Street vendors are an iconic part of the Los Angeles food scene but many are growing more and more concerned as they become targets for smash-and-grab robberies.
Cameras caught a recent attack where a woman dumped out tins full of food and poured out barrels of horchata at the “South Tacos Stand” before attacking vendor Bertha Zuniga on the corner of Slauson and Normandie Avenues Saturday night. Before leaving, the woman spit on everything she had not already trashed.
While she was nervous to speak out, Zuniga said the woman started destroying her spot after workers asked her to wait until they were fully set up.
“They’re scared to speak out,” said chef and street vendor advocate Jimmy Saucez. “That’s why they’re attacking them because they feel like they’re not gonna say anything.
“I think they’re just trying to get something for nothing and so by robbing and stealing and just attacking people it’s an easy way to get something they want.”
Workers said that it took police nearly an hour to respond.
“I think the police are overwhelmed with what’s going on… but I wish they would respond just a little faster,” said Saucez. “At the end of the day, if it’s a robbery, it’s a robbery. If it’s an assault, it’s an assault. They should be there as soon as possible.”
Despite the attacks, a community of foodies has made supporting vendors after these incidents a regular habit.
“You have to express support in some way, shape or form — especially when somebody’s kicked down like that, it takes a community to get them back up.”
Workers said they’ve been attacked more in the past year than any other of the past 12 years since they first set up on the corner.
The owner said that they cannot move to another corner because they would lose a lot of business because of other competition on the different streets and corners.