This outrageous viral video shows a police officer grabbing the wallet of a hotdog vendor and removing every bit of cash in it. Because you know, the law.
Civil forfeiture is a controversial legal process which allows police officers to seize assets from suspects of an illegal activity. A due process or even charges are not required for authorities to snatch property if they suspect it has been involved in any wrongdoing.
This officer from the California Police Department at Berkeley University gave a hot dog stand owner a ticket for selling without a permit at a Cal game, but apparently also opted to take all the money out of the man’s wallet.
“We’ll take it to the judge and the judge can decide whether or not it’s right,” the officer says in the clip. “He doesn’t have a permit.”
Martin Flores, LA resident and Berkeley alumni, shot the video and shared it on Facebook over the weekend, garnering more than 11 million views at the time of writing. He also started a GoFundMe campaign to aid Juan the hotdog vendor, which so far has received over $40,000 in donations.
Vicky Zamarripa, a Berkeley student as well, has also taken to social media and opened a petition to remove the officer from the force. So far her call has received more than 22,000 signatures.
In 2015, the then US Attorney General Eric Holder ended ‘adoptive forfeiture’, but in July of this year, the US Justice Department sought to reinstate police seizure powers to raise funds for federal agencies.
Civil forfeiture has always been such a polemic issue because of the abuse it can entail. On one side of the discussion, proponents see it as an effective tool to hit the finances of criminal organizations, while strengthening law enforcement agencies at the same time.
Detractors on the other hand, argue that innocent citizens can be entangled in unnecessary processes and basic property rights violations, while pointing out the many instances of apparent corruption and authority misbehavior documented over the years.
Despite the general outcry, the practice is set to continue as long as one of its biggest advocates, Jeff Sessions, remains as Attorney General.