Long Beach street vendors cited after calling police to report attack, community steps in to help

Two street vendors who were taunted and had their carts vandalized in Long Beach are now showing their appreciation after the community stepped in to help.

Eliu Ramirez is a proud street vendor who said he has recently been insulted and taunted by a group of neighborhood kids in Long Beach.

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"I stopped for them and after a few minutes, they walked away and said they were wasting my time and called me dumb," said Ramirez.  

On Monday, Ramirez said he encountered the same kids, but did not stop for them. Cell phone video captured the aftermath of the incident where some of the kids and the adults with them called Ramirez "racist," and one kid is seen throwing an item while yelling back and forth with the vendors.

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"I did not look behind me, and then the kids poured cold water on my back," said Ramirez.

Ramirez' friend, Jose, who is also a vendor, saw what happened and tried to help.

"I was walking down the street when suddenly the kids began assaulting my friend [Ramirez] and therefore, I tried to help because it happens regularly on the same street. Within minutes, more people arrived [with the group] and the attack happened," said Jose.

Jose said his cart was vandalized too. Jose said he does not understand English well and was not able to understand what the kids were yelling, but could tell they were upset.

The group of three minors and two adults reportedly threw items from Jose and Ramirez' carts to the ground.

When Ramirez called the Long Beach Police Department for help, police arrived but ended up issuing tickets to the vendors for not having a license to sell. The tickets cost nearly 900 dollars.

"I was frustrated. I asked the police why they gave me a ticket when I was the victim and they said it was to be fair to everyone," said Ramirez.

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Police also issued a vandalism citation to one of the women who was with the kids.

After word spread about the incident with the kids and police on social media, the Long Beach Police Department issued a statement saying it would void the tickets, and the tickets were given against their policy.

Tito Rodriguez, commonly known as "Hood Santa" was contacted about the attack on the vendors too.

"I woke up and I had about 400 messages about the attack. Me being from Long Beach, everybody sent it to me for my philanthropy stuff I do in the city [nonprofit organization called 'Local Hearts Foundation'], everybody thought that maybe I can do something and help and I wanted to do that as soon as I saw the video, I said hey this is wrong," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is organizing a community event for Saturday at 1 p.m. at 20th and Cedar Streets, encouraging the community to support the vendors and buy their products.

"We're gonna show that the community loves street vendors," he said.

The vendors said they are grateful for the event, and the help with their GoFundMe account following lost product and lost wages from the incident.

"I feel good because I know that there are angels [community members] behind me that are concerned about us, vendors. I am happy too because we are going to be at the event and we are going to see all of the support from people," said Ramirez.

However, the vendors said the attacks happen regularly.

"This is not the first time that this has happened. There have been a lot of things that have happened to vendors like us, and day after day, we work to pay bills, to eat, for our rent, and to live practically," said Jose.

The vendors and Rodriguez believe elected officials should step in to help put an end to the

"We see this happen over and over. It's time for our politicians to get involved and call it what it is, it's a hate crime. They're being attacked and it's time for us to come together as people and say enough is enough. We had to stop Asian hate, and in a month's time, we had politicians write a law for them. It's time for them to create a hashtag, maybe stop vendor hate, stop Latino hate, just stop hate period," said Rodriguez.

The Long Beach Police Department issued a statement:

"On May 24, 2021, a mobile food vendor called Police Dispatch to report being the victim of a battery/vandalism incident.

Responding officers determined an altercation occurred between several individuals— including a female adult and two male adult vendors, which escalated to the female adult damaging products on one of the vendors' carts.

The female adult was cited for vandalism.

While on-scene, officers also cited two vendors for not having proper licenses to operate. This is against our Department’s practice and the citations will be voided. Department employees will be reminded of this to ensure there is no confusion with our officers regarding this practice."

Detectives are investigating allegations of racial slurs that were used during the altercation.