After a man selling peanuts and other goods on the street in South Los Angeles was viciously beaten and robbed earlier this month, street vendors returned to the spot Wednesday night to call on city officials to create a better system of permitting and regulating their trade.
Pedro Reyes has been discharged from the hospital but is still recovering after being attacked by a group of robbers in the early morning hours of March 18 in the area of South San Pedro and East 31st streets, and his assailants remain at large.
Area street vendors gathered near the intersection Wednesday in support of Reyes and to send a message about the unsafe conditions they face on the job every day.
"I feel afraid," vendor Yolanda Granados said through a translator. "What happened to Pedro could happen to happen to any one of us."
Reyes' family says he was left with a fractured face, broken jaw and several missing teeth. Two other vendors were also injured in the incident, but Reyes was beaten the most brutally because he had attempted to flee.
Granados said Reyes used to set up near her cart, but he moved when the area became too busy.
Abraham Zabala, an L.A. street vendor community organizer, is pushing for the city to set up a permitting process that would make vendors less vulnerable to crime.
"Pedro Reyes was here at 4 in the morning trying to set up to vend because oftentimes vendors don't have any guidance to where and how they can set up," he told KTLA. "We hear from vendors daily as to how they're violence, of extortion by property owners trying to get rent from them for a public sidewalk. If the city were to value street vendors and provide them with a pathway to actually vend safely and surely, then this would probably have a different outcome."
The Los Angeles City Council has proposed some rules for the activity, but officials are still early on in the regulation process and has received pushback on the proposal that vendors say favors storefront businesses.