October 29, 2015
Civil legal aid attorneys are leading the fight for street vendors’ rights in Los Angeles. Lawyers from groups including the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) are suing the City of Los Angeles in federal court on behalf of street vendors, claiming the vendors’ carts and other belongings have been improperly seized and destroyed and arguing that the practice is unconstitutional.
Selling food or goods on public sidewalks is illegal in Los Angeles. If officers take carts or other goods to be booked as evidence, they are supposed to provide receipts so vendors can reclaim them. Instead, vendors claim that Los Angeles police have simply trashed or confiscated their wares without handing them receipts, even if the owners are not being arrested.
Civil legal aid attorneys say the practice violates the vendors’ rights to receive due process and be free from unreasonable seizures. The vendors and their attorneys are seeking to halt the disputed practices, obtain a ruling that they are unconstitutional, and secure an undetermined amount of damages for Aureliano Santiago, a 62-year-old ice cream vendor who says his property has been confiscated repeatedly.
The lawsuit also targets the Fashion District Business Improvement District, claiming it has worked with police to seize and destroy carts and other vendor property such as umbrellas and coolers while vendors have been forced to stand aside.
Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA)