Video posted online of a UCPD officer in Berkeley who appears to ticket a hot dog vendor outside the Cal game Saturday, and go through the man’s wallet, has prompted an outpouring of support for the vendor and a backlash against the officer.
UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof offered a brief statement Sunday evening: “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.”
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Martin Flores posted the video online just before 5:40 p.m. Saturday. In the video, Flores questions University of California Police Officer Sean Aranas about why he has to take the hot dog vendor’s money.
The original post has been shared more than 130,000 times — and attracted significant attention online. That led Flores to seek out the vendor, Juan, as interest in the story grew. Flores posted shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday that he had found the vendor and said they were preparing to be interviewed by Telemundo 48.
Flores identified himself in the original video Saturday as a Cal alum. He said he was disappointed at Aranas’s actions, and that the officer should not be taking the vendor’s “hard-earned money.”
“That’s not right,” Flores tells Aranas, in the video.
“We’ll take it to the judge and the judge can decide whether or not it’s right,” Aranas replies. “He doesn’t have a permit.”
Flores, who lives in Los Angeles, attended the Cal game Saturday with his family, according to his posts online. After the game, he came upon Aranas ticketing Juan. Early Sunday morning, Flores created a GoFundMe page to help with Juan’s “personal, legal and professional matters.” Flores said all the money raised will go to help Juan and “to cover other vendors who have been robbed of their hard earned living through citations and removal of their carts.”
As of publication time, more than $27,000 had been raised by more than 1,800 people.
UC Berkeley student Vicky Zamarripa posted a petition online Saturday night to have Aranas removed from his job, as first reported by the Daily Cal. More than 7,300 people have signed it, including 444 from Berkeley. The campaign has spread far beyond the city limits due to extensive sharing on social media.
According to Zamarripa, Aranas had engaged in a number of troubling interactions with the public prior to Saturday.
The sadness to observe UC Berkeley Police give a hotdog vendor a ticket and his hard earned money taken away. We have…
Posted by Martin Flores on Saturday, September 9, 2017
Sunday morning, the Flores video was shared on the “Woke Folks” Facebook page, which helped further spread the word about the incident. The Tennessee-based community organization was launched in June by prominent civil rights activist and writer Shaun King.
“UC Berkeley Police confronted this street vendor for selling hotdogs to football fans. He didn’t have a permit, so it’s understandable that they gave him a ticket. What doesn’t makes sense is this cop (Officer Sean Aranas) flipping through the man’s wallet and taking every dollar he has on him,” wrote a moderator for Woke Folks. “How can Aranas get away with this? Civil forfeiture laws give cops the legal authority to rob unlucky people like Juan, who just wanted to work hard and make a living. This legalized thuggery has pretty much always existed in America, but the difference now is that we’re able to film these injustices on the spot.”
Berkeleyside will continue to follow the story.