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Vol. 81/No. 10      March 13, 2017

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Protests hit cop attack on youth in California

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Three hundred people took to the streets here Feb. 22 after a confrontation the day before between 13-year-old Christian Dorscht and off-duty Los Angeles cop Kevin Ferguson. Videos taken on the scene and widely circulated online show Ferguson grab Dorscht by the neck, drag him across lawns and over a hedge, and, when confronted by other young people, take out his gun and fire a shot.

Young people have continued to demonstrate since, demanding the cop be prosecuted. Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, and other SWP members have built and joined the actions.

“Let go of me, I’m only like 13,” Dorscht says as he is dragged. Other youth on the scene say the adult never identified himself as a cop. After some schoolmates try to get him away, the cop pulls a concealed gun from his waistband and fires a shot into the ground. Dorscht and a 15-year-old youth who had tried to free him were arrested and charged with assault and battery. A dozen other young people were taken to the cop station and grilled. No charges were filed against the cop.

In an interview on KTLA-TV after he was released, Dorscht said the incident began when the cop cursed at a girl he accused of stepping on his lawn. “I said, ‘Hey, that’s not how you treat a lady.’ And then he came at me,” Dorscht said. “He hit me. I ran to the street to run away from him, and he got me.”

“This cop is just irate, starts charging after this poor kid,” a neighbor who witnessed the incident said, backing up the boy’s account.

The cop accuses the teenager of threatening to shoot him. “I didn’t say that. Why are you lying?” Dorscht is shown in the video saying. “I said I’m going to sue you.”

Outrage at what the video shows, and that the cop is walking free, sparked hundreds to march around the area the next night. “It could have been me, my friend or someone from my family,” said Jocelyne Gutierrez, 21. Twenty-three people were arrested. Isolated incidents of violence and vandalism occurred.

“My son Joel Acevedo was killed by the Anaheim police department July 22, 2012. He was 21 years old,” home health care worker Donna Acevedo told Richter at a protest Feb. 24. “My son was running away. He was beaten, handcuffed and shot in the back of the head. I’m not going to let anyone forget.”

“It’s very important that we continue to fight police brutality. The role of the cops — whether in Anaheim or Los Angeles — is to protect the private property of the capitalist rulers and to intimidate people, to get us to feel like there is nothing we can do about the conditions we are forced to live in,” Richter said. “Any questioning of how we are being treated is seen by the cops as resistance to be met with force on their part.”

At another demonstration of 100 in front of the Anaheim Police Station Feb. 26, Richter joined in a lively discussion and debate over an open mike.

“The police were not created to ‘serve and protect.’ The police were created to intimidate immigrants. The police were created to protect property and to be used against people of color,” Irvine high school student August Carleton said. “We need to tell the police to represent people of color.”

“The cops have to be held accountable. They aren’t above the law,” said Theresa Smith, whose son Caesar Cruz was killed by the Anaheim police in 2009. “What that officer did to those youth is come out with a loaded gun.”

“There’s no difference between a Mexican cop and a white cop. They work for the same white supremacist system,” said Naui Huitchilopochtli, a university utility worker.

A couple of speakers said we should drive the cop involved in the shooting out of the neighborhood.

“The system is built to oppress people of color. If you are white you have less chance of being killed. Sure some get killed but more as an outlier,” said Stephanie Lindo, a Black student attending Biola University.

What is role of the cops?

“I’m white. It’s not only Black and brown people killed by cops. These guys are killers and killers kill,” said Sara Hertl, whose brother Justin was killed by the Anaheim cops in 2003 in front of their grandmother. “My brother was 23 years old. He wasn’t a gang member. It’s not about race.”

“We demand the cop who manhandled the teenagers and shot his gun be arrested, charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Richter said. “We live under the system of capitalism. Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately killed by cops and fill the prisons in a larger percentage than Caucasians.”

“Do you know how many killings Los Angeles County cops have been charged with since 2000?” he asked. Some in the crowd shouted back, “Zero?”

“That’s right, zero,” Richter said.

“But there is another side of this,” he said. “There is no such thing as ‘white people.’ Tens of millions of working people who face economic carnage all across the country — no jobs, dangerous jobs, low pay, no health care, drugs and suicide. The majority are Caucasian.

“While a higher percentage of Blacks and Latinos are killed by cops than Caucasians, more Caucasians are killed by cops,” he said. “We live in a class-divided society. Workers have common interests no matter what our nationality and have a common enemy, the system that keeps in power the millionaires and billionaires of all hues who benefit from the cops’ protection and run this country.

“My party — the Socialist Workers Party — says working people need to build a working-class movement of the majority to take political power out of their hands,” Richter said, “like Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba did. They control their own destiny today.”
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