Vape Van: To revoke or not to revoke its vendor's license

The following question is not theoretical:  can the Hoboken City Council revoke a vendor's license after its operator's racist tirade at a member of the public (captured on viral video)?

Or: as a matter of constitutional rights, is a vendor's racist rant against a member of the public protected speech?

GA's talking about the incident captured in a viral video; an apparent dispute over a parking spot on Washington Street. The video shows the owner of a 9th Cloud Vape Van unleashing a racist tirade at the driver of a van parked in front of him: "Immi!...Go back to your country!"

In response, the City Council and Mayor are sponsoring a resolution to revoke the vendor's license of the Vape Van's owner.

So, back to the questions: (1) can the City (legally) revoke the vendor's license for his racist tirade against a member of the public or (2) is the vendor's rant  protected  speech?

GA's no lawyer.... but  in my opinion the answer is "Yes" to both.

"Yes" the City Council can revoke the vendors license, and "Yes" the foul tirade is protected speech.

IMO, there is no contradiction.

As a citizen, his offensive speech is protected; as a licensed vendor in Hoboken,  his conduct appears to violate provisions of Hoboken's municipal code, Chapter 146, Article 1- Vendors, Peddlers and Itinerant Merchants.  This chapter of Hoboken's municipal code relates to the regulating and granting of vendors' licenses in the City of Hoboken.

Excerpts as follows:

§ 146-3 Purpose.The purpose of this chapter is to prevent dishonest business practices, to provide protection to the citizens of the City from unregulated itinerant or transient salesmen and the annoyance consonant thereto, the safety of the residents of this community and the best interests of its welfare and to eliminate noise disturbing to the peace and tranquility of the community.

§ 146-7 Qualifications of applicants.The general standard herein set out, relative to the qualifications of every applicant, shall be considered and applied by the Supervisor of Licenses. The applicant shall:
A. Be of good moral character.

§ 146-11 Regulations to be observed.All persons to whom a license shall be issued hereunder shall observe the following regulations:
A. No person or vehicle shall stand or be parked in a fixed location for the purpose of displaying or selling wares, merchandise or services on any public or private property where to do so causes or is likely to cause a crowd, impede vehicular or pedestrian traffic, produce annoying sounds, noise or disturbances, which interfere with the comfort of the residents,

§ 146-12 Revocation and suspension.A license may be revoked by the City Council by reason of the violation of the terms of the license, the violation of any municipal ordinance, state or federal statute or falsification in applying for a license.  
The City Council has the authority to decide appropriateness of revoking a vendor's license in concert with the regulations and standards of its municipal code; in  this case, does the vendor's 'hate speech' and public conduct comport with the City's regulations, or violate them?   

Yes, free speech is a right.

The granting of a vendor' license is not a right, its a privilege.

The City has the right to regulate the granting of vendors licenses.  

If the vendor wishes to exercise "hate-speech" on members of the public, it is likely most likely incompatible with the "privilege" accorded with the granting of the license.  

City Council, take it away! 

In the meantime, check out the vox populi on the 9th Cloud Vape Facebook page.  My retinas are burning!


  1. You hit the nail on the head, GA. The Vape Vans dude absolutely has a right to say what he said, however stupid, wrong and insensitive as it may be, but a city can also make the decision on a permit.

    Also, this is the time when most halfway intelligent businesses or individuals would take down their Facebook page from public view. These guys are clueless.

  2. Some of the commentary on this I've seen on reminds me of when I was 8 years old and thought "it's a free country" meant I could say whatever I wanted wherever I wanted. The 1st amendment doesn't work that way.

    From the video, it seems pretty clear to me that probable cause exists for a charge of harassment. If the target of the tirade swears out a complaint this would get to trial. The only real legal issue wouldn't be a first amendment right to shout at someone like that on the street - no such right exists. It would only be whether yelling like that at someone, given all the facts and circumstances including whatever happened before the screaming on the video started, constituted harassment.

    Similarly, the issue with regard to terminating his license is whether the conduct warrants that action under the license agreement. If the license could have been terminated for yelling "your a f***ing a-hole over and over making the same kind of scene, he doesn't get a free pass for his conduct because he used hate speech instead.

    If the city terminated the license simply for an expletive laced tirade like that in a city street without the "immi" stuff nobody would be saying that was wrong because he has a free speech right to shout non-racist curses at people.

