A video making its way into the viral hall of infamy shows a University of California Berkeley police officer ticketing a hot dog vendor and then taking all of the money out of his wallet–allegedly because the vendor might not have a permit.
Over the weekend, Berkeley alum, Martin Flores was leaving a football game with his family when he stopped to buy some hot dogs for his children, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the vendor known only as Juan.
The fundraising page’s “Story” section explains how an officer with the UC Berkeley Police Department interrupted the transaction and began to write Juan a ticket. That’s when Flores started to record a series of cellphone videos of the ensuing shakedown. In one of the videos, Flores says:
That’s not right…that’s not right…You’re going to take his hard-earned money? People could drink on campus on football games and no ticket, but a hard-working man selling hot dogs, earning a living, gets his money taken away and a ticket?
The officer then responds, “We’ll take it to the judge and the judge can decide whether or not it’s right. He doesn’t have a permit. Yep. This is law and order in action.”
Flores contests the officer’s choice of enforcement targets, again remarking upon the near-ubiquitous presence of unlawfully-consumed alcoholic beverages on the campus on game days. Both the ticketing-and-pocketing officer– who has since been identified as Sean Aranas–and his partner begin to argue with Flores, who cuts them short. “Law and order for the few,” he says.
Off-camera, someone shouts, apparently referencing Officer Aranas, “He must have voted for Trump.”
Reaction to the video has been almost uniformly negative. Many commenters on the internet have suggested that Officer Aranas relied upon so-called civil forfeiture laws to take Juan’s money, but so far that’s only speculation.
UC Berkeley Police are now said to be investigating the incident.
A statement released by UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogoluf, said:
“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.”
[image via screengrab; video courtesy Martin Flores/Facebook]