JANUARY 26, 2023
“Local vendors are the heart of the community; the success of Little Village Business Corridor and surrounding neighborhoods are because people come to enjoy an elote and stay to enjoy the culture. Without these vendors, our communities would be devastated…” -Jaime di Paulo, IHCC President & CEO
We at the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are deeply saddened at the continued violence that have been perpetuated against our Latino food vendors. In 2022, we started receiving harrowing reports from our community members about an increase in harassment and violence aimed towards our local vendors. This increase in violence has led to many of our small business owners feeling hopeless, scared, and have ultimately called for more protection considering the times.
Our Vendors have a long and storied history in Chicago. In Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards, Albany Park, the West Side, these small businesses have operated in their communities for decades. They keep the local economy flowing, they provide crucial services, and have established themselves as important members of their community. Unfortunately, many of these self-starters have been in complete shock over the recent trends that they claim have only become prominent over the last couple of years. Street vendors are an anchor to the identity of the overall Hispanic community. They are the heart and soul of any given neighborhood in which they conduct business. We gather in the mornings to pick up our daily tamales, we come here after work to enjoy aguas frescas, their fruits, and catch up with our vendors and neighbors. They now must cope with this anxiety and brace for the possibility of an attack on a daily basis. We need to do better and protect those who provide a crucial service and maintain the aspect of our communities that we all value the most. While we have seen and commend community leaders volunteer their time to provide protection for their street vendors, we need an action plan by the Chicago Police Department to ensure that our streets are well protected, and our food vendors feel safe when conducting business.