Video of a Perris, California flower vendor wrestled to the ground by a police officer simply for selling flowers and Hawaiian leis without a license ignited controversy as it spread on social media in earlier this month.
15 vendors were “contacted, warned, and cited” for selling items without a permit to people stuck in traffic near Perris High School’s graduation ceremony.
A Perris police statement claimed that Juanita Mendez-Medrano, 52, gave police fake names, pushed an officer, and attempted to walk away.
“Unlike the other vendors, Ms. Mendez-Medrano refused to cooperate as necessary to allow our officer to issue her a citation,” a Perris police statement said.
The officer then attempted to arrest her for “violating the city ordinance and obstructing justice.”
A bystander filmed part of the arrest. The video tweeted on June 7th shows an officer holding Mendez-Medrano’s arm while she pulls away. He then grabs her by the ponytail, and forces her to the ground, pinning her while another officer assists.
In the video, she yells in Spanish “Why don’t you go after gang members? Why those who are making a living?” The L.A Times translated. “Why do you go after us like this?”
NBC4 reported that before the arrest, the woman told the officer in Spanish that she did not understand him.
Police warned the public the woman was breaking the law, and that there were two sides to this story.
“The video did not capture the other vendors cooperating with the citation process, nor did it capture our officer’s repeated efforts to convince Ms. Mendez-Medrano to do the same,” the statement read.
“As with most police events, the short, publicly produced video does not have the full context or content of the incident seen on the video.”
Selling flowers without a permit is against the law, but local police and national police-citizen relations may have benefited from calling a translator and using force that fit the crime.