A video of a University of California Berkeley bicycle officer citing a Hispanic hot dog vendor and confiscating cash from his wallet for operating without a permit outside a football game on the campus Saturday has gone viral on social media.
The video was shot by alumnus Martin Flores, who had gone to enjoy Cal’s game against Weber State with his kids; later when he was buying hot dogs at the cart he was interrupted by officer S. Aranas, who said he needed to write a citation for Juan, the vendor.
The officer demanded to see Juan’s ID and also snatched his wallet, which is when Flores suspected wrongdoing on part of the officer and started recording the incident with his phone.
In the video, Flores is seen telling, “That’s not right,” to the officer who was taking out “hard-earned money” from Juan’s wallet. At this, Aranas replies: “Yeah, well he doesn’t have a permit. He doesn’t have a permit. Yep, this is law and order in action ... Thank you for your support.”
Flores continued shooting the incident, but it didn't prevent the officer from taking out the remaining cash from the vendor's wallet. He also wrote a citation for Juan, all the time maintaining what he was doing was well within the law.
After the video was shared on multiple social media platforms, Twitter users reacted strongly against the officer's actions:
Apart from uploading the video on social media, Flores also started a Go Fund Me page for Juan and other hot dog vendors, who have suffered similar disgrace and faced financial losses at the hands of law enforcement in the United States.
“This is the official go fund me account for justice4Juan the hotdog vendor at UC Berkeley,” reads Flores’ Go Fund Me campaign. “The funds raised will be utilized to cover legal and personal loses. In addition, funds in excess are to cover other vendors who have been robbed of their hard earned living through citations and removal of their carts.”
While the campaign's initial goal was to raise $10,000, but more than $47,000 has been collected within 24 hours of the page being created.
An overwhelming number of donations started pouring in after people found out how Juan’s hard-earned money was taken from him.
“Mexican selling hot dogs is illegal yet go to every 7-11 in SoCal and you'll see a white dude begging for money. Yes he's earning a living!! Not begging you for money!!” commented one in the Go Fund Me page. “While the permit to sell wasn't there, I don't think taking his money is justified. How do they even know what he made off selling those hot dogs? I hope for this single act of injustice, Juan is lifted up by enough support to turn this moment of discouragement into a moment of encouragement,” wrote another.
UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy defended the officer's actions, saying the vendor must have been given a warning before the citation was given. He also justified Aranas snatching the money from Juan’s wallet.
“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,” Biddy said, Los Angeles Times reported. “In a case such as this, it is typical to collect any suspected illegal funds and enter them into evidence.”
According to the university officials, the officer confiscated $60 from Juan and also issued warnings to a number of other vendors outside the game. However, Juan was the only one who received a citation.
Meanwhile, a petition was filed Saturday by campus student Vicky Zamarripa against Aranas, calling for his dismissal from the police department.
“S. Aranas has continuously targeted, harassed, and assaulted minorities in the community,” says the petition. He has beaten students during peaceful protests, has harassed black students, has harassed other students of color, stabbed a student in the ribs during the Wheeler Hall protest, dislocated another student's arm during the same protest, has purposefully pushed and trampled over various female students, and has arrested a woman for cop watching.”
The petition said officers should be respectful towards all students and community members and not single out minorities or people of color.
“Because S. Aranas #76 has failed to do so, we are asking for his immediate removal from UCPD,” it added.