Two separate Boyle Heights fundraising events this week in support of a street vendor who was attacked in a viral video while selling elotes will raise money for lost equipment and food.
Vendor Benjamín Ramírez was in Hollywood when he was approached by a woman and a man wearing a hat and sunglasses. That’s when Ramírez started recording a video that shows the man harassing Ramirez for doing his job.
The man approached Ramírez and told him to move his food cart. When the man walks up to Ramírez, the vendor backs away and the man dumps the cart, spilling corn, chicharrones, and two coolers into the street. When Ramírez looks into the video and calls the man a racist, in Spanish, he responds in the same language saying “I’m not a racist, I’m Argentine.”
The video that has since been seen over 8 million times was posted on social media by Ramírez mother, Imelda Reyes. The man who attacks the elotero and the woman in the video have been identified in multiple media reports as Carlos Hakas, a metal musician, and his girlfriend, Holly Covella.
The Los Angeles Police Department tells LAist that the matter is an ongoing vandalism investigation. Ramirez says that the couple has repeatedly harassed him and have threatened to call the police on him.
The incident is prompting activists to advocate for a legal permitting system for street vending in Los Angeles. The city downgraded the charge from a misdemeanor to a citation earlier this year. But there is still no process to get a permit, LAist reports.
A fundraiser will be held Thursday, from 5 to 10 p.m., at the Indie Brewing Company, 235o Sunrise Street. Money raised will go towards buying a new cart, recovering the costs of food lost in the incident, and anything more will “be contributed to a fund that is established to support street vendors who face similar needs,” the Facebook event states.
In a separate event, cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz will make 50 limited edition prints of his “Elotero Justice” cartoon available at a showing of his work scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Casa Fina Restaurant, 1842 East 1st Street. The prints will be sold for $20 and Alcaraz says he’ll donate half the proceeds to the Benjamín Ramirez.
At least two separate Go Fund Me pages have been set up to also raise money for Ramirez’ equipment and to help street vendors. One campaign has received over $4,000 as of Thursday and the other has gotten upwards of $20,000. That one is going to help “other vendors who are victimized,” according to the description.
Photo above: “Elotero Justice” cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz.