OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — The community rallied around an elderly ice cream street vendor who was robbed at gunpoint earlier this week in east Oakland. The thieves got away with about $120.
Ultimately, people touched by Don Juan’s story paid it forward with an organized “buyout.”
Not far from where he was robbed at gunpoint Monday afternoon, Juan is back in the Fruitvale neighborhood in East Oakland selling ice cream and popsicles — just days after his life was threatened over $120.
Citizen App video shows the robbery on East 18th Street near 39th Avenue. One of several times he has been held up recently and stripped of the cash the man in his 80s who immigrated from Peru uses to make a living and support his son and daughter.
“This is what you’re gonna do to our elders? We don’t do that in the community. You need to be supportive of our elders and respect our elders. Our elders are held at another level, and this is not right,” said Joanna Garcia Salazar who is a supporter of the fundraiser.
On Saturday, the group NorCal Racing organized a buyout of Juan’s inventory. Hundreds showed up to support him and stay with him until he sold out.
“You know, there’s bad things that happen, but just know that us as a community, we’re here to support you guys and you’re not alone,” said NorCal Racing organizer Chriscian Fregosos.
The Alameda County Fire Department visited with Juan — letting him know they have his back.
“It touched me very much to see one of our very own community members that’s trying to make an honest living to have to go through that. So, that shouldn’t have to happen,” said Randall West of the Alameda County Fire Department.
Street vendors are easy targets for thieves. Supporters say if not for this crime being captured on video, it likely would not have received much attention.
“This is something that’s happening all the time, but they’re afraid because of their status, because you know, they’re here illegally — or, illegally, because we’re indigenous to this land — but, because they don’t have that stupid paper, they can’t go to the police cause they’re afraid of the retaliation,” Salazar said. “Also, if, you know, they’ve already seen them before around the neighborhood, they could do something else to them.”
“Gun, here — no good. No good. Pero, you, everything that’s here — good. Everything. Thank you. Thank you. I happy. Happy,” Juan said.
With the funds collected online combined with Saturday’s buyout, the community has raised more than $40,000 for Don Juan.