The Street Vendor Project says its members are regularly harassed by NYPD officers, but those exchanges are rarely caught on camera, and fear of retaliation keeps those few that are from being brought to the public's attention.
But after allegedly being "confronted" and "disrespected" by one particular police officer over several occasions, one Mr. Softee truck driver decided to film their most recent interaction, and upload the result to YouTube.
"Go for it, I don’t care," the unidentified officer tells the unidentified driver as he records her handing him a summons for working in a no-parking zone near Macy's on W. 34th St.
"You’re a maniac" the vendor exclaims as the cop dances erratically and makes unusual hand gestures.
"What is wrong with you?" the vendor asks. "What is wrong with you?" the cop replies, before adding, "blow me, bitch. Blow me."
"We hear it every day," Project director Sean Basinski told the New York Daily News. "Officers who deal with street vendors use bad language and threaten to arrest them when they pull out a video phone. We never had any proof until now."
The group is planning to continue documenting instances of cops behaving badly toward street vendors, and spreading footage on Twitter using the hashtag #blowmebitch.
"They have ‘Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect’ put on the side of their cars," said Basinski. "[T]hey have to live up to it."