Militant Journalism

El Monte taco vendors and community: ‘LA County Department of Public Health, stop harassing us!’

Community members gathered on Feb. 13 in front of the El Monte Police Department in solidarity with local street vendors. This action comes a week after a violent attack by an LA County health inspector and EMPD on the Los Palomos taco stand. Community members and organizations such as ACAB El Monte, Revolutionary Socialists for the People of El Monte, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation Los Angeles called the action for justice.

Photo: Diego Sanchez

Various members shared their frustration and anger about the events from the week prior. Ian, a high school student, described: “A lot of these vendors come from other countries, speak other languages, but they will show you [more] respect and hospitality than anyone else you’ve ever met. They feed and serve the community with a smile and kind words. These vendors truly put the word friendly in ‘Friendly El Monte.’”

“Friendly El Monte” is a phrase the city uses on welcome signs in public, but the city’s residents would paint a different picture after the attack that took place on Feb.6. 

Long-time local taco vendor Calisco Tacos also gave an emotional testimony. “I can’t find the words to describe what we’ve been through, as well as my son who has to go through it. That’s what breaks my heart right now. … I understand there’s laws and ways of doing things but sometimes we cannot afford them. … Some of them say why don’t you just get a permit?”

He shared sentiments similar to other vendors about the lack of funding and how local vendors often have to start from the bottom. This is in line with the incredibly expensive license and permit fees for food vendors charged by the LA County Department of Health.

Los Palomos also called for an end to violence against street vendors. Another street vendor, Felipe, told Liberation News: “Los Palomos also called for an end to violence against street vendors. … I think there are many more things that the police department has to focus on [instead of] intimidating taco and street vendors.”

The rally ended after a two-block march from the EMPD station to the Los Palomos stand.

Featured image: Diego Sanchez

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