[Updates Below] Tension between street vendors in SoHo and the police has been ebbing and flowing for quite some time now, but leave it to the New York Post to stir things back up. Over the weekend the tabloid ran an editorial complaining about the vendors (sample quote: "It’s a horror. Everybody wants to make money down here, like we’re whores.") and so today a group of cops have been working their way up the west side of Broadway with a tape measure, kicking vendors out for relatively minor infractions. "We're not even the ones protesting down on Wall Street!" pointed out vendor Adam Elbaz. "Why are they picking on us?"

At least five uniformed and two plainclothes cops this afternoon are working their way up the west side of Broadway—coincidently the border between the 1st and 5th Precincts—demanding that vendors pack up and go. And the reasons can be pretty lame. For instance Abibou Gugye, who says he has been selling bags and sunglasses between Grand and Spring for seven years, was told that his stand was "too tall." When he offered to remove the extra height they told him no, and to just "shut it down completely."

"I have the best spot because I'm 20 feet away from all the entrances," Gugye explained, referencing the city sanctioned distance for street vendors from building entrances. "I'm right in the middle of Broadway and this has never happened. They're just doing this to show us that they have the power—and its not right."

"I live in this neighborhood, I live on Thompson Street," another vendor who would only identify herself as Donna declared as cops hovered nearby to make sure she left. "I have two kids going through college—how am I supposed to afford that if they are kicking me out?" She says that in the eight years she's been working "this has never happened."

When asked why they were doing this now, police officers would only say that they couldn't talk to the press, and the NYPD press office had no comment. But the vendors have their theories. Elbaz told us, "people who live upstairs, they complained because some of these carts stay 24 hours or don't go back to the commissary. They break the rules! But they should be fair to those who obey the rules. The enforcement is just inconsistent." Elbaz then gave an example: "People complain about people dumping grease onto the street, but they punish everyone instead of finding out who is actually breaking the law."

Update: Asked about this latest crackdown vocal vendor's rights activist Robert Lederman told us, "The new Broadway BID is being formed in large part to try to get rid of vendors. That was their #1 concern in all their meetings. The NYPD sees itself as working for the BIDS, not the local residents. No surprise that the 1st Precinct is once again busy harassing, summonsing and arresting vendors, frequently in total disregard of the vending laws. Under Bloomberg, the City is even more viciously anti-vendor than it was under Giuliani."

Update 2: Abibou Gugye, one of the vendors shut down by the NYPD, reached out after the original story ran to tell that not only were the police shutting down fully licensed vendors, they were confiscating all of their merchandise. "I've never seen anything like this," he said. "They took away my merchandise. And other people's, too. How am I supposed to make a living?"

We've reached out to the 1st Precinct to try and find out where the vendor's merchandise has been taken, but have not heard back yet.

Meanwhile the Street Vendor Project, a number of whose members saw their merchandise taken, is asking anyone with photos or videos of what happened (or who just witnessed it) to reach out to them. Or, if you prefer, send your photos and video links to photos@gothamist.com.

With Christopher Robbins