Benjamín Ramírez’s food cart was attacked earlier in July. Later, the video of the incident went viral.
The past week has seen Benjamín Ramírez, a soft-spoken street vendor who sells Mexican elotes and shaved ice from a pushcart in Hollywood, turn into a viral video sensation. Some say he is L.A.’s newest folk hero.
On July 17, Ramírez was standing beside his cart at the corner of Romaine and El Centro Streets in Hollywood when a Argentine man who was out walking his dog accosted the elote vendor about supposedly blocking the sidewalk. The bearded man in a Guns N’ Roses T-shirt was a familiar antagonist to Ramírez. “He’s said things before,” Ramírez says. “Telling me I couldn’t sell here or block the sidewalk, and that I didn’t have permits to sell. I ignored him and left.”
This time, Ramírez says, he started filming the man’s complaints with his cellphone. On the video, Ramírez tells the man there is enough room for him to pass, to which the man responds with an ultimatum in Spanish: “Move the cart or I’ll move it for you.”
If you’re one of the 8.8 million viewers of the video since Ramirez’s mother uploaded it to Facebook on July 24, you know what happens next: Ramírez stands his ground, the man hands the dog leash to a woman accompanying him, and he moves on the elote vendor brandishing what Ramírez says he believes was a stun gun. In self-defense, Ramírez tosses chili powder at the man and continues filming as the man, in a rage, seizes hold of the cart and overturns it. The cart spills utensils, coolers and food items — including plenty of fresh ears of corn — onto the sidewalk and into Romaine…
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