 2009 and came in a quick flurry during a period of harassment, possibly by an angered merchant(hint: Dunkin Donuts didn’t come to Vernon until 2011). Infractions included items such as being too close to the crosswalk, and not having his licenses properly displayed.
Fast forward to last week, when after four years of no infractions, which would have disallowed his ability to get aforementioned licenses(renewed in January 2012), Erdem gets taken in. Ever since, he’s been on eggshells, as he doesn’t know if his arrest was due to the law or is something personal, though he surmises the latter. Due to the arbitrariness of his arrest, the unknown duration of another potential jail stint, be it one day, two days, or a week, and the constant fear of losing his livelihood, he is extremely stressed.
Furthermore, he’s frankly embarrassed by his arrest. When you stand in a very visible spot and conduct business with hundreds of people each week, you become part of the fabric of the community. Likewise, the Hunters Point community is very, very important to him, and he feels a very personal attachment.
I don’t know what to do to help Erdem, other than write his story. If anyone else has advice or could lend a hand, please reach out to him, he’d be extremely grateful.
Queens Borough President Gives Thumbs Up to Expanded 5Pointz Development – the towers will now be 41 and 47 stories
Developers Add More Affordable Housing Units to 5Ppointz Plan for Approval – how that helps you, I do not know
LIC Residents Want Safer Streets – Dutch Kills locals demonstrate for more traffic safety
Breweries Not Too Big for Their Barrels – the NYT discusses the proliferation of nanobreweries in NY, and mentions both our local ones, Rockaway and Big Alice
NYT Interview With Founder of aptsandlofts – the local real estate broker handling a 200 unit rental building near the water
Local Knicks Star Wears Number of former LIC High School Star – Queensbridge boy makes good