After video went viral last week of a UCPD officer "confiscating" the cash from a hot dog vendor outside of a Cal football game, a GoFundMe campaign to help support the vendor (who goes by Beto) has raised $86,000.
Back on September 9th, UCPD's Sean Aranas issued Beto a citation for vending without a license outside of a Cal football game, as ABC 7 and many sources reported. In addition to issuing the citation, Aranas also inspected Beto's wallet, taking out about $60 in cash. Martin Flores, who later started the GoFundMe campaign, captured the incident on video and posted it to Facebook, and it later went viral. In the video, Flores can be heard asking Aranas why he was taking the money out of his wallet.
In an interview with the Daily Californian, Beto described the encounter with Aranas, saying, "I felt like a criminal. The little money that I made for my family, he took it away from me and made me feel like a criminal." Flores's video shows Beto watching Aranas taking his money, unsure of what's going on. He looks to be in near tears, unable to respond to the officer. It's heartbreaking to watch, to be sure, and even a little frustrating as Flores can be heard trying to defend Beto only to be met with no success.
According to a later statement from UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy, via the Daily Cal, Aranas took the money as "suspected proceeds" from Beto's food sales, and that this was done, "at least in part [because of] issues of public health, the interests of local small businesses, and even human trafficking." Additionally, Biddy said that the officer was working within operational guidelines, as it's typical for them to confiscate cash to be placed into evidence later.
Not only has the internet responded to the incident with support of the GoFundMe campaign, but they've also started a petition calling for Aranas's removal from the UCPD. The petition, whose author is listed as Vicky Zamarripa, has gathered 56,929 supporters as of this writing. They level some pretty troubling accusations at Aranas, saying, "He has allegedly beaten students during peaceful protests, harassed black students, 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, purposefully pushed and trampled over various female students, and arrested a woman for cop watching." Berkeleyside reports that thus far, UCPD has only said that they're "investigating the incident."
The money will be presented to Beto by check on September 23rd, 11:00 a.m. at the UC Berkeley Center for Latino Policy Research. For those who can't attend in person, the event will also be streamed live via Facebook.
This incident follows on one in June involving an SFPD officer that also elicited a public outcry. In that incident, an officer was heard on a hidden camera threatening people selling discounted "street meat" around UN Plaza with deportation, violating SF's sanctuary city policy.