A University of California, Berkeley cop is under fire after a video on social media emerged showing him citing a hot dog vendor for reportedly operating without a permit and removing cash from his wallet.
The incident, which was filmed by Martin Flores, showed Officer Sean Aranas folding the vendor’s hard-earned money in his hands. After taking the money, he began writing a citation.
The vendor, identified only as Juan, tried to object when Aranas removed money from his wallet; however, the officer paid no heed and continued to look for money.
Flores said he was buying a hot dog at the vendor’s cart when the cop approached. He immediately asked for Juan’s identification, but as Juan was looking for it, Aranas grabbed his wallet. That is when Flores sensed something was wrong and began recording the incident.
Throughout the video, Flores can be heard telling the cop, “That's not right.” At one point, he even asked him, “You're gonna take his hard-earned money?”
To that Aranas replied, “Yeah, well he doesn't have a permit. He doesn't have a permit.
Later he said, "Yep, this is law and order in action. ... Thank you for your support.”
Flores said he supports the idea of issuing a citation to vendors working without a permit, but the officer’s behavior was uncalled for.
“If he's really about law and order there's really so many other things he could've stopped. I totally recognize that people have to have permits. But this wasn't about that. This was about identifying one vendor. If you want law and order, be law and order across the board,” he added.
UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy said in a statement, “We have instructed our officers to monitor illegal vending outside our event venues. This action has been motivated at least in part by issues of public health, the interests of local small businesses, and even human trafficking. In a case such as this, it is typical to collect any suspected illegal funds and enter them into evidence.”
“We are aware of the incident. The officer was tasked with enforcing violations related to vending without a permit on campus. UCPD is looking into the matter,” said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof.
Police said the money had been retrieved from the officer and will be used as evidence.
After the incident, Flores launched a GoFundMe campaign for Juan, which has so far raised more than $55,000 and counting with an original goal of $10,000. Money collected from the campaign will help the vendor meet his legal expenses and personal losses. Additionally, the campaign vows to give any excess money to other food vendors who have received citations or had their carts removed.