Hate Crimes Against Street Vendors Demonstrate Need to Change San Bernardino Policies

For Immediate Release //

Contact

Armando Carmona, media@ic4ij.org, 951-966-6500

San Bernardino, CA – On Tuesday, October 13, San Bernardino residents heard the news about a hate crime committed against a local street vendor. At around 3:20 in the afternoon, a man driving a vehicle purposefully drove into Marlen, a street vendor, placing her in a coma. Outraged community members have begun to ask the San Bernardino Police Department to charge the assault against Marlen as a hate crime. 

“The rhetoric in San Bernardino and recent policies that criminalize street vendors are partly to blame for this unthinkable violence” said Lyzzeth Mendoza, Policy Manager at Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. “We must stand against hate as a community, the racism and criminalization of street vendors must stop. The city of San Bernardino can do better.”

Marlen is a young mother of four children, a wife, and a street vendor. She sells from a family-owned fruit cart business, she lives in Los Angeles, but travels to San Bernardino (and the greater area) to sell. Just like community members, her local customers and friends were torn to hear that Marlen was a victim of a hate crime. As of right now, Marlen is fighting for her life after nearly being killed. 

The San Bernardino Police Department responded to the assault and arrested Robert Leo Spargo who was later charged with attempted murder. Their report is as follows:

“On or about October 13, 2020, in the above named judicial district, the crime of ATTEMPTED MURDER, in violation of PENAL CODE SECTION 664/187(a), a felony, was committed by Robert Leo Spargo, who did unlawfully, and with malice aforethought attempt to murder Marlen Munoz, a human being.” 

The San Bernardino Police Department has not released any more information on the case. Marlen’s family and community members continue to ask for more details and are asking for this to be charged as a hate crime. Street vendors are asking for a change in San Bernardino policies. This is not the first time an assault is made against street vendors.

“It is not fair that my daughter [Marlen ] is fighting for her life right now just because she was working to bring food and money to the table. All we are asking for is justice. This continues to happen in the street vending community. This has to stop.” said Marlen’s father.  

On Sunday, October 18th, the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, along with Marlen’s family members and friends, and community members, gathered for a vigil in honor of Marlen as she continues to fight for her life. 

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