LINCOLN HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Nothing is more representative of the culture, social media, diversity and food of Los Angeles than a night market. But the Avenue 26 Night Market in Lincoln Heights, which sprouted up organically without permits, is no more.
On Friday, vendor Cesar Ruiz and other supporters of the market protested outside L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo's Highland Park office and at L.A. City Hall.
"We weren't getting filthy rich off this, but a lot of us are supporting our families. I have two kids and a wife and every other vendor I speak to, it's all family business. We have three, four cousins that work for us, a brother, a sister, we're all just getting by," said Cesar Ruiz, a vendor who runs El Jefe's Barbecue.
Enrique Peralta's father sells flowers at the market, unsure what he'll do next.
"It's really disappointing because that's his way of income. Obviously, he's somebody that doesn't have the right paperwork to apply for a job. Apply for loans. It's difficult for someone in that status to level up and still continue provide for their family," said Peralta.
Cedillo met with some of the vendors Friday and pointed out how there's other permitted locations for vendors to operate and that he supports their work, but doesn't support those who took advantage of Avenue 26.
"This is about a 500% increase in criminal activity. This is about illegal alcohol sales. This is about public drunkenness and brawls. This is about public defecation," said Cedillo. "The residents of Lincoln Heights and those businesses there have a right to live like any other neighborhood in this city. We wouldn't tolerate this in Brentwood, Westwood or Larchmont Village. We're not going to tolerate it Lincoln Heights. We have a right to have streets that are clean, safe and secure. It's a neighborhood,"
And although upset, Peralta said the rise in gang activity at the market became a problem, at times threatening vendors simply trying to support their families after many had lost jobs because of the pandemic.
"I don't think they needed to shut down. What we could have needed was a better partnership with LAPD, councilmember, creating that bond because we're in a climate where people don't trust the government, they don't trust the police," said Peralta.