A video showing University of California police ticketing an unlicensed street vendor and stealing the money from his wallet at UC Berkeley went viral on social media over the weekend. It has drawn a lot of criticism from people who believe the officer crossed the line when he looted the man’s wallet.
A GoFundMe page has been created to support the street vendor and after only 3 days it has collected more than $80,000 as of Thursday afternoon. A petition to fire the police officer who issued the citation has collected more than 48,000 signatures.
NBC Chicago reported UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy issued a statement reiterating the school’s commitment to creating a “climate of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity.”
“While I cannot comment on the specifics of this particular case, our practice is to issue warnings before giving a citation,” Biddy said. “In a case such as this, it is typical to collect any suspected illegal funds and enter them into evidence.”
UCPD officials said 3 other people were warned about vending without a permit, but the vendor in the video was the only person who was given a ticket and had his money taken.
The UC police have been instructed to open a complaint investigation into the incident, Biddy said. The officer who issued the citation will continue working during the investigation.
The street vendor, who has asked to be identified only as “Beto,” was selling hot dogs near Memorial Stadium, where a large crowd of people assembled for the university’s first home football game of the season.
Martin Flores captured footage of UC police officer Sean Aranas approaching the vendor and writing him a citation for selling food without a proper permit.
Aranas then opened the man’s wallet and took his money. The video was originally posted to Flores’ Facebook, and it was re-posted by other accounts on Twitter as the video went viral.
“You’re going to take his money? That’s not right,” Flores can be heard saying in the video.
“We’re going to take it to the judge, and the judge can decide if it’s right,” Aranas said. “This is law and order in action.”
In an interview with Telemundo, the street vendor said he holds down a regular job in construction. He was selling hot dogs to earn a little extra money, he said.
“People saw I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” he said. “I wasn’t stealing or drinking. I was just working to sustain my family.”
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin called the video “outrageous” and vowed to reach out to UC Berkeley officials.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)