A street vendor in Long Beach says he called police for assistance after being harassed by a woman Monday, but responding officers ended up ticketing him and a fellow vendor for lacking the proper licensing.
Eliu Ramirez told his story in a video that’s since garnered thousands of views on social media. After the video went viral, the Long Beach Police Department said it would rescind the citations.
The video of Ramirez was posted by Tito Rodriguez, who is well known as Hood Santa for his work with the Long Beach nonprofit Local Hearts Foundation. In the video, Ramirez says in Spanish that the harassment started when multiple people called out to him on the street to “wait up” because they wanted to buy something.
When they finally approached him, Ramirez said they told him they were only trying to waste his time, at which point they called him “stupid” and “dumb.”
“I kept walking,” Ramirez said in the video. “When they caught up to me further ahead, they threw cold water on my back and then their sisters showed up and they overturned items on my cart and items on another cart belonging to another vendor we came across at that time.”
Police confirmed they were called about the situation. In a statement, the LBPD said officers arrived and determined a woman had been in an altercation with Ramirez and another street vendor, which ended with the woman damaging Ramirez’s product.
Images and video of the scene show food and other goods strewn on the ground as well as Ramirez’s shirt soaked with water. Detectives are also investigating allegations that racial slurs were used during the attack, police said.
Police said officers cited the woman for vandalism but also cited Ramirez and a second street vendor for lacking proper licensing.
In the Instagram video, Ramirez said he thought police were going to help when they showed up “and instead they gave us a ticket.” Rodriquez tells Ramirez not to worry about the ticket, saying the community would help pay the fine and any legal fees.
But in Wednesday’s statement, the LBPD said the officers should not have cited the vendors in this situation and that employees will be reminded of this to ensure there is no further confusion.
“This is against our Department’s practice and the citations will be voided,” the statement said in part.
— Long Beach PD (CA) (@LBPD) May 27, 2021
In another Instagram post, Rodriguez thanked community members for speaking out about the incident.
“Our voice was heard,” he wrote. “The goal is to get our politicians to get involved, to create some laws to protect our street vendors and prosecute those who are committing these hate crimes against them,” Rodriguez wrote in another post.
A GoFundMe set up by Ramirez has raised nearly $3,500 of its $5,000 goal in one day. Rodriguez is urging the community to buy out Ramirez’s cart Saturday at 20th Street and Cedar Avenue, the location of the attack. The event is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m.
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