A man who sells fruit from the back of his truck in Bonita says he and his wife have faced a slew of attacks this week, prompting him to call authorities, and the community to rally around the vendor.
Gilberto and Yolanda of Gilberto's Produce claim several people have verbally harassed them as they sold mangoes and strawberries near the Bonita Post Office on three separate occasions.
Videos of the assaults have been circling on social media, which have prompted a reaction from community members. Some of them have shown up to buy fruit from the couple and condemn the attacks that some call racist.
"That man and his wife are doing what they can to help out their family. To us it was wrong to see someone with so much anger come to harass them when they’re just trying to help out their family,” said one man who showed up to buy fruit on Thursday.
Thanks to the community's support, their produce has been selling out earlier each day. Others have guided the fruit vendor to formalize the business. Alex Rodriguez, a restaurant owner and Bonita resident himself, is helping the couple obtain food vendor permits so that they can sell throughout the county.
“Whatever we can do as a community to just help each other out is what we’re going to do," said Rodriguez, who didn't even know the couple two weeks ago.
But the assaults kept happening, even after the first video was posted on social media, Gilberto said.
In the latest incident, a woman "threatened that they were going to come and beat me and my wife, and those are strong threats," Gilberto told Telemundo 20 in Spanish.
So he called the sheriff's department.
Gilberto said deputies took a formal report and have stepped up patrols. One deputy even bought boxes of mangoes from them. And, while it doesn't make him feel entirely safe, what he is most grateful for is the help they received from others.
"I feel so grateful, Gilberto said. "I’m not happy with what happened with those people but, because of that, we got a lot of blessings."