Things That Matter

Taco Vendor Victim of Racist Attack by Man Yelling ‘You Should Go Back to Mexico and Sell Over There’

A Long Beach, California, street taco vendor was the victim of a racist attack on the night of Tuesday, Aug. 2.

Dishearteningly, Tacos Lionel owner Lionel Perez and his employees were verbally attacked by an older white male.

Perez sent mitú videos of the incident, which show how the man approaches the stand and begins to hurl insults, threats, derogatory slurs and even points the middle finger at them. 

Courtesy of Lionel Perez

The taco owner explained to mitú how the man arrived at the stand at around 10 p.m. He immediately started yelling: “You shouldn’t be here, you should go back to Mexico and sell over there,” and that if they didn’t leave, he would call ICE or immigration officials.

At that point, the man left, but came back just five minutes later and began to spit on the taco stand’s meat, effectively ruining the batch and causing a significant loss.

While Perez says that the attack was not physically violent, it was still clearly terrifying, especially because it was not the first time the taco stand owner had seen the still-unidentified man in the L.A. Dodgers cap.

Courtesy of Lionel Perez

Perez described, “[The man] lives three houses from where we sell, and every night, he sticks the middle finger out at us… talks to us… from far away but it always occurs.” Even worse? One month ago, the same man got a hold of their grill and threw it to the ground, even with people surrounding them.

Courtesy of Lionel Perez

At this point, Perez told mitú he is debating going to the police and filing an official restraining order. Still, he said that he believes the man was already informed to not go back to the stand. 

One silver lining to the story? The street vendor described how there were many people that “defended” him and his employees, telling the man that “he shouldn’t do that.” In fact, in one of Perez’s videos, you can hear a man yell, “You should be embarrassed of yourself… a grown a– man acting like a little kid. Get out of here, bro.”

Even then, the racist man just kept saying that “they couldn’t do anything to him” or “touch him.”

Perez says that feeling his community’s support rallying around him makes him and his employees “feel safer.” He also told us that he believes that any street vendor that experiences a similar attack should “raise their voice” and “not let things like this just happen” without saying anything.

Courtesy of Lionel Perez

While few would blame the taco vendor for possibly wanting to move his stand’s location, according to KTLA, it seems like he has decided to not move from his famed street corner.

This latest attack comes after an increasing rate in violence against street vendors, such as the tragic death of a Gardena-based fruit vendor who was shot in front of his daughter. For that reason, as reported by L.A. Taco, many have decided to take action.

There is now a petition you can sign for these attacks to be considered hate crimes, and prosecuted accordingly. As per the petition, we have seen these vendors “get shot, robbed, spit on and called racial slurs,” and it’s time for them to get “the respect they deserve.”

While Tacos Lionel is becoming more and more popular (Instagram videos show the round-the-block lines for the reportedly-amazing tacos), the incident was still clearly harrowing for everyone involved. For that reason, supporting Perez’s business has become as crucial as ever.

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