Street food is the life-blood of a city’s culture, and this is especially true for Los Angeles. The sight of an iconic rainbow colored umbrella at a fruit cart is like finding a desert oasis in the LA heat. When bar-goers have had their fill of overpriced cocktails on a Friday night, there’s a vendor waiting right outside dishing out delicious cures to inevitable hangovers. Some vendors become beloved local celebrities, but all perform an essential function whether it be culturally or economically.
This largely Latino comprised workforce has shaped the city’s food identity, but now they’re having to fight to keep their jobs. On Tuesday, vendors marched in protest of LA Alfresco, an initiative that provided regulations for restaurants to begin reopening, but excluded protections for street vendors. Mayor Garcetti announced that enforcement has been “relaxed” for street vendors in a vague statement that does little towards offering a solution.
Powerful words from activist and street vendor Caridad Vasquez. It’s time our street vendors receive the same rights as other small businesses!
— Latino Community Fdn (@LatinoCommFdn) June 12, 2020
The struggle to decriminalize street vending in Los Angeles has been a long battle that forces small business owners to navigate overbearing rules and regulations. In late 2018, LA City Council voted a new set of rules to allow street vendors to operate without the threat of having their supplies confiscated, and in some cases even facing deportation. Now due to COVID-19, vendors find themselves having to voice their frustration again in order to enjoy some of the same protections as more permanent storefronts.
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Photos from today’s street vendor action at @lapublichealth. For years, street vendors have been asking for support in obtaining permits, affordable carts, and other resources. They continue to be treated like second class citizens. #COVID19 has hurt them more than ever before, and instead of a helping hand, the Department threatens them with $1,000 fines and criminal penalties. They are demanding to be part of our economy and we should take their lead. Major love to Vendedores en Acción and @cpcolectivo who organized this for the LA Street Vendor Campaign. (Swipe to the right to see the “hot dogs” full of citations that the vendors left on the Department’s door steps.)
You may ask yourself: “what can I do to help?” You can get a jump start by checking out our article on ways for Latinos to get involved with the protests for social justice – many of these methods are interchangeable!
We formed the Street Vendor Emergency Fund with our partners at @elaccOrg and @PublicCounsel. This fund will provide direct cash assistance to street vendors who will not be able to access government support as a result of #COVID19US. https://t.co/EF7jkMfHeB
— Inclusive Action for the City (@InclusivAction) March 20, 2020