On Feb. 6, the El Monte Police Department brutally tackled, assaulted and arrested local street vendor, Los Palomos, in the intersection of Valley Blvd and Mountain View Road in Los Angeles County’s San Gabriel Valley. This is another in a widespread series of attacks on street vendors in the area.
The EMPD, accompanied by a local health inspector, attempted to shut down Los Palomos’ stall and discard their food and drinks. The owners of the taco stand rightfully tried to defend their business against confiscation and were supported by customers and surrounding community members. El Monte PD, intimidated by the community support, escalated the situation by calling for back-up police to flood the area. A convoy of police cars rushed to the scene with a police helicopter circling overhead.
The nearly dozen cops further escalated the situation, leading to multiple officers tackling one owner while other officers brutally beat the second vendor’s upper head and body with a flashlight. The EMPD arrested the two owners despite the protest of the workers and customers.
In recent months, local city officials and the police have attempted to drive out local vendors using intimidation tactics and sabotaging business by confiscating and destroying business equipment.
“For months city officials have been showing up and damaging the property of street vendors,” Krystal, a local vendor and witness to the incident, told Liberation News. ”They’ve cut vendors’ lights, contaminated their water, put things in their BBQ, and thrown out their food and drinks.”
Other community members present at the scene told Liberation News that despite ongoing harassment, local vendors and members of the community are afraid to take a stand as many are undocumented immigrants and fear retaliation from ICE. According to Data USA, as of 2018, among the 57,000 El Monte residents, 49.9% were born outside the United States.
The people of El Monte and greater San Gabriel Valley must defend and ensure the safety of our fellow community members from the repressive, racist local and county government. The need for community defense is especially urgent when El Monte has the highest rates of COVID-19 in a region that has recently been the epicenter of the global pandemic.
Photo credit: Los Palomos