A shocking incident caught on camera shows a man hurling racial insults at a taco stand vendor in Long Beach.
The owner says this wasn’t the first time the same man has come to his taco stand to not only direct racist attacks towards him, but also at his customers.
In recent weeks, attacks against street vendors have grown more common in the Los Angeles area, including a vendor who was shot and killed in Gardena last week. That is why the owner of Tacos Lionel wanted to share his story and raise awareness about the violence against his community.
“It makes me sad that there are people who haven’t changed the way they think,” Perez told KTLA.
Speaking in Spanish, Perez said it was the fourth time in two months that the same man had harassed him at his taco stand.
“I was scared in the beginning. It was my first couple of days, I didn’t think he was going to let me sell. Then after two weeks he started to scare my customers and scare us,” Perez said.
This time, Perez pulled out his phone and began recording.
The explicit video filmed on Aug. 2 shows the unidentified man make several vulgar comments toward the street vendor and his customers, making obscene hand gestures and threatening to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
At one point during the incident, Lionel said the man came from behind the bushes and tossed his grill and spit on his food.
Edin Enamorado, who considers himself a street vendor activist, was so angered by the incident, he found out where the attacker lived and approached him with his cell phone camera recording.
In the video taken by Enamorado, the unnamed man says he has problems with alcohol and drugs. Despite what he said in Perez’s video, he claims to have not called immigration officers.
He said his only reason for confronting the taco stand vendors was because it was on the corner he uses often.
The man said he was sorry for his actions, admitted to spitting on food and making the racist comments.
Enamorado said he is going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he won’t harass Lionel Perez or his customers again.
Since the incident went viral, the line at Tacos Lionel now wraps around the corner with dozens of people supporting the small business owner and his food.
For Enamorado, he hopes the attention will bring about change.
“A lot of people still have a stigma against them,” Enamorado said. “We need to just come together as a community in situations like this.”
Long Beach police are aware of the incident and have encouraged Perez to file a restraining order but no charges have been filed yet.
Regardless of the attacks, Perez says he loves the community and his corner and he has no plan on moving.