One Squeegee Man Says the New York Post Lost Him His Job

Last week, the New York Post put "squeegee man" Gregg Washington on its cover. Two days later, he was arrested. Now, after his release from jail, he says the ordeal cost him his livelihood.

ANIMAL New York found the 40-year-old Philadelphian near 42nd Street and 9th Avenue this morning. Contrary to the Post's description of Johnson as a filthy, glassy-eyed vagrant, Amy K. Nelson writes, he was "well-groomed, wearing a leather jacket, clean jeans and fresh, bright white socks."

Under Commissioner Bill Bratton, the NYPD has ramped up "broken windows" policing, placing a premium on catching petty criminals like Johnson—who was arrested for criminal nuisance and drinking in public—with the hope that eliminating small-time crime will also curb larger offenses. Bratton also ran the department in the 1990s, when the broken windows theory first gained favor, and when, as any old-time New Yorker will tell you, squeegee men ran rampant.

When Nelson asked whether Johnson would return to work after his brief incarceration, he replied "No, I can't. I just went to jail." He added that he had been making $40 per day cleaning cars, and didn't know what he'd do for money going forward.

It's hard to imagine Johnson would have been arrested when he was had he not been unwittingly made the face of the squeegee scourge, so let his story be a reminder: the people that the Post and the NYPD use as scapegoats for all New York City's problems—the homeless, the panhandlers, even the squeegee men—they're regular people, trying to get by, just like you. And now, thanks in part to that paper's reporting, one of them is out of a job.