Street ven­dors protest tick­et­ing

Demon­stra­tors say the LAPD should not be cit­ing them as the city irons out a path to make them legal.

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Brit­tny Me­jia brit­tny.me­jia@la­times.com

Say­ing they are in­creas­ingly tar­geted by po­lice, dozens of street ven­dors and their al­lies protested Tues­day out­side LAPD head­quar­ters to ask for a mora­to­rium on be­ing tick­eted for sell­ing food and wares on the streets.

The protest comes amid ef­forts to le­gal­ize street vend­ing in Los An­ge­les.

Mem­bers of the Los An­ge­les Street Ven­dor Cam­paign and other ven­dors and al­lies gath­ered in front of the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment, car­ry­ing signs that read, “We need le­gal­iza­tion now” and “We are not crim­i­nals” while chant­ing “Sí, se puede ,” the motto of the United Farm Work­ers and other union and civil rights groups.

The group of about 30 also car­ried a list of griev­ances they planned to give to Po­lice Chief Char­lie Beck.

Al­fonso Garcia, a street ven­dor in the San Fer­nando Val­ley, said a month ago there were 10 of­fi­cers on horse­back and four pa­trol cars who par­tic­i­pated in a raid at Hansen Dam in Pa­coima, where he works.

“None of us could es­cape,” Garcia said.

He said he sells food once a week at Hansen Dam to pro­vide for his fam­ily in Mex­ico. The 53-year-old said he re­ceived a $250 ticket in one po­lice crack­down, an amount he says it takes nearly a full day for him to earn.

In ad­di­tion to street ven­dors, Cyn­thia An­der­son-Barker, an at­tor­ney with the Na­tional Lawyers Guild, also spoke about al­leged po­lice ha­rass­ment.

An­der­son-Barker cited an agree­ment with LAPD’s Ram­part di­vi­sion not to con­fis­cate prop­erty or give tick­ets if ven­dors aren’t block­ing side­walks or busi­ness en­trances and are not sell­ing pi­rated goods.

“We’re call­ing on LAPD to­day to do what the cap­tain of the Ram­part di­vi­sion re­cently agreed to do,” An­der­son-Barker said. “LAPD can do this, they should do it now.”

At one point, Garcia, joined by An­der­son-Barker and an­other street ven­dor, went in­side LAPD head­quar­ters to give their griev­ances to Beck. Cmdr. An­drew Smith lis­tened qui­etly as the two ven­dors asked for the de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion of street vend­ing.

Smith took the list and ex­plained that the LAPD can’t legally ig­nore the sales of coun­ter­feit prod­ucts or per­mit street ven­dors to block en­trances of build­ings. Smith said of­fi­cers try to get vol­un­tary co­op­er­a­tion from ven­dors.

“We’re not in the busi­ness of go­ing af­ter peo­ple that are sell­ing food or sell­ing items like that on the street. That is the health depart­ment,” Smith said.

Smith added that the LAPD has al­ready met with the lawyers guild and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of dif­fer­ent ven­dor groups.

“We’ve got good co­op­er­a­tion from the folks that we have met with,” Smith said. “We’re wait­ing to see what the city does with re­spect to mak­ing vend­ing legal in cer­tain ar­eas.”

Tues­day’s rally comes amid ef­forts to le­gal­ize street vend­ing in the city. Late last year, an L.A. coun­cil com­mit­tee took a step to­ward le­gal­iz­ing and reg­u­lat­ing street vend­ing, dis­cussing how sell­ers could ob­tain city per­mits.

But for many, ef­forts aren’t mov­ing fast enough.

“The ur­gency in City Hall is not meet­ing the need on the out­side,” said Mike Den­nis, a spokesman for the Los An­ge­les Street Ven­dor Cam­paign. “We’re ask­ing for LAPD to slow down while City Hall gets its act to­gether and moves.”

For Lorena Gali­cia, 31, hid­ing from po­lice has be­come a way of life. Gali­cia said she has sold ras­pa­dos at Hansen Dam ev­ery Satur­day and Sun­day for the last eight years. But in the last few years, she said, she’s seen an in­creased po­lice pres­ence.

She said that when her young chil­dren heard po­lice telling ven­dors they had to leave or they would get tick­eted, they asked her to ex­plain why she didn’t have per­mis­sion to sell goods.

“They worry be­cause they know if I work then there’s money to buy them what they need,” Gali­cia said. “I told them not to worry. To­mor­row we’re go­ing to keep work­ing.”

Al Seib Los An­ge­les Times

STREET VEN­DOR Cari­dad Vasquez joins other ven­dors and sup­port­ers at a rally at LAPD head­quar­ters, where a list of griev­ances was given to po­lice.

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