UC Berkeley investigating campus police conduct in viral food vendor incident

Martin Flores/Facebook/Courtesy

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Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy released a statement Monday afternoon stating that the campus is reviewing an incident in which UCPD officer Sean Aranas wrote a citation to a food vendor outside the Cal football game Saturday.

“We have instructed our officers to monitor illegal vending outside our event venues,” Biddy said in his statement. “This action has been motivated at least in part by issues of public health, the interests of local small businesses, and even human trafficking.”

According to UCPD Sgt. Sabrina Reich, Aranas issued the citation for vending without a license and UCPD also detained three other individuals for vending without a license, who were all released later that day with a warning.

A petition was created Saturday for the removal of Aranas, receiving over 21,000 signatures, and a GoFundMe page has raised over $44,500 in support of the food vendor. The petition expressed concern over Aranas’ approach to the situation, specifically why Aranas approached the vendor and why he took money out of the vendor’s wallet.

Aranas confiscated $60 from the food vendor as evidence of “suspected proceeds of the violation,” according to Reich. Biddy said in his statement that it is typical for a UCPD officer to collect any suspected illegal funds to enter them into evidence.

Aranas will continue to work for the department, while UCPD has opened up a complaint investigation to examine both procedural and management issue for the incident.

Criticism of Aranas’ tactics surfaced from the community after Saturday’s incident. Specifically, campus alumnus Martin Flores who witnessed the incident and started the GoFundMe page said he believed Aranas “selectively identified” the vendor.

I assure you that the well-being of our community members including those from our marginalized communities of color, is most important to us,” Biddy said in his statement. “We are deeply committed to building a climate of tolerance, inclusion and diversity, even as we enforce laws and policies.”

Malini Ramaiyer is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @malinisramaiyer.

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  • Steve Schaefer

    Frankly, I’m more concerned by the confirmed policies of the Berkeley PD than I am by the behavior of officer Aranas. That is, Aranas seems to be faithfully executing the policies of the department.

    There are two aspects of this that I can’t get my arms around. Both have to do with the cash confiscated as “evidence”.

    First, I’ve read many articles and all available official statements. It would be so easy to say “evidence is returned after the case is dispositioned” and *no one* has said that. From that, I conclude that the “evidence” is an additional penalty administered without due process.

    Second, how is it evidence that Beto had $60 in his wallet. I have *more* than $60 in my wallet. Most of us do. Is that evidence of our guilt? That’s ridiculous. That amount of cash in his wallet doesn’t indicate anything to a judge or jury about whether or not he was in violation of any statute, whether he was presenting a public hazard or whether he was interfering with the free exercise of anyone else’s rights. From that, I conclude that this policy of collecting “evidence” is systemic harassment, since it does not serve the stated purpose of collecting evidence.

    That should concern us all that the Berkeley PD has such disregard for personal rights, and that they are perfectly willing to develop and implement policies that are designed to harass, with no other purpose.

  • SMH


    And this poor Latino push cart vendor gets *ALLL* his money summarily taken away *regardless* of what portion came from hotdogs and what portion *DIDN’T*!!


    And you know that the people who can get away with drinking in public on campus and carousing in the streets when they do are *white* ‘kids’ — the guy videoing and verbally protesting was just too polite to explicitly say so.
    (Remember a little white back on local TV, when some *PIG* took some isolated neighborhood Latino fresh fruit vendor’s fruit!?: took ALLL of the poor vendor’s fruit — to protect some Black or Brown working-class neighborhood from fresh fruit! And it was a *neegro* *PIG* — which shows you what the *PIGS* are as AN *INSTITUTION*, regardless of color or gender.)

    When the *PIGS* say, “To protect & serve”, they mean THE *STATE* & WHITE CORPORATE CAPITALISM!

    Meanwhile *STILL* not a single corporate BANKSTER has served a single day in jail, let alone prison, or had a single cent taken away from him.


    • SMH

      _ Actually, if you’re not actually under arrest (which apparently the Latino guy wasn’t, since he wasn’t in handcuffs), the *PIGS* don’t have a right –although our Constitutional rights have been greatly eroded in some cases (except for white gunlovers and their guns, the Bill of Rights have been hollowed out, or elsewise virtually eliminated in certain places [like airports], or if you’re overseas even in allied countries), like the “*administrative* confiscation or “detention” of your property” (whether it’s your money, your car, your cell phone, your laptop, etc.) — to take *anything* from you, or search *inside* your clothing, or demand that you give anything to them, without a warrant, unless the *PIGS* see something that is a clear & imminent danger, or if the *PIGS* see something (like a brick/bag of cocaine or meth) in plain sight. The *PIGS* obviously didn’t see the Latino immigrant’s money in plain sight because it was in his wallet(!!) — but the *PIGS* intimidated &/or tricked the, after all, Latino immigrant into giving up his (the Latino’s) rights by getting him (the Latino) to just hand over the wallet while not even under arrest!


      But, the *PIGS* have a long history of taking –*stealing*– people’s money — especially people of color and poor people — and letting those people *try* and get it back (a *very* long process, even if the *PIGS* illegally stole that person’s money in the first place). If the camera wasn’t there recording the incident and posted / released so publicly, the *PIGS* would have just probably split the money between / among themselves! And to think how much of this stuff was going on — for *DECADES* — when white people thought that people of color were lying about such things — longgg before cell phone video cameras could expose it.


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