Anaheim community rallied and took the streets on Wednesday near the location where an off-duty LAPD officer fired his weapon at youth on Tuesday. The action was sparked over footage gone viral in the last day that shows an off-duty LAPD officer restraining an unarmed teenager, 13-year-old Christian Dorscht, near the officer’s property.
In some of the captured footage, Dorscht is seen trying to free himself from the plainclothes officer’s grip as he is pulled in to the lawn of a property. It is unclear if the officer ever presented any official identification to Dorscht or any of the present youth. Christian is heard saying “let me go” multiple times and one of the teenagers in the background can be heard stating, “they’re grabbing a minor.” This altercation allegedly began after the officer verbally assaulted one of the female teenagers for walking on his lawn. According to the teenagers on the video, when Dorscht tried to defend the girl, the officer then tried to hit him in the genitals to which Christian replied, “I’m going to sue you.” The officer took threat of the statement and held Dorscht against his will. Several youth gathered at the scene and one teenager tried to calmly free Christian until an altercation ensued. With Christian in the officer’s grip, they both went over a row of bushes when the officer pulled out a gun concealed under his shirt. The officer then fired a single round, which prompted some of the youth to run. Later in the footage, uniformed Anaheim police officers arrive on scene with Christian still being restrained by the off-duty LAPD officer.
Dorscht was booked at Orange County Juvenile Hall for “criminal threats and battery,” while another 15 year old male was arrested for “assault and battery.” The LAPD officer was put on a 72-hour administrative leave while expecting an investigation by the Orange County District Attorney and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Wednesday’s rally began near the 1620 block of Palais Road where community and supporters voiced their concerns over the officer firing his weapon at unarmed youth. The group began to gather strength by 7PM and was largely made up of youth, but also included several frustrated community members and parents.
“I’m a parent and I’ve seen that video and all I can do was cry because I just felt fear for my children,” shared one community member, “There is no reason for this to have happened! I ask every single neighbor on this street, please come out, please support these children, no child deserves this! Are you going to wait until a child is killed on your lawn by this maniac here that doesn’t know how to control his impulses!”
At one point during the rally, a community member noted that the LAPD officer’s home was actually two houses down. The group mobilized to the new location and continued to rally around demands of accountability for the officer’s actions. From concerns for public safety to increased racism towards the community, one issue that strongly resonated with the group was the act of “black and brown” solidarity demonstrated in the footage of the altercation.
“They’ve been getting us to fight over table scraps for generations!” shared Damion Ramirez, “But what I saw today, I saw one of my little brown brothers getting picked on by some fucking bully and I saw one of my black brothers come running and defend his ass. And that’s the way it’s going to be from now on!”
The group remained outside the home of the LAPD officer chanting and rallying for his immediate arrest, however, they soon mobilized after four uniformed Anaheim police officers approached the group claiming they were there for “their safety.” The angry community instead escorted them out of the neighborhood, responding that what they needed was the arrest of the officer that shot at the youth, claiming he was the real safety threat.
The growing crowd then mobilized onto Euclid St where it continued to gain the support of onlookers, incoming traffic, and passersby. While holding the Euclid St and Ball Rd intersection a child took a microphone to chant, “Don’t shoot the kids!” As the people marched back towards Palais Rd, officers suited in riot gear lined a formation to block the group from advancing on the street.
“My son is alive today, but if he would have not fought for his life along with those other children, he would be in a morgue right now!” shouted Christian’s mother through a microphone, “You almost killed my child! Stop shooting our kids, stop killing our kids, this is my child right here, this is my son. He’s 13 years old, he was not armed - he (the officer) was. He pulled out, he reached for his weapon, he took it out, he intended to shoot my son, he almost killed my son!”
While Christian’s mother was finishing her speech, reinforcement riot-geared officers ran along Euclid Street to continue holding a line. The demonstration moved on to the sidewalk and back towards Palais Road where they were now met with more officers in the neighborhood, blocking advancement towards the LAPD officer’s home. The crowd grew again and a young adult was shot in the lower body with a bean bag round by an officer. Unable to hold a line, several officers retreated back to Euclid Street and the group continued to rally in the Palais St neighborhood. By around 11PM, however, riot-suited officers were spread between Euclid Street and the LAPD officer’s home and began making arrests on people for “failure to disperse.”
For some, the echoes of sirens, youth chants, and police rounds where a reflection of the uprising that took place in Anaheim in 2012 after the killing of Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo by Anaheim police. A movement that had gathered strength earlier that year after the fatal shooting of Martin Hernandez by police, it gained national attention after follow-up actions were met with a local militarized police force.
In another parallel to that uprising, community members plan to attend the next Anaheim city council meeting on February 28 at 5PM. The 2012 uprising took shape when several community members and supporters, a large majority of them youth, were denied entrance to an Anaheim city council meeting and were instead met with a police force armed with riot gear.