Outcry after police take California hot dog vendor's money

The University of California said Monday it will investigate a police officer's decision to confiscate a vendor's money for selling bacon hot dogs on a Berkeley sidewalk without a permit.

Video of the incident on Saturday outside of a college football game sparked an online outcry and led to a fundraising campaign for the vendor that had raised more than $50,000 as of Tuesday morning. The vendor was not identified by authorities. A petition to remove the officer has also gained more than 26,000 signatures. 

In the video clip that a bystander posted on his Twitter account, the bystander questioned the officer's decision to confiscate the man's money as unfair. The bystander, who has identified himself as UC Berkeley alumnus Martin Flores, tells the officer what he was doing was "not right."

"You're going to take his hard-earned money," Flores asks the officer.

The officer said on the video that the vendor was operating without a permit and that a judge could "decide whether or not it's right."

Facebook and Twitter messages to Flores were not immediately returned.

University Police Sgt. Sabrina Reich said the officer cited the vendor for operating without a license and the money was seized as evidence of the "suspected proceeds of the violation." UC officials said the officer seized $60.

"In general, when an officer issues a citation, makes an arrest, or investigates a crime, the officer may seize items as evidence of the proceeds of the crime or violation," Reich said in an email.

Reich did not immediately respond to a request to identify the officer.

UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy said in a statement that the university has instructed officers to monitor illegal vending outside event venues over concerns about public health and local businesses.

"While I cannot comment on the specifics of this particular case, our practice is to issue warnings before giving a citation," he said. UC police detained three other people for vending without a license the same day, but each was released with a warning, UC officials said.

Biddy said UC police will investigate the incident.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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