Vigil for Slain Street Vendor

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Family and friends of Lorenzo Perez gather in Pilibos Soccer Park, in the neighborhood where Lorenzo Perez was killed. Photo by Peter Maiden

By Peter Maiden

A vigil was held for Lorenzo Perez in Pilibos Soccer Park in southeast Fresno on March 28, drawing 250 people. Perez, a pushcart vendor, was shot to death exactly a week earlier on the corner of Alta and Pierce avenues. Two other street vendors were shot in Fresno in 2020, one of them fatally. These attacks have perplexed Fresnans, as the victims were kind, hard-working people.

Police made solving the crime against Perez a priority, and they caught an 18-year-old suspect who has admitted to taking part in the killing.  

City Council Members Luis Chavez and Esmeralda Soria started a GoFundMe for the Perez family, with the goal of raising $30,000. So far, it has raised $100,000.

The vigil began with a half-hour sacred dance. There were other vendors there, who gave out free fruit and corn. Speakers at the vigil came from different community organizations: El Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, a support group for the Oaxacan community here (Perez was Oaxacan); Advance Peace, a group that finds creative solutions for the issues of street gangs; and the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno.

The speakers all agreed that the solution for violence must come from the Fresno community as a whole, across ethnic divides.

Local activist Dez Martinez said the killing of Perez took place right outside her home. She suggested an effort to rename Pierce Avenue to Lorenzo Avenue.

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Peter Maiden is the photo editor of the Community Alliance newspaper.