A UC Berkeley campus police officer who took money out of a hot dog vendor’s wallet after learning that the vendor did not have a permit to sell has become the subject of a controversial viral video after the sad encounter was recorded by a Berkeley alumnus and uploaded to social media.
Martin Flores can be heard arguing with University of California Police Officer Sean Aranas as he lifts a wad of cash out of the hot dog vendor’s wallet.
“That’s not right, man,” Flores says, to which Aranas coolly responds: “That’s how it works.”
Meanwhile, the hot dog vendor can be heard asking in Spanish, “Why is he taking away my money?” and pleading with the cameraman to help translate.
“We’ll take it to a judge and a judge can decide if it’s right,” Aranas continues. Flores expresses outrage that a “hard-working man” gets his money taken away for selling hot dogs without a permit while students are allowed to openly drink on campus, but Aranas maintains that since he doesn’t have a permit, his earnings are forfeit.
“He must have voted for Trump!” an onlooker can be heard shouting from out of view.
Aranas confiscated $60 from “suspected proceeds of the violation and booked into evidence,” Sgt. Sabrina Reich told KTVU. When pressed as to why a UC officer had the authority to issue a citation to a hot dog vendor who was not on campus property, Reich could not explain.
Flores uploaded the video to Facebook, where it was shared thousands of times and attracted a multitude of angry comments. He claims he was about to buy hot dogs when the police showed up and started issuing a citation, so he began filming to highlight the perceived injustice.
Supporters of the cop’s actions noted that a food vendor permit costs $240 and requires a hefty amount of paperwork to be filed, and that those who skirt the law to increase their margins should be shut down.
A GoFundMe page called “OfficialJustice4Juan&StreetVendors” sprang up over the weekend, created by Flores, and has been shared over 23,000 times. So far, upwards of $36,000 has been raised “to cover legal and personal loses [sic].”