Dozens of delivery guys on Monday demanded that the NYPD tighten security measures to protect them from criminals – especially on one of their main routes to and from work: the Willis Avenue Bridge, where workers were beaten and robbed several times and one was killed nearby. .
About 85 delivery men – including restaurant workers, DoorDash concert workers, and drugstore delivery men – marched in droves to the Neighborhood 40th House on 138th Street E. in Mott Haven and then proceeded to the House of the 25th Ward station on 119th Street E. in Harlem to express their frustration at the multitude of attacks against them.
“The bridge is one of the most dangerous in the city and a place where assaults and thefts are frequently committed,” said Sergio Solano, one of the leaders of a new delivery defense group, El Diario de los Deliveryboys at the Gran Manzana (The newspaper of the delivery people of the Big Apple).
Solano and other delivery men have been targeted by criminals on the bridge – and have stepped up their activism after a delivery man was robbed on June 14 during his shift. Such thefts occur in part because the cycle path is accessible from several stairs along the bridge, meaning cyclists are unaware that a mugger is waiting for them in the darkness of the span.
It is not known what was taken in the incident on June 14, but the suspect apparently dropped his phone – which contained photos of him – on the bridge during the theft. The victim gave the phone to cops in the 40th arrondissement, who arrested a suspect on June 23, police said.
Juan Delgado, 27, has been charged with theft, robbery, assault and possession of stolen property.
But there have been numerous other incidents where workers have been forced to hand over their bikes or money – and if they refuse, they are assaulted, Solano said. In addition, delivery man Francisco Villalva Vitino was killed in March near the bridge after refusing to give his electric bicycle – the basic tool of his livelihood – to a thief.
“This unfortunate event has outraged us and we don’t want this kind of crime to continue to happen,” Solano said on behalf of himself and other workers, who are mostly immigrants and people of color. who are frequently abused by criminals, police and even local officials.
The group’s demands, which were presented to the two constituency commanders on Monday, include:
- The 25th and 40th ridings need to work better together to protect delivery people crossing the Willis Avenue Bridge.
- Cameras and lights must be installed on the deck.
- Stairs and exits in the middle of the bridge should be closed so that criminals do not have the opportunity to prey on unexpected workers.
- Officers should enforce rules against illegal mopeds, which are faster than regular bikes.
“The violence has increased since the start of the pandemic and has continued,” the letter said. “The robberies don’t stop, the assaults happen in broad daylight.”
Cops on both sides of the bridge received the group’s letter. The 40th District Commander, Deputy Inspector Robert Gallitelli, met the workers outside his police station and told them he had met his cops about safety on the bridge. He did not provide any details about that meeting and did not reveal any upcoming strategy.
“Now we are waiting for answers,” Solano said. “We are waiting for the action. We need more security.
Violence against delivery men is obviously not a new subject. A recent story in the New York Times said that bicycle thefts from delivery men doubled to 328 thefts last year, from 166 in 2019. Last month, an unknown assailant attacked a delivery man with a plastic tube in traffic difficult in Hells Kitchen. The New York Times also reported that a delivery man was robbed at gunpoint. The publication attributed the increase in crimes against delivery people to high unemployment rates and the ease of getting money for a stolen bicycle.
Beyond the criminals, delivery people are frequently victims of New York’s dangerous roads. Last year dozens of delivery people were killed or injured in crashes, including Ivan Morales, who was killed by a motorist last year near the Willis Avenue bridge.