Thanks to a perfect storm of court orders, legislation, and high demand, the Los Angeles Times reports that illegal beer vending has become the industry du jour in an area where addicts are trying to rebuild their lives. The Los Angeles Times's Sam Allen explains how homeless beer vendors have popped up on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles largely because of a federal court ruling that disabled the LAPD's authority to raid and seize unattended possessions which clutter the sidewalks. Because cops legally can't seize sidewalk clutter, they also can't seize things like hidden coolers full of beer, which have netted homeless vendors like "Richard" plenty of cash (around $2,000 since February he said). Allen's report is equal parts grim, frustrating ("When officers make arrests, the vendors are usually back at work after a few days in jail — or replaced by others eager to take over the turf."), and is just a shocking glimpse into the situation of poverty, narcotics, and depressingly desperate every-man-for-himself world in a Los Angeles many of us will (thankfully) never be a part of. Allen writes:
Joseph recently tried to reason with one of the vendors, explaining to him that he was selling beer on a street where addicts were trying to rebuild their lives. But the vendor wasn't interested.
"That seems to be the mantra of all these guys who are out there on 5th and San Pedro: 'We're here, we're going to make money, we've gotta do what we've gotta do,' " Joseph said. "It's simple supply and demand."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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