The holiday is supposed to be a happy cultural celebration but in past years, a few people have made Cinco de Mayo synonymous with violence and vandalism. That's something residents and business owners on Alum Rock Avenue know all about. "In the past, people would get drunk and start causing all kinds of trouble. You know, I stay away from that as much as I can," San Jose resident Eric medina told ABC7 News.
Medina can stay away from this year's Cinco de Mayo celebration, but local business owners like Luis Lourenco have nowhere to go and have to prepare for the worst. "In case something happens, we are covered against property damage and all that stuff," he said.
Lourenco owns the restaurant and variety store Bacalhau on Alum Rock Avenue. In 2011, one person was stabbed on King and Story Roads during Cinco de Mayo. That same year, Lourenco and his business neighbors were also on the receiving end of the violence.
"We've been hit two years ago with broken windows. Fortunately last year, we didn't see no damage, but our neighbors across the street got pretty bad damage," he recalled. Last year, was fairly quiet but Lourenco says he may close early this weekend anyway.
Dilanthi Perera's Sweet Passions Bakery is across the street. The celebration also has her worried. "I am, but at some point, there is nothing I can do. Like I said, have good insurance," she said.
San Jose police will be out in force beginning Friday night to protect businesses and those who wish to celebrate. "Our biggest concern is violence. So, if we can keep the violence to a minimum, obviously we also want to keep property crimes to a minimum. We are hoping for a peaceful celebration," SJPD Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.
Dwyer says county sheriff's special operations, as well as metro units, will be on hand as well as the gang suppression details. He says he knows gangs will be out to display their signs as long as that's all they do. "As long as they don't cause any problems and break any laws, that's really what we're looking for," Dwyer said.
Parents and teenagers should be advised that San Jose will be enforcing a curfew this weekend. It's 10 p.m. for those 15 and younger. Those 16 and 17-year-olds can stay out until 11:30 p.m. After that, they'll become guests of the San Jose Police Department.