FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The Food Vendor Association along with the City of Fresno held their first meeting to discuss safety concerns, business permits and build the trust between food vendors and the city and police department.
The association was formed following the death of Lorenzo Pérez, who was shot and killed while working as a food vendor in broad daylight.
“Honestly, we’re all working with the fear that at any moment, it’s going to happen to us,” said Miguel Ángel Ruiz Murillo, who works as a food vendor.
Many food vendors showed up to the meeting voicing their concerns.
“We’re working with the city to get business permits so that we can leave the shadows,” Food Vendor Association President Miguel López said.
At the meeting, several stations with different city departments were set up.
“We had a mobile set up station where they actually came in and they were able to get processed on the spot. And be able to have their business license, their registration, everything in order so they feel a little bit more comfortable calling the police or calling the city of Fresno,” Fresno City Council President Luiz Chávez said.
Chávez said the business permits will also allow them to be eligible for business grants, in which they could use the money to buy things for security, such as cameras and a panic button that would allow them to get emergency response.
“The food vendors are part of the small business community,” Chávez said.
The meeting was also used to combat the mistrust that exists toward the Fresno Police Department and city government.
“Now the City of Fresno is saying ‘we’re actually gonna be a partner, we support you and we want you to feel welcome in the city of Fresno,’ and I think we started that conversation today,” Chávez said.
Captain Dave Ramos with the Fresno Police Department said they’re in part responsible for developing that trust.
“We want them to know that they can call us and trust in the fact that they’re not going to alert immigration officials, that we’re just gonna come out and investigate the crime,” said Ramos, who is assigned to the Southeast policing district.
Ruiz Murillo said they don’t just want promises — they want action so that they can feel safer while they try to provide for their families.
“What we want is for it to be reality,” Ruiz Murillo said.
Chávez said there are two other meetings currently in the works for Southwest and Central Fresno.