Racism is on call
Police brutality doesn't clock out when the work day is over.
March 1, 2017
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Sometimes, it feels like I’m drowning in a saline pool, as on the morning of Feb. 22, when I opened up to an eight-minute-long Facebook video a mutual friend had shared depicting an incident in Anaheim in which an off-duty Los Angeles Police Officer physically harassed and subsequently shot at a group of brown boys who seemed to be walking home from school.
The video broke on social media Feb. 22 and currently has over 11 million views. After the video’s emergence, numerous protests over the incident rose in Anaheim.
The situation is unsettling, especially considering the fact that it’s brown people, undocumented or otherwise, who are being targeted nationwide since President Donald Trump took office. This especially impacts California, where the Latinx population rounds out to about 14.99 million, according to a 2015 U.S. census. This act of brutality against brown children is a clear indicator that even in “liberal” California, police forces and President Trump’s administration are more than willing to perpetuate the criminalization of brown bodies.
Police brutality comes as no surprise to those aware of the history of the police force, and its grim roots in antebellum south, where police worked to capture runaway slaves and return them back to their white plantation owners. The very notion of a police force is intrinsic with the criminalization and abuse of black and brown people, and this video delivered a burning ray of light on something malignant festering in our very own backyard.
The incident began when a group of teenagers walking on the sidewalk were harassed by off-duty LAPD officer Kevin Ferguson. The teenagers allege that Ferguson initially used a gender-based profanity at a girl within the group because she was walking on his lawn. A separate video depicts the scene moments before a youth was grabbed by the hoodie and detained, in which the 13-year-old Christian Dorscht says to Ferguson: “You could have said, ‘get off my lawn,’ but you didn’t. You said ‘get off my lawn you f*cking c*nt.’”
In the remainder of the the altercation, the viewer can clearly witness the tight hold Ferguson has on Christian. The video escalates violently from there, after a friend tackles Ferguson over a hedge in an attempt to get the adult off of Christian. Ferguson hangs on to the youth by the shoulders, soon drawing a gun out of his pants at the 2:06 mark and firing a single shot at the ground.
According to an article by the Los Angeles Times, Ferguson and Anaheim police said the gunfire was a “warning shot” that was intended to get the situation “under control.”
Considering that it was Ferguson who instigated the situation by antagonizing minors for the possibly annoying, yet lawful, action of walking across his lawn — I find it hard to believe that gunfire is standard protocol (or even necessary) for diffusing a situation.
After the gunfire sounded, the crowd of teenagers immediately disperse in a frenzy. From there, we are able to witness what occurs when the cops roll up to the scene – which doesn’t amount to much. Christian and his friend were arrested for “alleged criminal threats” and battery.
According to another LA Times article, Officer Ferguson (as well as numerous sources within the Anaheim Police Department and LAPD) said that the group of teenagers were “continually” walking through his lawn, and denied having said anything profane to the group prior to the altercation.
The same article writes that Ferguson claimed to have heard Christian say that he was “going to shoot” him prior to sicking himself on the 13 year-old. One video of the transgression depicts Ferguson telling Christian that if he did not want an altercation, then he should have not said he was going to “shoot him,” to which Christian immediately protests, saying that he had originally said he was going to “sue” Ferguson.
Though the incident is under further investigation by the APD (while the officer’s actions will be reviewed by LAPD and the Inspector General), Ferguson is on-duty but not “working the field,” according to the article by the LA Times.
Meanwhile, Christian and his 16-year-old friend were apprehended by the police in another classic example of the method in which authorities target children based on racial profiling.
In a political era where the character of Latinx people is being questioned on a national scale, these acts of racism fuel ideas of respectability so that self defense and criminal behavior are being conflated. Meaning, 13-year-olds who are being terrorized by unidentified police officers with guns beneath their belts are criminalized without question of validity.
The national status quo of racism continues to permeate on a statewide level because of the way people are privileged by the subjugation of certain communities through the policing of low-income neighborhoods that leads to modern day segregation. Middle class neighborhoods are at will to enforce discrimination as they see fit in order to keep their communities respectable, and I can only imagine that this altercation is an indicator of the severe and hostile growth of policing against Latinx people that is to come.
In Governor Jerry Brown’s State of the State Address, he said that California will not “look back” from their perceivably progressive stance in socioeconomic politics in the face of the Trump administration and anti-immigrant rhetoric. And yet, the consequences incited from a police officer pulling a gun out on a 13-year-old Latino, no matter the context, is underwhelming and could very well normalize the act of trigger-happy cops firing rounds at brown children.
Though the investigation continues, I think it’s safe to say that Police Officer Ferguson will continue to “protect and serve” the people of Los Angeles, leaving police brutality left unaccounted for once again.