By Gillian Edevane
A video showing a University of California police officer ticketing an unlicensed street vendor and taking money from his wallet at UC Berkeley went viral on social media this weekend, drawing criticism from those who claim the officer went too far by confiscating the man’s money.
On Monday, a GoFundMe to support the street vendor has collected more than $35,000. A petition to fire the police officer who issued the citation has collected more than 13,000 signatures.
As the video continued to rack up views late into Monday afternoon, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy issued a statement reiterating the school's commitment to creating a "climate of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity." He noted that UCPD officers had been instructed to monitor illegal vending during the game to protect public health and small businesses.
"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."
He added that UCPD has been instructed to open a complaint investigation into the incident. The officer who issued the citation will continue working while the investigation plays out, according to UCPD.
The street vendor, who has asked to be identified only as “Beto,” was selling hot dogs at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday near Memorial Stadium, where a large crowd of people assembled for the university's first home football game of the season.
Martin Flores, who wrote on social media that he attended the game with his children, captured footage of UCPD Officer Sean Aranas approaching the vendor and writing him a citation for selling food without a proper permit, a violation of Berkeley’s municipal code. Aranas then went into the man’s wallet and took $60 from it.
“You’re going to take his money? That’s not right,” Flores can be heard saying in the video.