Street Vendor Who Reported Times Square Bomber Plans to Enter Politics

Duane Jackson, the salesman who alerted police about a car bomb in May 2010, says the experience prompted him to get more involved in his city.

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Richard Drew / AP

In an April 27, 2011 photo, Duane Jackson, one of the first people to alert police officers to a suspicious vehicle that contained a crude bomb in New York's Times Square in May 2010, works at his stand.

Duane Jackson, who helped to thwart a terrorist attack in Times Square in 2010, plans to enter the political arena, according to the Associated Press. The 69-year-old T-shirt and purse vendor plans to run for the Democratic nomination to take on Nan Hayworth, the Republican incumbent, for the House seat in the 19th district, located north of New York City. And so far, he seems pretty confident.

“I’m not going to have $200,000 for the primary,” Jackson told the Associated Press. “But I’m an ordinary guy, and I think I can get out the Democratic base.”

When the car bombing scare happened nearly two years ago, Jackson and two fellow vendors, Alioune Niasse and Lance Orton, had been minding their own business, selling purses and in Times Square when they spotted an idled, seemingly abandoned SUV that looked suspicious, TIME reported in 2010.

The car started to emit smoke while Jackson called the authorities. Little did he know the van was armed with a fertilizer and gasoline bomb staged by Faisal Shahzad, who was subsequently sent to prison for life, TIME’s Mark Thompson noted.

“It was kind of an epiphany for me,” Jackson told the Associated Press when recalling the car bombing. “I had a call from President Obama. I had people from all over the world come and thank me for, you know, seeing something and saying something. I can tell people, especially young people and people in the minority communities, it’s OK to get involved in the running of this country.”

A disabled Navy veteran who suffered a back injury during the Vietnam War, Jackson’s record is pretty impressive. According to the AP and his campaign website, he has been a small-business owner for 20 years, has 15 years of professional experience in city planning, transportation and housing and also has served on the New York City Board of Education.

What’s on his platform so far? According to his website, Jackson plans to offer greater support to senior citizens, improve job growth and work toward energy independence. As a neighbor of New York’s Indian Point nuclear facilities, Jackson is in favor of 20-year licenses that would give the area time to adopt new sources of power, the AP reports.

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