Street Vendors in Los Angeles Protest Police Harassment

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Dozens of Los Angeles street vendors protested in front of LAPD headquarters on March 31, Cesar Chavez Day, and in the name of 50,000 vendors throughout the city, delivered a “ticket” to police for the crime of harassment, intimidation and damages to the livelihood of thousands of families. Two weeks previously, many marched from the MacArthur Park area, where for decades street vendors have sold on the streets, to the local Rampart police station, demanding a moratorium on ticketing vendors. The LA Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and several community organizations are supporting the vendors.

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“Many of us are seniors, and nobody will hire us,” a woman in her 50s, who had spread out handbags and caps on the sidewalk, told Revolution. “Or they want work permits. This is the only way left to us to make a living.” Another, who was grilling the famous “street dogs,” said that she had many times over paid the tickets, which were often more than $200 or $300. “Often the police come, and the people run away, leaving all their goods on the sidewalk. They lose absolutely everything. I said, no way, that’s too much money for me to lose, I’m not going to run away, even if they give me a ticket.”

One street vendor described how 10 officers on horseback and four patrol cars raided vendors at Hansen Dam in Pacoima in northern Los Angeles. “They dedicated themselves to pursuing all of us. None of us could escape.” (Los Angeles Times, March 31, 2015) He sells food there once a week to provide for his family in Mexico; the $250 ticket that police gave him wiped out his whole day’s earnings.

A protester told La Opinion newspaper that during the two years that she has been selling pupusas on a downtown corner, she has been ticketed some 10 times. “They harass us, they insult us, they take all the merchandise, the grills, the baskets, everything, they throw the food in the trash and fine us... they let us work for a while just to swoop in with tickets of up to $500, we’re a money-making venture for them.”

“They give us tickets and take our things, but on the ticket doesn’t specify what goods they confiscated, so you can’t claim them,” mentioned another vendor.

Many vendors and pedestrians in the area enthusiastically received whistles, newspapers and stacks of flyers about April 14, Shut It Down.

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