After Complaint Over Permit, City Helps Teen Become Business Owner

Jaequan Faulkner, 13, had his popular hot dog stand shut down after someone complained. Minneapolis officials did something amazing: They helped him reopen it.

While white people across America are seemingly calling the police on people of color for innocuous acts in public, one community took a different approach, helping a teen trying to make some extra money get his vendor permit.

Jaequan Faulkner, a 13-year-old boy from Minneapolis, said he loves to cook hotdogs for people in his community. He’s been doing it since 2016, when he borrowed an old roaster from his uncle and started selling the food outside of his home.

The money helped Jaequan buy clothing and shoes, but it was also an opportunity for him to bring joy to others, the boy said.

“It’s the cooking and the people,” Jaequan explained when asked why he likes to cook. “I see someone go by with a frown on their face. I’m there with a smile, then I see a smile on their face. I just made a smile on somebody’s face by selling them a hot dog.”

Somebody didn’t smile, apparently, and soon Jaequan had to shut his stand down because of a complaint that he didn’t have a permit. The story could have ended there, with outrage over his being shut down — but city officials weren’t about to let that happen.

The Minneapolis Department of Health decided that a kid with a hot dog stand deserved to keep on selling those hot dogs.

“When I realized what it was, I said, ‘No, we’re not going to just go and shut him down’ like we would an unlicensed vendor,” the city’s Environmental Health Director Dan Huff said. “We can help him get the permit. Let’s make this a positive thing and help him become a business owner.”

Health inspectors from Huff’s department reached out to Jaequan and offered to help him with ways to get his permit, teaching him the ins and outs of being a vendor in the city. They also gave him thermometers and other tools that would help his business.

A local nonprofit also stepped in. The Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON), which works to help “underserved entrepreneurs” in the community, helped Jaequan to know the differences in temporary business permits and permanent ones, and also set up a Facebook page for the teen’s hot dogs.

Jaequan got his permit, which lasts for 10 days. After that, it appears that he’ll be moving his business to other locations that will sponsor his next temporary permits, including the police station, a church, and The Urban League.

Where other cities would probably ignore Jaequan’s stand being shut down, Minneapolis showed how to be an exemplary city and helped this boy get his business back. Individuals need to stop complaining about people of color simply existing in their neighborhoods — but when such incidents do occur, cities should do what Minneapolis did and work to help those who were wrongly harassed.

Banner/thumbnail image credit: BHarner30/Pixabay

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