San Jose officials have a message for street vendors: report any attacks, because the city is listening.
San Jose’s Latino councilmembers and a coalition of a dozen local advocates gathered Thursday to reassert their commitment to protect street vendors and highlighted services available to them following recent attacks on two vendors near downtown.
“Street vendors are honest, hardworking members of our community. And as such, we will continue to do right by them advocating for their safety, protection and freedom to work,” Vice Mayor Rosemary Kamei said. “I would like to urge you to always report to the police department if you’re a victim, regardless of immigration status.”
Kamei, along with Councilmembers Omar Torres, Domingo Candelas and Peter Ortiz, worry vendors are not reporting attacks because of fears related to immigration status or whether they’ve obtained the necessary permits to legally operate. Councilmembers attempted to soothe these fears by reassuring residents that officers do not ask about citizenship status. Torres said he and other councilmembers are exploring options such as providing assistance to pay for permits or restitution for vendors who have been affected.
The first attack occurred last Thursday. Hot dog vendor Saul Reconco was brutally beaten outside the SAP Center after he refused to give a customer free food. The suspect was caught on camera kicking Recono while he was face-down on the floor. He was hospitalized with a fractured nose, three loose teeth and a bruised eye and face.
Vendor Carlos Sanchez was attacked just a few days later by an auto parts employee who ordered Sanchez to leave the property outside the auto business on Old Bayshore Highway. The suspect, Kintex Ho, is facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon and attempted carjacking. Video shows Ho striking Sanchez’s barbecue grill with a baseball bat before turning to attack Sanchez. He then climbed inside Sanchez’s pickup truck in an attempt to move it before confronting Sanchez again and hitting him with the bat. Deputy Police Chief Brian Shab said the incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Shab said those are only two attacks that police know were reported this year, but noted more may have gone unreported. There were six crimes reported last year, including assault, aggravated assault and robbery of vendors, he said.
“I don’t anticipate there will be an increase in crimes. I think these are two very isolated very different incidents,” Shab told San José Spotlight. “But we hear that there are so many that go unreported and I believe it’s because of the misconception that an officer will ask about immigration status, which we do not.”
Torres said councilmembers are hoping to create a city policy that makes it safer for vendors to operate and provide a better process for vendors to come forward to report an attack. The policy is still in the early stages of brainstorming, Torres said.
“We want vendors to know the city is there to protect them and also offer them services if they unfortunately get attacked,” Torres told San José Spotlight. “Policy is going to be about connecting the dots and not operating in silos… working with the police department and nonprofits.”
Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.
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