“I am focused on stopping crime and grime in our city. Mount Vernon is open for business but we will not tolerate black market activities that threaten the health and safety of our people. These businesses were repeat violators of the law and the judge’s order vindicated our decision to shut them down. It is a new day in Mount Vernon and willful ignorance of the law is no longer tolerated.” – Mayor Richard Thomas
Mount Vernon — Sporting a bulletproof vest, Mayor Richard W. Thomas and along with his Quality of Life Task Force shutdown and re-padlocked, OK Freddy’s Meat Market located at 132 S. 4th Avenue, (across the street from the Richard Thomas For Mayor Campaign Headquarters) and then held a press conference in front of the closed down business, Sunday afternoon. It was clear to many present, that this incident was personal in nature, as the two sides have vastly opposing views of the events that took place. How did we get here?
On, Tuesday, May 17th the mayor’s Quality of Life Task Force entered OK Freddy’s, giving Freddy and his employees, 15 minutes to get out of the business and then shutdown and padlocked the business, three days after padlocking the lot next door. Seven days later on Tuesday, May 24th, Westchester County Court Judge Susan Cacace ruled that the City of Mount Vernon had to remove the padlocks off the gate of OK Freddy’s Meat Market. According to court documents Judge Cacace ruled, restraining the respondent [Mayor Thomas and the City of Mount Vernon] from restricting petitioners [OK Freddy’s and Mega Beverage] access to their premises by padlock or otherwise.
Three days later, on Friday, May 27th, community leaders, elected officials and supporters gathered in front of OK Freddy’s Meat Market for a press conference and Rally For Justice. Two days after that, Sunday, May 29th, the mayor and his Task Force, shut down the premises again restricting Freddy and his employees access to the premises by padlock and held a press conference afterwards.
Freddy tells BW, Sunday was actually the third time in the two weeks that the city shut him down.
“On Thursday, two days after the judge ordered the city to remove the locks, they came in told me I had 15 minutes to leave and then locked up my store,” Freddy recalls for BW. “I called [Acting Police Commissioner] Fatigate and sent him the court order. After reading it, he ordered the officers to take the locks off. Then he mayor came Sunday, that was actually the third time he shut us down.”
Mayor Thomas and his Task Force claimed, OK Freddy’s has a history of violations, is a clear and present danger to the community and the mayor went as far as to refer to the establishment as a ‘black market business operation.’
“Black businesses matter, but black market business operations have no place in our society,” Mayor Thomas says in the opening of his press conference. “Violators must learn that the days of exploiting apathy are over and they will remain under attack in the new Mount Vernon if they continue to resist positive change.”
On the other side, OK Freddy’s states they have never received any violations in the ten years he has been in operation and feels this attack on his business is personal in nature. “It’s like the mayor has a personal beef with me,” Freddy tells BW. “How can you just shut down my business, when I have received no violations and then when the judge orders him to take off the padlocks, he shuts me down two more times again, without again providing me any violations or telling me specifically, what is wrong with my business. Even after the commissioner reopened us after reading the court order three days ago, he came back and shut me down again.”
There is obviously a difference of opinion from both parties or something is being lost in translation. At this point it may take a judge to sort things out once and for all. Some like former Yonkers NAACP President Karen Edmonson are asking the question, is this just a land grab? We are left with more questions than answers, like what are the many violations and why hasn’t the city made then know to the press and the public? Is there more to this than meets the eye? Why is the business being shutdown a second time? When the mayor states he is enforcing the court order, did Judge Cacace give him that authority, since she was the one who ordered the locks removed? What has changed, since that ruling?
BW recorded the entire press conference for you to see and hear everything that took place for yourself, (excuse the shakiness of the video). Feel free as always to leave your feedback and thoughts in the comment section below. BW will continue to follow this developing story.