Rose Garden Resident

San Jose officials speak out against assaults on downtown food vendors

- By Austin Turner aturner@ bayareanew­

In the wake of a pair of high-profile instances of assaults against San Jose immigrant food vendors, city leadership and Latino rights advocates publicly denounced the attacks during a news conference outside City Hall Feb. 23.

“I'm outraged this is happening across our city,” said San Jose Councilmem­ber Omar Torres, who represents much of downtown in District 3. “I want to emphasize this is an ongoing attack on our small businesses and our street vendors. They make our city great.”

The first of the two incidents took place outside the SAP Center after a concert Feb. 16. A video that went viral on social media showed a bloodied street vendor on the ground while a man walked away after assaulting the vendor.

The vendor was hospitaliz­ed, and the San Jose Police Department said Feb. 21 that the case was still an active investigat­ion.

The second incident involved a street vendor set up Feb. 18 near Intex Auto Parts on the 1400 block of Old Bayshore Highway. An employee of the shop, later identified as 43-year-old Kenny Ho, allegedly approached the vendor with a baseball bat and told him to leave the area.

On the video of the incident, Ho was seen repeatedly hitting the vendor's cart with the bat while saying “this is illegal.” He then briefly entered the vendor's red pickup truck. The vendor later declined medical attention, police said.

Ho was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and attempted carjacking, according to San Jose police.

Ho apologized for his actions

in a statement released by a representa­tive.

“I deeply regret my treatment of the gentleman who set up a vending location outside of my family's auto parts store. I cannot explain or justify my actions, but I can say that, until Saturday, I have always treated others with the respect and considerat­ion that my family instilled in me. I failed to do so here and am ashamed of my conduct. I will ensure that I never treat others in this way again.”

Ho also said his father was an immigrant himself, and he believed the vendor's location violated zoning laws and “contribute­d to other public safety concerns.”

In a video posted to Twitter on Feb. 21, SJPD Sgt. Christian Camarillo said the two incidents were “isolated.”

“These are two completely isolated incidents, one from the other,” he said. “They have nothing to do with each other, other than the victims are vendors. We are very empathetic to everyone's needs, especially our vendors that are out there trying to make a living.”

During the news conference Feb. 23, Torres said the vendors simply were seeking the American dream and called for a stop to the “discrimina­tion,

insults, humiliatio­n as well as loss of property” to food vendors. Multiple City Councilmem­bers claimed that more incidents go unreported but didn't disclose specific incidents.

“It was truly a tragedy to hear that our city has experience­d not one but two violent attacks on our street vendors within days of each other,” said Councilmem­ber Rosemary Kamei, who represents District 1. “We understand that there may be under-reporting of these incidents due to the immigratio­n status (of the victims). I today would like to urge you to always report to the San Jose Police Department if you are a victim, regardless of immigratio­n status.”

Among other speakers were Jorge Rosales, a vendor from the Berryessa Flea Market; Jesus Flores of the Latino Business Foundation; and San Jose City councilmem­bers Domingo Candelas (District 8) and Peter Ortiz (District 5).

“(Food vendors) are literally under attack,” Candelas said. “This vigilante justice is not only despicable, but a detriment to our city as well as our community. We must do better and we must come together as a community.”

 ?? KARL MONDON — STAFF ARCHIVES ?? The city of San Jose has denounced attacks on food vendors in the downtown area.
KARL MONDON — STAFF ARCHIVES The city of San Jose has denounced attacks on food vendors in the downtown area.

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