Editor’s Note: The following media release from the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice was shared Friday with Latino Rebels.
SAN BERNARDINO – On Wednesday night, the San Bernardino Police Department published a notice on Facebook threatening to arrest, fine and destroy the property of street vendors.
This post, coming from the official SBPD Facebook page, is in line with escalating tactics that aim to intimidate and dehumanize vendors, rather than educate and inform them. Though San Bernardino Police claims to have launched several “education campaigns” these have often been accompanied with little information, severe fines, racist threats, harassment, destruction and confiscations of vendor property.
Javier Hernandez, Director of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice said the following:
“We will not stand for the continued harassment and criminalization of immigrant entrepreneurs, small businesses and street vendors. The SBPD needs to stand back and the City of San Bernardino needs to step up. Rather than pay for a costly militarized and violent response, the City needs to invest in community partnerships and resources. We have offered our experience multiple times in order to work with the City to improve these dynamics and have been ignored. We call on them once again to work together to help bring equitable and innovative solutions.”
Blanca, Community Leader with Hispanos Unidos and ICIJ said:
“Street vendors and immigrant entrepreneurs must know they are not alone and that we must continue to fight for our rights. It’s important that we continue to advocate with street vendors to find solutions that will formalize their businesses into the local economy.”
The City of San Bernardino is home to over 60% Latinos and one of the most impoverished cities in California. The street vendor community has been a vibrant and growing culture throughout the years and a staple in several regions across the city. Vendors have set up shop in San Bernardino for the last 30 years, and now with the passing of SB 946 (Safe Sidewalk Vending Act), we have hope and plans to build on that state law to be more inclusive of food vendors. The violence vendors are facing from the local government and vigilantes can be avoided. We demand our local electeds work with us intentionally to provide solutions.
Background on SB 946: In 2018, Jerry Brown signed into law SB 946 (Safe Sidewalk Vending Act) to help decriminalize street vending for vendors who operate on sidewalks. It blocks local entities from issuing citations or administrative fees for more than $1,000, and it avoids arrests or misdemeanors. If vendors are charged with citations or misdemeanors, they can appeal. Each local city and county can create their own program to regulate vending.