Berkeley police are in the spotlight this week after one of their officers not only cited a man for selling hot dogs to willing customers without a permit but then opened up his wallet and robbed him of his cash as well.
The entire robbery was captured on video and subsequently went viral. But that was only the beginning. Showing how much society respects hard working entrepreneurs while decrying the police state that robs them, a Go Fund Me for the hot dog vendor has raised over $57,000.
The Go Fund Me campaign was started by the person who was brave enough to question authority and film the road side robbery. According to the 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. It is my goal to locate Juan in Berkeley. Any and all help to support and locate him is welcome.
On Monday, the video became so viral that UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy had to issue a statement, in which he justified the theft of the hot dog vendor’s money.
“While I cannot comment on the specifics of this particular case, our practice is to issue warnings before giving a citation,” Biddy said. “In a case such as this, it is typical to collect any suspected illegal funds and enter them into evidence.”
According to NBC 5, UCPD officials said that three other people were warned about vending without a permit, but the vendor in the video was the only person who was given a ticket.
Perhaps it was because he had the thickest wallet.
Whether or not the money in the man’s wallet was from selling unlicensed hot dogs remains to be answered. However, that was apparently of no importance to UC police officer Sean Aranas who found it necessary to confiscate it all.
Yes, selling food without first paying the government for permission—known as a permit—is against the law. However, this does not in any way justify this incident.
That’s not right man, that’s not right,” Martin Flores, the man who took the video, said as he used his phone to record Aranas issuing the hot dog vendor, Beto, a ticket.
“That’s how it works,” the male officer responded. “Take it to a judge, and the judge can decide whether or not it’s right.”
The officer then took the money out of the vendor’s wallet, and when he began to protest in Spanish, the officer told him to “Back up.”
“You’re going to take his hard-earned money?” Flores asked. The officer replied, “Yep.”
“He doesn’t have a permit,” the officer replied as he dug through Beto’s wallet to steal his cash. “Yep. This is law and order in action.”
In an interview with NBC Bay Area’s sister station Telemundo, the street vendor said he holds down a regular job in construction. He was selling hot dogs to earn a little extra money, he said.
“People saw I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” he said of the response to the video. “I wasn’t stealing or drinking. I was just working to sustain my family.”
The bottom line is — in modern day police state, USA — exchanging goods and services is a crime unless the State gets their cut. We are told that this is for our safety and that we could all die if a brown man sells unlicensed hot dogs on the road side. But nothing could be further from the truth.