In collaboration with street vendors, community groups, and other legal organizations, the Guild has been pushing back on Los Angeles' harsh anti-vending policies. We started in MacArthur Park, targeting law enforcement's harassment and ticketing of vendors, as well as property confiscations. The Guild's collaboration with Union del Barrio and Union de Vendedores Ambulantes, protesting at the Rampart Station and meeting with law enforcement officials resulted in a big win: LAPD has stopped ticketing and confiscating property in and around MacArthur Park. This victory was also due in part to the report the Guild submitted to the LAPD last December 14, 2014, on property confiscations.
We've now moved onto the Garment District where confiscations, ticketing, and harassment by LAPD is ongoing. In the Garment District, the LAPD collaborates with security hired through the Business Improvement District ("BID"). Guild members Cynthia Anderson-Barker, Gilbert Saucedo, Ken Montenegro, Daniel Ortiz and others have been going to the Garment District on weekends to interview vendors, organizing with them, and collaborating with the ACLU and Legal Aid on a legal strategy.
On September 2, 2015, the Guild, along with Union del Barrio and the Union de Vendedores Ambulantes, held a protest at the Mayor's office with high school students whose parents are street vendors. We demanded the Mayor take immediate action to support a city-wide ordinance to legalize street vending and to put a moratorium on ticketing and confiscations until an ordinance is passed. As a result, the Mayor's office invited the Guild to a meeting at LAPD Headquarters on September 29th. The Guild, along with several vendors, met with LAPD brass and the Mayor's staff. We were able to secure a commitment that enforcement of the park vending ordinance is not an LAPD priority and the Mayor's office reiterated that the Mayor supports a city-wide vending ordinance. LAPD agreed to re-examine law enforcement activities against street vendors in the Garment District, reviewing the legality of their operations.
The Guild has also collaborated with UCLA Law School's Criminal Defense Clinic and law professor Ingrid Eagly to defend 80-year old street vendor Rosa Calderon who received seven tickets from the same LAPD officer last Christmas season for selling Christmas ornaments and water on the street. One of her cases is now before the California Court of Appeal, challenging how the burden of proof is analyzed in an infraction case.
Law students from around Los Angeles have also been instrumental in assisting vendors at our legal clinics.
If you are interested in learning more and are planning to attend the Guild Convention in Oakland, our chapter is sponsoring a CLE, Street Vending: Challenging the Criminalization of Workers, which will explore the role of legal and community advocacy in challenging the criminalization of street vending in Los Angeles. Representatives of the Union del Vendedores Ambulantes will present their fight-back strategies on a panel with a UCLA Law School Criminal Defense Clinic representative as well as a community organizer from Union del Barrio.
If you would like to get involved with the NLG Street Vendor Project please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.