Orange County is proving to the world once again that police are above the law.
Yesterday, a video surfaced online showing an off-duty LAPD officer forcefully grabbing and dragging 13-year-old Christian Dorscht, after he stood up for a girl the officer called a “cunt” and yelled to get off of his lawn.1 When other teens watching and filming try to help Christian, the officer pulled out his gun and fired a shot into the crowd–almost shooting the 13-year-old. If that isn’t upsetting enough, what happens next is even worse: when police show up, they let the officer–who still hasn’t been identified–walk free, but arrest Christian and another 15-year-old boy with charges of “battery and terrorist threats.” It’s a combination of white vigilante and police violence terror–and it’s horrifying.
Hundreds of people poured into the street last night in protest to demand the officer be charged.2 The Anaheim Police Department posted a statement that they are working on an investigation–but the power rests with the District Attorney’s office. And technically, after an investigation, the DA’s office could still charge the children that were terrorized on that day. That’s why we’re demanding that Orange County DA, Tony Rackauckas, immediately indict the officer–and refuse to prosecute any of the children involved. Will you sign the petition?
In the video, Christian can be heard pleading “stop grabbing me” and “I didn’t do anything to hurt you, all I said was respect a girl.” Then the cop responds, “you said you were going to shoot me.”3 Christian protests, “I didn’t say that, I said I’m going to sue you. Why are you lying?” as the off-duty officer grabs him roughly, dragging him across the lawn. That is how Christian Dorscht got nabbed with charges of “terrorist threats.” While the charges have been dropped, the District Attorney could file more at any given time–but we can’t let that happen.
District Attorney Rackauckas is vulnerable to public pressure right now. He’s up for re-election in 2018 and is already being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for illegal use of informants to deny fair trials.4 Right now a lot of the anger is being directed to the LAPD and Anaheim Police Department, but if we can direct that righteous anger towards Rackauckas, we can make it so he doesn’t have a choice but to stand on the right side of justice.
The fact that anyone, let alone a police officer, can shoot a gun at children who posed no threat and walk free while unarmed kids are arrested is an outrage–but not surprising. Over the past four years, since the killing of Trayvon Martin, we have seen hundreds of videos just like this. And hundreds of police officers have walked free. But while the idea of what “justice” means in this country has gotten weaker, our movement has gotten stronger.
Trump’s administration has been threatening to embolden police and make it even easier for them to literally get away with murder.5 We can count on him, together with his white nationalist friends the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) to make good on that promise–but that’s why we’ve got to resist even harder. When we can’t count on federal officials to achieve justice, holding local officials–like District Attorneys–responsible for fighting back is how we will win.
The Orange County District Attorney is accountable to the people, not the forces that want to protect killer cops. So, let’s make sure DA Tony Rackauckas has no choice but to respond to the voices of the people–or face us in 2018.
Until justice is real,
–Arisha, Rashad, Scott, Clarise, Enchanta, Anay, Malaya, and the rest of the Color Of Change team
1. “Father of boy nearly shot by off-duty cop in Anaheim:’This is not right,'” Fusion, 03-23-2017
2. “300 protest in Anaheim after videos show off-duty officer firing gun in dispute with teens,” LA Times, 03-23-2017
3. “Father of boy nearly shot by off-duty cop in Anaheim:’This is not right,'” Fusion, 03-23-2017
4. “Federal authorities investigate O.C. district attorney over jailhouse informants,” LA Times, 12-15-2016
5. “Trump Launches ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Regime with Three New Executive Orders on Law Enforcement,” Democracy Now, 02-10-2017