Published in The New York Times, May 18, 1894
GREEK FLOWER PEDDLERS’ TROUBLES
T. T. Timayenis Says They Are Persecuted
By Police, Not Protected in Court.
T. T. Timayenis, a Greek manufacturer, of 25 Vandewater Street makes serious charges against the police, who, he asserts, are persecuting Greek flower peddlers. He says also that the peddlers, when taken to the Tombs Police Court, are unjustly treated and cannot say a word in their own defense, as they cannot speak English, and the interpreter at the court cannot either understand or speak Greek.
“It is a great outrage the way these poor people are treated,” said Mr. Timayenis yesterday. “This is a sample outrage: I bought some flowers from one of these peddlers on last Thursday and requested him to deliver them for me. While doing so he was arrested for peddling without a license. I gave bail for him, and the case came up at the Tombs to-day. I explained the matter to the judge, but he refused to pay any attention to me. The charge was stated and the interpreter at once answered ‘guilty’ for the accused.
“That interpreter cannot speak one word of Greek. The man was fined $5. There were nearly twenty other Greek peddlers in court who had been arrested on various pretenses, and the interpreter pleaded guilty for each one in turn, and they were all fined. When I asked the interpreter what excuse he could offer for his conduct, he replied: ‘They would all be fined more if they did not plead guilty.’
“I can furnish dozens of instances where the police have demanded money from these Greeks to allow them to prosecute their business. I shall bring the matter to the notice of the proper authorities. There are some 4,000 Greeks in this city who can speak hardly a word of English, and there is no attempt to give them an opportunity to be heard in their own defense when they are arrested, but they are all adjudged guilty and fined. There certainly should be an interpreter furnished for these poor people.”
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