A man simply identified as “Juan” was selling hot dogs at the University of California during a football game on September 10, when a campus bike cop cited him for selling hot dogs without a license. While that is understandable, a concerned citizen who was about to buy some hot dogs for his kids just so happened to film the scene as officer Sean Aranas took all of the cash from the food vendor’s wallet.
When the person filming the incident asked why the officer was ransacking Juan’s wallet, officer Aranas curtly replied with,
We’ll take it to the judge and the judge can decide whether or not it’s right. He doesn’t have a permit. Yep, this is law and order in action.
Again, Juan should’ve had the proper permits to sell food as state and city laws require, but the grimy law enforcement practice of civil asset forfeiture is why this story is making waves online. In a nutshell, civil asset forfeiture allows police to confiscate property and money from anyone who is simply suspected of a crime, and the process of getting cash and belongings back is an expensive and time-consuming ordeal that many people simply can’t afford to pursue. Juan may not get the $60 that was “lawfully” ripped from his wallet back, but thanks to thousands of charitable people from around the nation, there will be a happy ending to this story:
Martin Flores, the man who filmed the incident, created a GoFundMe campaign to cover Beto’s personal, legal, and professional matters. (The hot dog vendor’s name is apparently “Beto,” although it was initially thought to be “Juan.”) As of the time of writing, the page has pulled in $87,831, and not only has Beto found a lawyer who will represent his case for free, the massive outpouring of financial support may eventually allow him to buy the food truck that he’s always wanted.
Oh, and the cherry on top? When the fundraising campaign finally winds down, a “check presentation” event is being planned where Martin will hand over the check to Beto on the Berkeley campus. Good for Beto, but I hope that he remembers to get a food vending license for that shiny new food truck!