New Yorkers are speaking out against crime in the city after a taxi driver was brutally beaten in broad daylight and children were allegedly enlisted to help solicit prostitution in a Queens open-air sex market.
Shocking footage shared by the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers (NYSFTD) and the New York Post shows two men and three women surrounding and attacking a 60-year-old can driver in Midtown Manhattan.
With pedestrians watching the vicious scene, the man attempts to shield his face as he is repeatedly punched, kicked and dragged. Eventually, he the man is knocked against his vehicle, where one woman punches him several times and kicks him in the chest.
The cab driver was taken to the hospital in stable condition and two of the five suspects, 51-year-old Natalie Morgan and 35-year-old Howard Colley, were arrested at the crime scene.
The man, now identified as Afzal Butt, told CBS New York that the incident began when someone tried to hail a taxi at Sixth Avenue and West 34th street. One man accused Butt of nearly running the group down with his cab.
“They started messing with me … Started hitting my car, breaking my side mirror … and they threw food inside my car, all over my clothes, my body. My car was littered with the food,” Butt said.
Last year, 52-year-old New York cab driver Kutin Gyimah was beaten to death by passengers who refused to pay the fare. The crime sparked outrage from New York taxi drivers.
While police say the investigation into the most recent attack on cab drivers is ongoing, the NYSFTD and the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission have spoken out following the assault.
“We must catch these young thugs and lock them up. This elderly driver did not deserve this brutal beating. Assaults, stabbings, shootings, and robberies must stop,” NYSFTD spokesperson Fernando Mateo said in a statement.
Taxi and Limousine Commission spokesperson Jason Kersten said the violence was “totally unacceptable and illegal.”
“Our Driver Support Unit is in contact with the driver and offering him assistance,” he added.
Across the water in Queens, officials and organizations have expressed concern about a street in Corona that is advertised as an open-air sex market on YouTube.
A New York Post investigation found that almost a dozen brothels have gone up along Roosevelt Avenue, where women solicit pedestrians as kids, shoppers and shop owners go about their day.
The woman allegedly recruited neighborhood kids and asked them to hand out pornographic cards while they stood outside of dentist shops, massage parlors and pool halls, according to concerned parents via the New York Post.
The Post report found that the street is advertised on YouTube by a Spanish channel, which calls the block the “Market of Sweethearts” and instructs viewers on negotiating with the workers.
“I’ve lived here my entire life and I’ve never seen it get to this point,” City Councilman Francisco Moya, D-Corona,” said.
“How do they have this f–king going on in broad daylight?” a police source told The Post. “They’re not allowed to arrest prostitutes anymore, supposedly. But they gotta figure something out.”
A spokesperson for the DCPI told Fox News Digital that the NYPD has “proactively shifted” the work of vice enforcement in the last several years to focus primarily on people who purchase or promote the sales of sex rather than the prostitutes themselves.
“We have significantly reduced the number of arrests for prostitution itself as we work in every case to connect the victims of human trafficking with the services they need,” the spokesperson continued. “We have also worked to proactively deter individual buyers of sex. Yet prostitution in all forms remains prohibited by law. The NYPD deploys where crime is reported – in response to community complaints – and we enforce the law impartially.”
Six of the brothels on the street have been closed since June by the Queens District Attorney through a policy known as “nuisance abetment” that allows prosecutors to impose hefty fines and significant closures on businesses.
Law enforcement sources have said that the move has barely impacted the thriving sex market.
“You’re looking at prostitutes being in a hub area,” a law enforcement source told The Post. “So, your children are right there. It’s not fair to the people who live there.”
Executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Taina Bien-Aime warned that trafficking cartels from Central America and Mexico are shipping women into Queens and Brooklyn and are taking advantage of the surge of migrants into New York City.
“I spoke to a young girl in Sunset Park [Brooklyn]. She said she’s seen vans at night picking up women from the shelters that house these new immigrants,” Bien-Aime added.
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