WILKINSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — A mother is shocked and confused after she says police told her 13-year-old son to leave the roadside where he was selling water to drivers.
Zyiere Jones sells water at the intersection of Swissvale Avenue and Walnut Street between Edgewood and Wilkinsburg to earn money for Kennywood tickets and sneakers. He says he was told to move for breaking a borough ordinance.
“Not to sound ignorant or anything, but I knew it was going to happen because of his color of his skin,” said Zyiere’s mother, Ky.
Zyiere sells water seven days a week, eight hours a day with his friends.
“I’m too young to have a job. Sometimes I like buying myself new shoes or stuff I need,” Zyiere said.
They are out near the busy intersection of Swissvale and Walnut, selling cold drinks to thirsty drivers. In the winter, they shovel snow.
They call themselves the “snow brothers.”
“I feel good if I get it myself so I know I got myself,” Zyiere said.
On Friday, the friends sold more than 100 bottles of water and Gatorade. But two days ago, they said they were stopped by the police.
Zyiere says two Edgewood police officers stopped him and said neighbors were complaining that the teens were too loud. The police also said they could not sell there without a permit, according to Zyiere.
The police made the teenagers move across the street to where Swissvale Avenue crosses into Wilkinsburg.
“When I first saw him, I was scared. That’s just a normal reaction because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Zyiere said.
“I’m confused still. He’s very respectful, but you can be respectful and still get beat down,” Ky said.
Wilkinsburg council members say permits are needed in the borough, but the young entrepreneurs are welcomed there as long as they keep the area clean.
“I think by operating this little business he has, it is a wonderful learning opportunity and I wish more kids could do it,” said Wilkinsburg Councilman Ian Petrulli.
Council members would like to connect the teenagers with the Wilkinsburg Development Committee to help expand the already thriving business.
“It’s better than being in the streets and selling drugs. This is honest money right here,” Zyiere said.
KDKA reached out to officials in Edgewood but no one was available.