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Latino street vendor in California alleges he was harassed and bullied in viral video incident

“They realized that I was Mexican, that I didn’t speak English very well," he told Noticias Telemundo in Spanish. “I know that there are thousands of people who live this every day.”

A Mexican hotdog street vendor in California alleges he was harassed by a group of young women.

A fragment of the incident was filmed and posted on TikTok three days ago by a student at California State University, San Marcos, a university spokesperson told NBC News on Wednesday.

The now viral video shows four young women lined up across from the grill that the vendor, Andrés Argüelles Álvarez, was using. In the video, it shows one woman berating him for charging $7 for a hotdog at his stand near Viejas Arena at San Diego State University. Argüelles Álvarez then asked them to leave, but they refused. Instead, two of the women started grabbing and throwing the food Argüelles Álvarez was grilling, causing him to become more visibly upset.

Andrés Argüelles Álvarez.
Andrés Argüelles Álvarez.Telemundo

“They grabbed my bacon with their hand, all my vegetables, everything I use,” Argüelles Álvarez told Noticias Telemundo in Spanish. “People realized all the dirty things they were doing and it disgusted them. They no longer wanted to buy more.”

A witness, Morgan McBrearty, told NBC News that when she approached the cart to buy food, the young women “were already there harassing Andrés.” McBrearty then decided to step in to defend Arguelles Alvarez “after I repeatedly heard and saw them talking to him in rude and condescending tones” and grabbing food off his cart, she said. By the time McBrearty left the stand, “the girls were still continuing to harass” the vendor, she said.

The student who recorded and posted the video on TikTok said in subsequent social media posts that she doesn’t know the young women who appear in the video and explained why she didn’t intervene.

"I much rather show how these girls go out in public and act than get myself involved," the student said.

The TikTok video of the incident has already amassed more than 2 million views as of Wednesday.

The student known on TikTok as @rileykaufman9 said in another video that Argüelles Álvarez sells hot dogs in the same spot every weekend. The student also said he "did nothing to provoke this. It was just the girls coming into it angry and drunk and ready to start something.”

"The hotdog vendor is also the sweetest man," the student added.

The Cal State San Marcos spokesperson said that a current student and a former student were among the four women seen harassing the vendor in the video.

In a statement to NBC News, the university called the young women's behavior "disrespectful and antithetical." As a result, the school's dean of students "is currently reviewing all available information."

"If applicable, we plan to pursue any violations of our student code of conduct,” the university said.

Cal State San Marcos declined to name the students involved.

In Argüelles Álvarez's view, "they realized that I was Mexican, that I didn't speak English very well, and they thought, 'Ah, we can attack him.'"

Attempts to identify and contact the young women in the video were unsuccessful.

The video of the incident has sparked outrage among social media users, causing many to repost modified versions of the original TikTok video in other online platforms.

A street vendor activist in California reposted versions of the video on Instagram and also posted another video of what he alleged was additional footage of the incident that wasn't included in the original viral TikTok video. The activist told NBC News he obtained the additional footage from Argüelles Álvarez, who got it from the student who recorded and posted the original TikTok video.

In his videos, like many others on social media, the activist claimed the women in the videos attended San Diego State University, causing the university to receive a flurry of messages about the incident.

San Diego State issued a statement Tuesday saying: “None of the individuals in the video are confirmed to be SDSU students. Further, while individual names have been shared online, at least one SDSU student and a student organization tagged by social media accounts reported being misidentified and not present in the video, and none of the remaining names shared are SDSU.”

"As there were individuals in the video incorrectly identified, we caution all to rely on accurate sources of information," the university added.

The harassment Argüelles Álvarez endured comes as parts of California have had a rise in crimes and attacks against street vendors.

Los Angeles County is home to roughly 10,000 street vendors, most of whom are Latino. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, robberies targeting street vendors doubled last year, NBC Los Angeles reported. Other recorded attacks against street vendors have also been going viral as a movement to provide them more protection picks up speed.

"Like me, I know that there are thousands of people who live this every day," Argüelles Álvarez said in Spanish.

Update: A witness account was added to this article after publication. A quote attributed to a video of the incident was removed because it was unclear.