San Jose leaders hold event to address violent attacks against food vendors

San Jose City Council members Omar Torres, Domingo Candelas and Peter Ortiz along with community group Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association hosted a resource fair under the City Hall rotunda Monday. 

The event was planned back in February, after a community meeting with city leadership determined vendors need more support from the city and county. That meeting was held after an attack in February on a hot dog vendor outside of PayPal Park. 

Since then, there have been other attacks on street vendors in San Jose and Oakland. 

Most recently a strawberry vendor was approached by two security guards at a Home Depot in San Jose. One of the private security guards kicked a stack of strawberry crates and threatened to have the vendor arrested. 

ALSO: Alleged irate customer arrested for attacking San Jose hot dog vendor

Monday’s event was designed to allow vendors to meet with community service providers. Health, education, and small business resource providers were on hand to support participants, educating and providing them with information on resources available for small businesses like theirs. 

Hundreds of vendors were invited; flyers were distributed throughout the city where vendors typically work. 

Workshops on safety, permitting and business were also offered to attendees. Tables with handouts in both Spanish and English were provided. 

Mayor Matt Mahan welcomed exhibitors and participants and denounced the violence against the community of vendors. 

When asked about his reaction to the video going viral online of a strawberry vendor being attacked by a security guard, he shared "I'm very disappointed to see that. There is no room for violence in our community. I understand there are going to be disputes that need to be worked out. But there's never an excuse for resorting to violence."

"We just need to hold everybody in our city to a higher standard," said Mayor Mahan.

Council Member Peter Ortiz was one of three council members that hosted the event, said this event was about more than just safety. Most of the reported acts of violence against vendors have happened in his district. 

"We want to make sure we’re bringing vendors together, supporting them," said Ortiz. "Through different workshops, connecting them to different county and city resources. And letting them know our entire community is here to support them!"

This was the first resource fair for street vendors in San Jose, but Ortiz hopes to have more in the future. 

Entertainer ‘JP’ lives in San Jose and has made money juggling a soccer ball and doing tricks for gratuities, for years. 

Now he’s a soccer coach and says he’s working on building his business. He demonstrated his skills of spinning the ball on his finger, then to his head, then rolling the ball down the back of his neck down his arm. As it flew off his fingertips, his right foot kicked the ball back up to his chest. He was excited to be at Monday's event.

"I think it’s for everyone who wants to learn more about how to grow your business or learn more about business," JP said.

Council member Ortiz said allowing small businesses to flourish, with tools and support in one of the richest parts of the country is what the American dream is all about. 

"We want to create programming for street vendors who want to improve their business," said Ortiz. "They want to get permits work above ground, however a lot of them don’t know how to, so we’re creating a space for them to come access resources and learn how to do business in San Jose." 

Ortiz added he’s hoping to offer more of these events, saying the success of small business is what Silicon Valley like much of America, is built upon. 

Alice Wertz is a freelance reporter with KTVU. She can be reached at X @AlicesTake Instagram: @WayIseesIt or email at