Skip to Content

‘Let’s Get La Migra Here:’ Racist in Long Beach Attacks An Indigenous Street Vendor Stand And Threatens Them With Calling ICE

1:08 PM PDT on August 8, 2022

Screenshots from Lionel’s Video.

Nowadays, we see street vendor attacks going viral online almost every month, from verbal attacks to physical ones. Because of this, street vendors are now arming themselves not with guns but with potentially a bigger weapon, cell phones. 

The reality is that attacks on street vendors have happened for years; the only reason why we’re now seeing a rise in attacks is that vendors and customers are now capturing these encounters on video. Such was the case for indigenous taquero Lionel Perez, owner of Tacos Lionel,” in Long Beach. The taquero from Tamazulapam del Espíritu Santo, a small mountain village in Oaxaca’s Indigenous Mixe region, was recently at the forefront of yet another attack. 

The last time L.A. TACO spoke with Perez was in July to cover his craft of making one of Long Beach’s best tacos al pastor. Almost to the mark of his last conversation with L.A. TACO, he reached back out with a video of what happened.

Last week on Tuesday, August 2nd, about 5 hours into his shift Perez and his team were verbally attacked and threatened by a white older male wearing a plaid shirt and L.A. cap. In a video recorded by the 29-year-old taquero, the man who is seen visibly upset approaches the stand from behind and starts yelling: “Fuck you, we have been here for nine years. Let's get the migra here. Let's get ICE here!”

Customers who were lined up around 10 P.M. to get their tacos are heard defending the street vendors who mainly speak Mixe and Spanish. One yelled out from the side, telling the man: “You should be embarrassed by yourself, a grown-ass man acting like a little kid. Get out of here, bro.”

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the man had attacked Perez and his staff. In a previous encounter with him, Perez recalls the man pushing one of their grills to the ground. Actions the man himself admits to in the video when he looks Perez in the eyes and says: “You know me. I haven't been in your face in a while.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by L.A. TACO 🌴🌮 (@lataco)

Perez said the man has always approached them in an aggressive way and although he may not understand every word he says to them he said he can tell he doesn't like them.

“I don't understand a lot of English, but I understood when he said that we need to go back to Mexico to sell,” said Perez over the phone. “He said that before I decided to take my phone out to record.”

Further in the video, the man yells at Perez, asking: “You got a business license from the health department? No, you don't, do you?” 

Shortly after, the man is seen walking around a bush that separated him from the taco stand, and he walks over and throws one of Perez’s containers to the floor before he grabs another and throws it at the vendors. The video ends with the man walking away, giving everyone the middle finger. To make matters worse, Perez thinks the man called The Health Department on them. 

“This happened on Tuesday, and by Thursday, The Health Department was already here and told us we couldn't be here anymore,” he said. “We don’t know if it was him, but we assume it was because of what he said that day and other days.”

As for what happened on Tuesday, Perez said customers who witnessed the attack called the police on behalf of the vendor, and the incident was recorded. Perez has not filed any charges yet, but he was given information on how to do it when he is ready. The police also informed Perez on how to file a restraining order against him. Now the vendor is contemplating moving from his location.

“We're thinking of moving because we just don't want to deal with him anymore and don't want things to get worse,” said Perez. “We don't want to move, but we may not have another option.”

The fear of things getting worse is understandable, especially with attacks escalating quickly. Most recently, a fruit vendor in Gardena was shot and killed in front of his 7-year-old daughter while he was working. And last month, a street vendor was slapped across the face by a woman who was upset over having to wait five minutes for a burrito. 

Because of this, advocates for vendors are currently asking people to sign a petition that is pushing for these attacks to be considered hate crimes. Advocates and vendors are asking for better protection for street vendors. 

As for Perez, he said they are looking for a new location not too far from their original spot on Atherton Street and Clark Avenue in eastside Long Beach. He said they will remain where they are unless “the city” decides to remove them before they find a new location. 

Tacos Lionel, E. Atherton Street, and Clark Avenue. Closed Mondays. Open 5 PM to midnight on weekdays and 5 PM to 1 AM on Friday and Saturday.

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Register to continue

Become a Member

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Spot Check: Colombian Desgranados In Echo Park, Mexican Wine Festival At Mírate, and Perverted Waffles in DTLA

Plus, a party highlighting pan-African cuisine, a new Taiwanese cookbook by an awarded local from the San Gabriel Valley, and a Little Saigon food festival that starts tonight! Welcome back to Spot Check!

September 22, 2023

This 24-Year-Old Latina Mortician Beautifies the Dead and Influences the Living

Growing up in Arleta with a first-generation family from El Salvador, Berrios admits that her family only embraced her career choice two years ago, after she started to win awards like “Young Funeral Director of the Year.” The 24-year-old works as the licenced funeral director and embalmer at Hollywood Forever cemetery. As a young person born in peak Generation Z, she's documented her deathcare journey on TikTok and has accrued more than 43K followers on the platform. 

September 21, 2023

Meet ‘Carnitas Rogelio,’ The Family-Run Stand With The Best Michoacán-Style Carnitas O.C. Has to Offer

Michoacán-raised Rogelio Gonzalez slices the cuerito (the pig skin) in a checkered pattern to ensure a light crunch in each bite and utilizes every part of the pig, from the feet to the liver and intestines, which he binds together in a braid. 

September 20, 2023

‘The Office’ Star Rainn Wilson Brought Jerk Chicken Tacos to the Picket Lines Outside of Paramount Studios

In three hours, D's Tipsy Tacos and her team passed out “roughly 100 plates” of tacos, burritos, rice, beans, nachos, and quesadillas to striking screenwriters and actors.

September 19, 2023

Five Common Plants to Avoid When Creating Your Green Spaces in L.A.

Almost every time I visit a property with landscaping issues, the problem starts with bad design: the wrong plants in the wrong place. Here's advice from a third-generation L.A. landscaper and noted taco expert.

September 19, 2023
See all posts