A National City man has started a movement to help the smallest of local business owners who have seemingly become the recent target of attacks -- street vendors.
Marcos Antonio Navarro was moved to help as videos surfaced of street vendors being harassed, robbed, and, in some cases, attacked as they sell food and other items from a cart.
Thanks to a GoFundMe created to raise funds, he has been able to distribute more than 100 containers of pepper spray to cart owners in San Diego County and in cities across the country so vendors can protect themselves while on the job.
"They walk the streets without medical insurance, they walk the streets without papers, so they're at risk all the time and they don't deserve this injustice," Navarro said.
Ramón Edgardo Fierro sells popsicles and chips on the streets of San Diego and sends his earnings back to his family. But he is aware of the risks that come with his business.
"My colleagues who have been assaulted have had their phone taken, they have had their money taken," Fierro told Telemundo 20 in Spanish.
He was one of the vendors who received a bottle of pepper spray from Navarro.
"We actually show them how to use it," Navarro said. "We tell them, 'You know, if you feel like you're being threatened or about to get robbed, look at your surroundings and spray them, and just take off and run, run for safety.'"
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, street vendors can be considered easy targets by thieves who know that they are alone and may be handling a large amount of cash. LAPD issued a warning to vendors in February about a rise in recent attacks at the hands of gang members.
Other good-hearted bystanders, like Navarro, have come to the aid of these business owners. In Riverside County, a man bought out one vendor's entire cart after seeing videos of attacks circulating on social media.
"They're giving us our joys, our treats, our churros, our paletas. They come to our homes when you're craving a paleta," Navarro said. "So show them some respect, show them some love, and, pretty much, let's protect them. Let's protect our vendors."