A video showing a UC Berkeley bicycle officer citing a bacon hot dog vendor on campus and removing cash from his wallet for operating without a permit has gone viral.
In the video, taken by alumnus Martin Flores on Saturday afternoon, a UCPD officer is seen pulling cash out of the vendor’s wallet and folding it into his hand.
The vendor objects and stands by as the officer puts the money away and begins to write a citation.
In a statement released Monday, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy said vendors typically are given warnings before a citation and explained what prompted the officer to intervene.
“We have instructed our officers to monitor illegal vending outside our event venues. This action has been motivated at least in part by issues of public health, the interests of local small businesses, and even human trafficking,” Biddy said. “In a case such as this, it is typical to collect any suspected illegal funds and enter them into evidence.”
Flores said that he was buying hot dogs from the vendor for his kids after Cal’s game against Weber State when the officer interrupted them to cite the vendor.
The officer asked for the vendor’s ID and as the man fumbled through his wallet, the officer took it out of the vendor’s hand, Flores said.
“That’s when I thought something was not right,” Flores said. So he pulled out his phone and began to record.
In the first moments of the video, the officer is seen pulling bills from the man’s wallet and folding them into his hand.
Flores repeatedly says, “That’s not right,” and asks the officer why he’s taking the vendor’s “hard-earned money.” Flores claims that people were drinking in public not that far away, and that officers should have targeted them instead.
“Yeah, well he doesn’t have a permit. He doesn’t have a permit,” the officer responds. “Yep, this is law and order in action … Thank you for your support.”
University officials said Monday that the officer took $60 from the vendor. Three others outside the game were given warnings but not cited, officials said.
Biddy ordered the Police Department to open a complaint investigation into the officer’s procedural and management issues related to the incident. He said the university is “committed to continuing to engage the campus community in order to realize better ways to serve it.”
In a phone interview Monday, Flores said he understood that the vendor needed a permit so the officer wasn’t technically wrong in issuing a citation. It simply appeared the officer’s enforcement was selective.
“If he’s really about law and order there’s really so many other things he could’ve stopped,” Flores said. “I totally recognize that people have to have permits. But this wasn’t about that. This was about identifying one vendor. If you want law and order, be law and order across the board.”
Flores’ video has been viewed more than 11.4 million times since it was posted Saturday onto his Facebook page. He said he felt disappointed as he posted the video online.
“That this happened on a campus where I was a student, where it’s supposed to be known as a liberal campus, a socially conscious campus and that it was actually a campus police officer doing this? I was bothered,” he said. “It broke my 10-year-old daughter’s heart. She wanted to give [the vendor] a hug.”
University officials emphasized that the campus is “committed to building a climate of tolerance, inclusion and diversity, even as we enforce laws and policies.”
A petition to have the officer fired has received more than 11,000 signatures. Flores launched a GoFundMe effort for the vendor, identified only as Juan, with a $10,000 goal.
It had raised nearly $33,000 as of Monday morning.
The money will go to cover the vendor’s legal expenses and personal losses, Flores said. The rest will go to a broader effort to help vendors in the area, he said. He will not take any of the money that’s donated for himself, he said.