We’ve all been in the wrong place at the wrong time at some point in our lives. For one California hot dog vendor, this scenario meant losing a lot of cash.
A cell phone video of two U.C. Berkeley police officers recently went viral on Facebook. The video is of two police officers in the process of shutting down an allegedly “unlicensed” vendor just outside the of campus’ football stadium. Martin Flores, the man recording the incident, can be heard protesting behind the camera as one of the officers is shown taking money from the vendor’s wallet.
“That’s how it works,” the officer responded to Flores’ complaints. “We’ll take it to the judge and the judge can decide whether or not it’s right. This is law and order in action.”
Flores posted the video on his private Facebook account, however, the video was made viral after it was shared among thousands of other social media accounts. The video has gained millions of views since then. According to The Huffington Post, the vendor’s name is Beto Matias.
Matias later admitted that he did not have an official permit to sell food on campus, but both he and Flores believes that the officer should not have taken his money.
Following the incident, Flores launched a GoFundMe page for the food vendor. In just two short days, he raised over $57,000. Flores claims that the funds “will be utilized to cover legal and personal losses. 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.”
The male cop shown in the video was later identified as Sean Aranas. After hearing about the incident, some Berkeley students tried vying for the officer’s removal from the campus. According to ABC7, Aranas was allegedly “acting on orders from a supervisor to issue a citation,” however there’s no clear evidence that he received clearance for the seizure.
It’s a tricky situation. I’ve worked in the restaurant industry so I can understand the officer’s concerns. If the vendor doesn’t have a permit, then there’s no guarantee that the food is deemed safe to eat or properly stored. An unlicensed food vendor could mean a health hazard for students and campus visitors. However, I don’t believe that the officer should have seized all of Matias’ earnings. At the very least, he could have handled the situation a bit more amicably.
I understand that these officers are simply doing their jobs, however, there are proper procedures and efficient ways to handle situations like these without raising a public outcry.