LA Settles Street Vendors’ Beef Over Police Crackdown

LOS ANGELES – A group of Los Angeles street vendors who said they were targeted by police when they were selling their goods has settled their dispute with the city for $150,000.

The vendors sued the city, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Downtown Los Angeles Property Owners Association, two police officers and a business district improvement group in the Fashion District in 2015. Aureliano Santiago said street vendors like him had their goods seized and destroyed by police, who singled them out thanks to members of the Fashion District Business Improvement District, according to the federal lawsuit.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted 11 to 1 to settle the lawsuit and on Thursday Mayor Eric Garcetti signed off on the action.

The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the National Lawyers Guild and the law firm Schonbrun, Seplow, Harris and Hoffman filed the complaint on behalf of the vendors’ union. The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles did not respond to a telephone request for comment by press time.

Vendors said items seized and destroyed by police included fruit and ice cream, carts, dollies, coolers, umbrellas and the vendors’ personal property, according to the lawsuit.

At the time, the Fashion District Business Improvement District said the business group’s job had been to dispose of “perishable, contaminated and abandoned property that would otherwise be left in our district.”

But vendors said their goods were stolen from them and they were cited by police. Rather than using the goods as evidence, however, police simply threw them into the trash, according to the suit.

The City Attorney’s Office did not respond to an email request for comment.

The vendors had sought an injunction and damages for constitutional violations and interference by threat, intimidation or coercion.


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