It's tamale season in L.A. And if you haven't put your holiday order in to your friendly, neighborhood, cart-pushing vendor yet, you better get moving.
Except if you live in the MacArthur Park / Westlake district near downtown, where immigrants' rights activists say cops have been cracking down on allegedly illicit street-food vendors.
You might not get the order you paid for if your guy has been put out of business:
Carlos Montes of the Southern California Immigration Coalition says that the LAPD had loosened enforcement against tamale sellers, fruit carts and other neighborhood food vendors for more than a year following the controversial police shooting of day laborer Manuel Jamines on West Sixth Street.
However, activists say cops are back with a vengeance.
Organizer Lupe Lopez told us that the LAPD has been back at it for the last two weeks and was in full effect in the area of Sixth and Alvarado streets last Saturday and Sunday.
In a statement organizers say:
... Police have recently started a crackdown on street vendors who sell items on sidewalks to survive. The MacArthur Park area has a high unemployment rate of undocumented immigrants from Central American and Mexico. Vending is for many the only source of income to survive. Street vending is common in those countries.
They're organizing a protest at 4:30 p.m. outside the Metro subway station on Alvarado and Seventh streets today. (We have a feeling they'll end up outside the LAPD Rampart Station on nearby Sixth Street, which is a usual route for this crew).
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An allegedly drunk-and-bloody Jamines was shot on Sept. 5, 2010 after threatening bystanders, police and a pregnant woman with a knife. The shooting sparked three days of unruly demonstrations in the immigrant neighborhood west of downtown.
Anyone who sells prepared food in the city has to have a license from the county health department as well as business permits from the city.
Organizers want a hands-off policy in the area, however, given that immigrants are comfortable with unlicensed food vendors. (Tastes great, less filling).