  3. He can say whatever he wants, but when he bullies, corners and basically threatens someone on a public street and sort of circling the victim, it seems to me it's some sort of legal offense.
    It's sad when such it takes such hate speech to unify a community, I commend The Mayor and Council members Bhalla and Ramos for going out there immediately. This city has a big heart and we unite when scumbags try to mess with it.

    Where's Madigan and Sandwhich head now that REAL hate is being spread?

  4. Wish I hadn't seen Bhalla's quote on WPIX: "Facebook video into a unifying and teachable moment, and hopes that launching an initiative..." immediately I recalled where I'd heard the reference to a "teachable moment."

    Yup, someone else scored some positive press by rising above an inadvertent comment made a couple of weeks back that could easily be considered offensive. Must have really burned Ravi up to the core. But hooray, hooray, the Vape Van gave Ravi his opportunity to 1-up the situation and the Mayor (who blundered terribly the last time) jumped on board with him.

    1. That's funny, I didn't see Councilman Bhalla or Mayor Zimmer giving that quote at all, the WPIX reporter did. But let the people see the story themselves, so they can judge. I think Mayor Zimmer and Councilman Bhalla deserve kudos for stepping up and this story reflects that.

    2. Yes, Balla did NOT give that quote- you MADE IT UP. If I can figure out how to embed the video, I'll post it.

    3. Thanks for posting the link. Now try reading the article. The sentence that starts with: "Bhalla said..."

    4. 5:26- I read it. It's not a direct quote from Bhalla- it's verbatim what the reporter said in the video. You are literally putting words in his mouth that he did not say.

  5. By the logic of the above, any vendor who participated in the Cammarano protests outside of his home could have lost her or his license as the protest meets all the criteria listed. The person in the video is a despicable human being. Scum. But there is something unseemly about the city government removing a licenses based upon their decision about what speech is acceptable -- especially using vague terms such as "morals", "impede" or "uncomfortable sounds". The closest the person in the video came to violating the statute would probably be the "safety" clause. Rather than look how the Zimmer administration would enforce this law (getting rid of sh*tbirds like this), you have to think about how a not so benevolent administration could use this precedent to keep people in line.

  6. Certainly the video shows reprehensible and Inexcusable behavior. That said, I only hope that before the City Council get into a situation that could open itself to possible litigation that they triple check their position sound outside legal advice.

  7. The city of Hoboken should not be licensing vendors to sell products that are under review by the FDA for safety concerns.

    How many vapes a day to you have to sell to pay yourself and for that van?

    1. I think the review is over and a regulation is already out there from FDA.


      After a lengthy battle to increase oversight and regulation, the Food and Drug Administration has recently granted a three month reprieve of implementation of certain rules that were to affect the e-cigarette and cigar companies

  8. I read Ravi's thread that you're tagged in on fb, GA. I'm no constitutional scholar, but I saw some very good arguments against revoking the vendor's license.

    I think a strongly worded resolution(?) outlining the city's disgust and non-tolerance of this type of behavior is a good start. I'm not sure a legal proceeding will come out in the city's favor should they revoke his license.

    For the record, I've not watched the video and I won't. But from what everyone is saying, in my opinion this guy is a total ass who deserves to lose his customers. Perhaps he should reconsider his target customers/business plan and visit KKK rallies rather than diverse communities.

    1. Tend to agree. A lot of social regression is boiling to the surface these days. But making one man, however morbidly stupid, a proxy for dealing with it isn't the city's best pitch. I say that as someone who can get the average Trump supporter to yell "commie bastard!" in less than 10 seconds.

  9. Allowing these trucks in town in the first place is a very stupid idea. Retailers in storefronts are paying exorbitant rents, trying to hold on, and along comes a truck selling the same product with almost no overhead, and they take up multiple parking spots.

  10. Zimmer is anti business see! I told you! I am living in slum like condidtions in Jersey City with people getting murdered almost everyday and I love it! Support the right to vape and ditto with white supremacy. Any good look at me and you know I am the master race. Gotta go and troll other women in Hoboken that support the Mayor. Creep you out later!

    Gory Spadwick bloody handbags for sale

  11. MSV has the resolution up to revoke the Vape Truck. Not a word about the Youtube tirade just whereas after whereas of tickets and shit. Bye bye.

    1. Nope It's in there, just really watered down from Ravi's ravings.

    2. Ravings? Jeez, talk about lawless, arrogant behavior. I heard the Vape guy has a relative on the HPD. All I can say to the City is, "What took so long?"

      I hope this passes.


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