Incident Between Police Officer and Latino Street Vendor Sparks Discussion on Street Vendor Laws
This weekend a Las Vegas Metro police officer and a Latino street vendor got into an altercation that has garnered the public’s attention. According to 8 News Now, José Hernández Pérez, 36, was selling agua frescas near the Las Vegas Strip on August 6, when a police agent approached, asking for his permit.
The clip shows when observing Hernández’s inaction, the officer approached him and seized his shoulders, triggering an aggressive response from the vendor.
When the agent made physical contact, Hernández asked not to be touched, responding by pushing him to the ground.
In consequence, the officer took a Taser of his pocket and asked Hernández to get on the ground.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police addressed the incident between the street vendor and agent
On August 7, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released a statement discussing the incident. Particularly after Governor Joe Lombardo signed Senate Bill 92 to regulate street vendors.
“A video is circulating showing an LVMPD officer pointing a taser at a street food vendor near the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign,” starts the thread on their X account.
They explained the officer had contacted the vendor the day before and reminded him that operating without a license is illegal.
Authorities detained Hernández on the same day of the incident. He is facing battery charges of a protected person, violation of mobile food vendor regulations and obstructing a police officer with a false statement, as per News 3.
The public has reacted with mixed emotions, especially considering the new bill
In July, Lombardo signed the bill to simplify the process of getting licenses and decrease the vendor’s vulnerability for their legal status.
Currently, officials are working on creating a task force where counties and cities can implement their restrictions. For now, vendors must follow the rules and apply to the Health District.
The bill has the authority to regulate hours of operation and prevent vendors from being within 1,500 feet of special events, restaurants and entertainment districts. This part of the new law will go into effect on October 15, reported KTNV.
Social media users and local groups have expressed their views on the incident and the legislation. Some see it as a significant step forward, while others disagree.
The Nevada Latino Legislative Caucus said they are working on an education campaign. “It is important to reiterate that we are at the beginning of the journey to implement this new law,” the statement said.
Others believed the vendor was the one at fault.
“As you remember, back in the day, casino management would never allow it. There would have been no doubt about these guys. Couldn’t set up there. It’s shocking this is happening,” wrote TV host Scott Gulbransen on X.
Some have a more negative perspective.
“Hopefully, the process is simple enough and cheap enough that street vendors can comply. Los Angeles has tried this, but the cost of permitting and having a compliant food cart, as well as the number of inspections, has made compliance a joke,” an X user added.
Some consider that the law can be a double-edged sword
Mitú spoke with Taylor M. Tieman, Esq., a lawyer based in Los Angeles, about this subject. We asked her if she believed this law would help street vendors; she explained it could be good or bad.
“While it could make it easier for vendors to get licensed and formalize their business, it also gives local governments the freedom to make strict rules,” she said.
Furthermore, if the regulations are stringent, this might not be as helpful as it seems. She noted that it’s positive for sidewalk vendors regarding clear selling areas, but it might limit vendors of busy places.
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