CHICAGO — Community members and street vendors in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood are calling on the city to better protect them.
They say recent acts of violence, including armed robberies of street vendors, are raising major concerns.
On Thursday afternoon, the group met in front of a Chicago police district station and called on CPD to add more patrols in the area.
“Not only are they scared, they’re losing money, but they’re scared that they might lose their life,” Baltazar Enriquez, the president of the Little Village Community Council, said.
The council said this is why it’s joining hands with residents and street vendors to call for help.
“Three of our vendors got robbed within an hour,” Enriquez said.
The group said those robberies happened Thursday morning and claimed a customer was also robbed at gunpoint while buying food from Maria Aguiliar.
“This is the seventh time I’ve been robbed,” Aguiliar said. “It has affected my family, it has traumatized me. I don’t know what else to do.”
While it’s not clear whether all of the alleged crimes were reported, a report from the Chicago Police Department confirms what she shared: four suspects approached her with guns while she was selling food in the 3400 block of West 26th Street.
“They pointed a rifle at my head,” Aguiliar said.
Aguiliar said this is the fourth time she’s been robbed since November and she no longer feels safe after having money and personal belongings stolen at gunpoint several times.
“I don’t know if the clients are coming by and are going to buy from me or they are going to rob me,” she said.
The group said they want Chicago police to increase patrols, especially during the hours of 3-9 a.m. when many vendors are out.
They say some volunteers are already helping, but they want to talk about a safety plan with department leadership directly.
“We need them, we cannot do this alone,” Kristian Armendariz, a community organizer for the community council, said.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said they’re committed to strengthening safety for residents and vendors across the city, including in Little Village.
“To address incidents targeting the street vendor community in the 10th district, we have placed special attention and additional visibility in the affected areas,” a statement from CPD read. “We will continue to adjust resources as necessary as we work to combat these crimes.”