LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The street vending community of Los Angeles came together to hold a vigil Wednesday for a seller who was brutally beaten recently, and leaders of the movement said this horrific incident elucidates the need to legalize street vending in L.A.
Nearly two weeks after the assault that left Pedro Daniel Reyes with a broken jaw and facial fractures, the 54-year-old, part-time fruit vendor is at home with critical injuries.
At Wednesday’s vigil near the site of the attack, congregants lit candles for Reyes, who was beaten by several men and a woman as he attempted to set up his cart in the early morning hours of March 18.
Street vending campaign organizers said Reyes’ situation shows why vendors need a safe, legal place to sell their products.
“I think it would have a different outcome,” said Abraham Zavala, organizer with the L.A. Street Vendor campaign. “For example, Pedro Reyes was setting up at 4 a.m. in the morning, and the fact that any vendor — one of the biggest issues with vendors, of them trying to actually make a living, is having a space.”
Last summer, video of a sidewalk vendor’s cart being overturned by an angry pedestrian went viral, and organizers said the same thing back then: legalize street vending.
Footage from a nearby security camera captured the moment Reyes and two other street vendors were attacked near the corner of San Pedro and 31st streets in South L.A. The video shows four to five men and one woman jump out of two vehicles and approach Reyes.
Police said Reyes gave into the assailants’ demands for money, but that they threw him to the ground anyway and went through his pockets. They believe more people other than the ones in the video were involved in the robbery.
Reyes underwent surgery for his injuries the day after the incident
The L.A. City Council has approved a $25,000 reward for information leading to the suspects’ capture.
A GoFundMe campaign was set up for Reyes by his stepson. It has since surpassed its goal of $150,000 by nearly $9,000.
Last month, State Sen. Ricardo Lara, whose District 33 includes parts of Huntington Park, Paramount and Long Beach, introduced SB 946, which would bar local authorities from regulating street vendors if they were to go through the appropriate permitting process.
The L.A. City Council last year adopted a measure that no longer considers street vending a misdemeanor.
SB 946 remains in committee.