Los Angeles Times

Proposal to protect street vendors

- By Nathan Solis Times staff writer Gregory Yee contribute­d to this report.

what would be a first for California, Santa Ana city officials considered Tuesday whether they can classify attacks against street vendors as hate crimes, which could offer additional safeguards for vendors in the predominan­tly Latino city.

Councilman Jonathan Ryan Hernandez, 29, said that he’s noticed an increase in attacks against street vendors and that viral videos seem to show a pattern of verbal and physical assaults with an undercurre­nt of anti-Latino racism.

“These aren’t robberies. These people are not having their food stolen; they’re not having their shopping carts taken from them,” Hernandez said. “They’re getting beaten up and spit at, and then these people are walking away.”

Hernandez introduced the proposal at Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting, where council members discussed whether such a rule would be possible.

“I believe this is an issue of discrimina­tion,” Hernandez said. “Let’s call it what it is. It’s racism.”

The council members and Mayor Vicente Sarmiento were supportive of acting to protect vendors, but some said they were concerned that vendors can’t be considered a protected class under state law.

Sarmiento and council members Thai Viet Phan and David Penaloza said they wanted city staff to look into whether a hate crime enhancemen­t for attacks on street vendors would be enforceabl­e if enacted.

“I would hate to adopt something that would have to be repealed,” the mayor said.

The matter will be sent to city staff for further reIn search. No vote was held Tuesday night.

Hernandez, whose family is from Jalisco, Guadalajar­a, in Mexico, said there is not enough support for street vendors and the immigrant community in Santa Ana. He wants to change that with his proposal.

“We’re in their corner,” Hernandez said. “They’re not alone. And for anybody who thinks that disrespect­ing street vendors is acceptable, we’re looking to hold them accountabl­e.”

Hernandez said he hopes his proposal could be a model for other jurisdicti­ons across California.

Elsewhere in the region, cities including Anaheim and Santa Monica have cracked down on street vending, blocking unpermitte­d vendors from selling in certain areas.

The Orange County district attorney’s office and the Santa Ana Police Department did not immediatel­y respond to requests for comment about attacks against street vendors or about whether there has been an increase in reports of assaults on Latino residents.

Last year, Cudahy resident Edin Enamorado armed Los Angeles street vendors with pepper spray, Tasers and in some instances personal security after a string of attacks in Long Beach, as reported by L.A. Taco.

Senior organizer Sergio Jimenez of the Community Power Collective’s Street Vendor Justice program said more recorded attacks against street vendors may be going viral, but it’s mainly because street vendors are taking back some agency and recording their attackers.

 ?? Raul Roa Times Community News ?? TOMAS ESCAMILLA sets up his stand in Woodland Hills after his cart was destroyed in a recent attack.
Raul Roa Times Community News TOMAS ESCAMILLA sets up his stand in Woodland Hills after his cart was destroyed in a recent attack.

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