In the continuing battles over who gets to sell hot dogs in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the city cracked down on Tuesday on two military veterans who have each operated pushcarts in front of the museum despite city orders to stop, according to the New York Times.
The vendors, Armando Crescenzi and Howard Dalton, who each served in the Army, were arrested in front of the museum and had the hot dog carts they were operating seized on Tuesday afternoon, after they refused police orders to move.
The two vendors have stirred up controversy by claiming they have a legal right to sell in front of the museum. For the past several months, they have received summonses nearly every day from the Parks Department for vending in a prohibited location.
They cite a 19th-century state law that allows disabled veterans to sell in some areas of the city where other vendors must pay to occupy.
“I don’t care if they arrest me every day — I served this country and under New York State law, I have a legal right to operate a cart here,” Mr. Crescenzi said, before being arrested. “We have lawyers and we’re going to fight this and set a precedent for other veterans, so the city can no longer take away their right to sell.”
Mr. Dalton said, “This law was created so the men and women who serve this country can come home and find a job — what message is the city sending by arresting us?”
Dan Rossi, another military veteran who sells hot dogs in front of the museum on Tuesday, was not arrested and he was not sympathetic. The spot that Mr. Rossi has claimed for years — directly in front of the museum steps — has been set aside by the city for a military veteran vendor.
“As illegal food vendors, those two guys got what they deserved,” Mr. Rossi said after watching the pair get arrested, and as police officers and Parks Department Enforcement officers loaded the two carts onto a Parks Department truck, which removed them to the police precinct station in Central Park, where the two arrested vendors were also taken.
A police spokesman said the two vendors were arrested for violating Parks Department regulations and the provisions of veterans’ vendor licenses.
The museum is one of the most lucrative spots to operate a food cart in the city, and the city’s frustration with veterans’ crowding the spot has been prolonged. The exact legality is complex and sometimes unclear.
Before they were arrested, Mr. Crescenzi and Mr. Dalton insisted they would continue to return to the location with their pushcharts and sue the city to recognize their legal right as veterans to sell at the location.