Ernesto Francisco, 28, a street vendor selling flowers in Inglewood, California, was attacked by a stranger outside of Inglewood Cemetery on Sunday, April 25, and it’s now been confirmed by authorities that his attacker was arrested by Inglewood Police Department later the same day. Footage of the attack shows the woman beating him as he falls to the ground and then snatching bouquets before walking away. This incident comes just over a month after street vendor Lorenzo Perez was shot and killed while working in Fresno, California, in March.
“We know the risk is there when we go out, but you never know if, when, or how it will happen that day, I had some free time, and I just wanted to work,” Ernesto told L.A. Taco.
Ernesto described watching the woman disembark a city bus around 11 a.m. that Sunday, and immediately begin verbally attacking people around her. The assailant initially yelled slurs at him before the physical altercation, which he told KTLA lasted about 10 minutes. He says he tried to avoid drawing her attention and moved further away from the area she was acting out in, but that she seemed to be following him. “But she still followed me, and I’ve always been a person that respects people. I don’t like arguing or disrespecting anyone, so I got up on the sidewalk to make space for her to pass through,” he explained. “But she began insulting me and eventually threw out three flower bouquets.”
Ernesto, who is originally from Puebla, Mexico, says he did not respond to the woman and tried to turn away from her and ignore her, but that ignoring her seemed to incite her more. At that point, she grabbed flowers from his cart and started hitting him with the bouquets, eventually pushing him to the ground and taking off with several bouquets in hand. Onlookers, one of whom managed to capture video of the incident, attempted to help, but according to Ernesto the woman, in turn, attempted to attack anyone who tried to help.
“Thank God for the people who were around me and tried to help me,” Ernesto told L.A. Taco. “I know I don’t know them, and at that moment, I couldn’t answer any of their questions because I was in shock, but I’m so thankful for them, and I hope they know that.” Ernesto’s wife has set up a GoFundMe to raise money so that he can take some time off to emotionally recover from the shocking attack. Additionally, an individual who works to provide security for street vendors has assured Ernesto that he will assist him once he is ready to return to work. All his flowers for the day were destroyed, KTLA reported, and he is unsure whether he will continue selling flowers.
Although her identity has not been released, Inglewood Police Department confirmed in an Instagram post that they arrested the woman the same day the attack occurred. This incident is just one in a string of attacks against street vendors—most often occurring in California—that has prompted the hashtag, #protectstreetvendors on Instagram.
As we reported at the time Lorenzo Perez was killed, the average street vendor in LA makes only a little over $10,000 a year, and only about $200 a week, the California Globe reported, yet often these attacks are tied to robberies. In 2020 at least two street vendors were killed in Fresno, the Fresno Bee reported, with Jose Rivera shot multiple times on Nov. 20 and Francisco Velasquez was shot in the leg on Oct. 18. Adelaido Bernabe Urias, a 70-year-old paletero, was shot and killed in August 2020 in Austin as they tried to rob him.