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San Jose demands justice for vendors of Berryessa Flea Market

By Sabrina Del Ponte |
June 8, 2021
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(Sabrina Del Ponte)

San Jose, CA - 100 people rallied to demand justice for the vendors of the Berryessa Flea Market in San Jose on June 3. Vendors' jobs are at risk since the Berryessa Urban Village Plan aims to do away with the 120-acre area the flea market has resided in for over 60 years.

The Berryessa Flea Market hosts over 6000 vendors every week and more than 4 million people visit every year. Not only is the Flea Market a place for affordable goods, it is also an important site of Chicano, Mexicano and Latino immigrant culture. Despite this, the city council has neglected to address the concerns of the community. Where will the vendors go since the renovation plan does not include the Flea Market?

The rally began outside the Berryessa entrance. The president of the Berryessa Flea Market Vendor Association (BFVA), Roberto Gonzalez, welcomed everyone and thanked the vendors and community members for attending this important day, "We are here together to talk and let our voices be heard so the results will not only be beneficial for the developers and owners of the Flea Market, but for the vendors as well."

Father John spoke next, "Our clients are here, our families are here. What are they going to do? Displace us even more? This long legacy of displacement in this valley, are we ready to fight?" Everyone responded in an uproar of agreement.

Protesters then marched for three miles down Berryessa Road to North 13th Street and from there to Santa Clara Street until they reached San Jose City Hall. Along the sidewalk they chanted "¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!"

Passersby and cars along the route honked in support, "¡Que viva los vendedores! ¡Que viva la pulga! Que viva la comunidad! ¡Que viva el pueblo!" Their chants echoed throughout the march, "¡Si se puede!" and "¡Cuando marchamos, ganamos!"

At City Hall, the protesters gathered to hear the daughter of a vendor from the Berryessa Flea Market acknowledged her family’s hard work that allowed for her and her sister to have access to higher education.

Peter Ortiz, representative for Eastside San Jose on the Santa Clara County Board of Education, spoke strong words, "For far too long, our city's leadership has served the interests of the financially few, and the powerful - leaving the interests of Eastside San Jose, our workers, and our immigrant communities to the side. Well now we are saying enough is enough!”

Ortiz finished, "We're going to send a strong message to city council that they cannot mess with our vendors, they cannot mess with our culture, and they cannot mess with our community!"

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