Since a video was released on social media of an unlicensed food vendor being given a ticket and having his money seized by police at UC Berkeley went viral, there has been massive public outcry.
In the video, filmed by Martin Flores, you can see the hot dog vendor Juan, standing by as the officer, Sean Aranas, rummages through Juan’s wallet, saying “this is law and order in action.” Flores counters Aranas saying “no it’s not” adding that he sees people openly drinking without being harassed by law enforcement.
Since the event, Flores set up a GoFundMe page to support Juan with a goal of reaching $10k. In less than a week the page has racked up over $80,000 for Juan and “other vendors who have been robbed of their hard earned living through citations and removal of their carts.”
In an interview with NBC, Flores chastised the police officer’s actions. “There was no concern of any other violations that were going on around that community. He had one purpose: to harass and target this street vendor. And unfortunately this is a reality that our vendors face.”
Flores is on to something. Street vendors continue to be the target of harassment. Just this past July, Argentinean Carlos Hakas pushed over the cart of a Los Angeles elotero, Benjamin Ramirez. In fact, Los Angeles is the only major U.S. city where street vending is illegal – putting people’s livelihood and safety in jeopardy.
As for the ticket-issuing officer, a petition has circulated to remove him from UCPD. The petition claims Aranas has had multiple encounters against the minority community at UC Berkeley. An investigation has also been opened to look into the incident.