To Whom It May Concern:
I'm writing to express my concern with the LAPD's harassment of people who are selling food on the street. I mentor a 16-year-old girl who lives in Koreatown; her mother, like many immigrants in the area, earns her living by selling donuts from a small cart. A couple of weeks ago (around Oct. 12), my mentee witnessed the police confront a congregation of street vendors on Normandie and 8th St. The police told the vendors they couldn't sell there, disbanded the group, and threw some of the vendors' food away. When my mentee verbally protested, one of the officers asked how old she was and sent her home.
I realize that because I did not witness this incident firsthand, I cannot file a formal complaint. But I agree heartily with what my mentee told me: "It's not fair because those are the only jobs a lot of people can find. They're not hurting anyone, and when their food gets thrown away, it's like losing money. The cops should be solving real crimes."
According to the LAPD's gang injunction map, that part of the city has an especially high level of gang activity--i.e. real crime. If the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD devoted more of their resources to programs linked to gang prevention (after school programs, job training programs, arts programs, parks staying open late), they would serve the community much better than by harassing street vendors. And if street vendors didn't have to work long hours for little money in risky conditions (risks which include having their livelihood disrupted by the police), they might be able to spend more time with their children, which would make those children less likely to join gangs.
I realize that police officers have incredibly difficult jobs, and I have great respect for those who put their lives in danger to serve their communities. But preventing hardworking people from selling food doesn't serve anyone.
Thank you for this opportunity to voice my concern.