A stunned look fell over the hot dog vendor’s face as a police officer, ticketing him for lacking a permit, reached into the man’s wallet and pulled out $60. The vendor and a passer-by recording the exchange protested. “That’s not right,” said the cameraman. “That’s how it works,” replied the officer, of U.C. Berkeley’s police department. And now, video of the encounter outside a Golden Bears football game Saturday has become a fixation of the internet outrage machine. Uploaded over the weekend, it’s been watched millions of times and prompted demands for the officer’s firing. It’s also reinvigorated a debate in California over civil forfeiture, which allows the authorities to seize cash and property from people suspected of wrongdoing. Last year, the practice brought the state’s law enforcement agencies more than $115 million, according to government figures. Policing groups argue that it’s an essential tool in combating drug trafficking. Critics say it’s been misused to generate revenue, in some cases from suspects never convicted of wrongdoing.
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cdreimer writes: According to a report in The New York Times (possibly paywalled, alternative source), a University of California Berkeley police officer ticketed and then seized $60 in cash from the wallet of a hot dog vendor operating without a permit. A bystander recorded the encounter on video. According for a spokesperson for U.C. Berkeley police, the cash was seized as evidence of a crime. A GoFundMe campaign has raised over $70,000 for the hot dog vendor and other cart vendors for legal action against the police and university.