Argentinian Man Harasses LA Street Food Vendor, Flipping Over His Cart

A man identified as Carlos A. Hakas, an Argentinian musician, pushed over and damaged the food cart of Benjamín Ramírez, 24, claiming it was blocking the sidewalk.

Here is the video that Ramírez recorded with his phone when the altercation happened. It was posted originally by his mother on Facebook and it’s pretty much everywhere on the internet now.

The incident occurred on July 17 at Romaine Street and El Centro Avenue in Los Angeles, but the video went viral on July 24.

It started when Hakas, who was with his girlfriend walking their dog, asked Ramírez to move the food cart from the corner as he claimed it was blocking the pedestrians’ way. Ramírez refused to do so, saying there was plenty of room for people to walk by. However, Hakas kept insisting to Ramírez that if he didn’t move it he would move it himself.

At this point, Ramírez was already recording with his phone. Hakas seemed to get upset and handed his dog over to his girlfriend to confront Ramirez.

The video shows that Hakas is holding a taser. As he gets closer to Ramírez, the vendor throws a spice on Hakas face to defend himself and runs away from the cart. Hakas immediately pushes the cart and flips it over to the street.

Ramírez comes back to the cart and says he is not going anywhere and calls Hakas “a racist who came to damage my things,” in which Hakas responds in Spanish, “I am not a racist, you idiot, I am Argentinian, you mental retard.”

On Monday night, journalist Aura Bogado posted a Facebook live video interviewing Alex Ramírez, the vendor’s father.

“I felt really bad when I saw the things knocked over in the street. Everything was broken,” the father said, as he was standing on the corner where the confrontation happened. Alex said he has had the food cart since 2000 selling elotes (grilled corn) and “nothing like this has happened before.”

According to Ramírez’s father, Hakas and his girlfriend had already harassed his son several times, asking him to move the cart from the sidewalk. He told his son that “the next time it happens, get ready and record it with your phone,” the father told Bogado.

On Tuesday morning, Bogado posted a second video interviewing Ramírez. As he was explaining what happened, people drove by showing support to the vendor and his family.

“He [Hakas] said that I did not have permission do be here and threatening me to call the police,” Ramírez said.

Los Angeles is only major city where street food vending is not legal yet. This leaves the vendors unprotected allowing people and even police to harass and treat them unfairly. Last year, Latino Rebels Radio focused on this issue.

“Thank you so much for your support and God bless you all,” Ramirez said in Spanish at the end of the interview.

According to ABC 7 News, the Los Angeles police reported the case as vandalism.

The video called the attention of local media, organizations and people who reacted on social media using the hashtag #CarlosHakas to condemn Hakas’ actions.

Several online funds have been created to help the Ramírez family to recuperate what it lost during the attack. The Ramírez family also created its own family fund.

A rally is scheduled for this Thursday to support street vendors and to ask the “LA City Council to finally legalize street vending in Los Angeles so that the vendors are no longer criminalized for simply trying to make an honest living.”

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María Camila Montañez is a journalism student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Spanish-language program. She is originally from Colombia and tweets from @mariacmontanez.

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