Woman arrested in attack on Watts taco stand after refusing to pay for food, police say

People at a taco stand at night
A group of taco vendors set up shop at Avenue 26 in Highland Park in March 2020. A woman accused of attacking a Watts street vendor on Sunday evening has been arrested, police said.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
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A woman accused of attacking a Watts street vendor over the weekend after she was asked to pay for her food was arrested, police said Thursday.

Los Angeles police identified the woman as 36-year-old Renee Latrice Hines of Bakersfield. The incident took place on Sunday evening when street vendor Joana Vasquez, of Tacos Ortiz on Grandee Avenue and East 103rd Street in Watts, was attacked by a female driver of a 2007 pink Lexus.

Officers with the Los Angeles Police Departments arrived on the scene at 6:35 p.m. and determined that Hines “punched and pepper sprayed” Vasquez when Vasquez “asked the suspect to pay for the tacos she had consumed,” according to a police news release.


Tacos Ortiz staff recorded the incident and posted the video on Instagram on Monday afternoon. In one clip, the woman exits her vehicle and charges the vendors, appearing to throw a bottle at the stand’s male owner.

She then launches into a table and grabs Vasquez by the shirt, attempting to drag her away from the stand. As she yanks Vasquez with her right arm, she punches the much smaller vendor with her left arm and screams obscenities before eventually stopping after about 15 seconds, according to the video.

Man accused of overturning a pair of food carts on a busy street outside SoFi Stadium on Saturday night has been fired, stadium officials say.

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The stand’s owner then runs to record the woman’s license plate, and she responds by grabbing the vendor’s plastic sandwich board sign and chucking it at him. She continues yelling profanities before returning to her car on the passenger side as another person drives the vehicle away.

Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics treated Vasquez for her injuries.

Hines was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, and her bail was set at $30,000, police said Thursday.

On Wednesday, New Jersey-based Yusen Logistics America confirmed that it had terminated an employment agreement with the woman, who had been temporarily assigned as a contractor to the global supply chain company by her employer, Carson-based Simplified Labor Staff Solutions. The woman was not identified by her employer.

Yusen released a statement saying it “does not condone violence of any kind.”

“We were alerted to an online video of a temporary worker whom her employer had assigned to work at one of our warehouses,” the statement read. “This person is no longer assigned to work at our company and will not be allowed to return to any of our facilities.”


The four robberies of street vendors Sunday appear to be part of an increase in such crimes in the last few months.

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Calls to Tacos Ortiz were not immediately returned.

In the taco stand’s Instagram post, the video includes a message that reads in Spanish, “be careful with these types of people. They arrive ordering food and when it comes to paying, they act like this.”

A Yusen spokesperson said the company was tipped off by street vendor activist Edin Alex Enamorado.

Enamorado organizes a regular group chat with several South Los Angeles street vendors and was informed that same day of the incident.

Enamorado said the woman had dined at Tacos Ortiz “at least two times before” and then fled without paying.

On Sunday, Tacos Ortiz employees decided to record her return, leading to the assault, according to Enamorado.

At the height of the pandemic, most businesses were forced to alter operations, but for street vendors, who are subjected to zoning permits and rising food costs, things became even more unstable.

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He said recent violence against street vendors has been fueled by various issues.

“It’s a perfect storm between racism, the economy and the stigma of people thinking that sellers don’t want to obtain permits,” Enamorado said. “There’s a pettiness and hatred that builds up for street vendors that leads to hatred.”


As a result of Enamorado’s efforts, Simplified Labor hired Tacos Ortiz to cater a Yusen company lunch on Friday, according to an Instagram post that featured Simplified Chief Executive Ashi Wahi.

“We really like to support our community,” Wahi said in the video while speaking with Enamorado. “Thank you for the cause that you believe in that we also believe in because the right thing needs to be done.”

City News Service contributed to this report.