by: Craig Lucie Updated:
ATLANTA - Local street vendors showed up in big numbers Monday to protest in front of Atlanta City Hall, hoping to end a stalemate that has kept them off the streets for weeks.
Vendors and their families marched through downtown Atlanta with signs stating their main message – “Let us get back to work.”
“We are not here to break the law. We are here to work and make a living for our families,” Stanley Hambrick told Channel 2’s Craig Lucie.
Hambrick has been a street vendor near Turner Field for more than 30 years. After he bought thousands of dollars in merchandise before the NCAA Final Four, police shut him down. He says he hasn’t been able to work since the tournament.
“It’s been terrible! The lights and gas, it’s all turned off. I can’t stand it no more,” explained Hambrick.
The vendor battle started last year when Atlanta banned street vending and entered into an agreement with a Chicago-based company.
Vendors said the cost of the permit through the company was extreme and so they fought back, and they were granted an injunction. The city decided to cancel street vending altogether, and now the vendors' fate remains in the hands of a judge.
Larry Miller, the president of the Atlanta Vendors Association, told Lucie they will fight until the end.
“We are going to have justice even if we have to go all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Miller.
State Sen. Vincent Fort told everyone that he supports all businessmen and the deals should be fair. He took a shot at the recent Falcons Stadium deal.
“Arthur Blank gets $300 million, and the vendors get the shaft and that’s not right!” Fort shouted at the protest.
“It’s likely that a judge will rule that there is a public property vending law. If that’s the case, then they will have to apply for permits again,” explained Councilman Michael Julian Bond.
Bond said if the judge’s ruling takes a while, then the council may introduce something in the short term that would allow the vendors to get back to work.