More than two dozen protesters demonstrated Thursday night in front of Los Angeles Police Department officer Kevin Ferguson’s Anaheim home, objecting to District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ decision not to file criminal charges after a 2017 scuffle with a teenager led to Ferguson firing his pistol but not hitting anyone.
“It (the DA’s decision Wednesday) doesn’t surprise me because it happens all the time,” activist Naui Huitzilopochtli said. “They (District Attorney’s office) pretend they’re investigating, they wait a year, they do their press conference and they think people are not watching, but people are watching.”
The roughly three-hour demonstration evolved into a wider protest of what participants said was a countywide and regional problem of police treating white children differently from children of color.
“We’re starting to see a little bit more of these cases that are black, brown youth, they are often treated differently,” Orange County resident and protester Emily Velazquez told Voice of OC. “In places where I’ve grown up, I’ve seen the differences like when they (police) speak kindly to a white child ... But to a black or brown child it’s a completely different energy, a completely different use of words and intimidation. I think that’s a big difference.”
Ferguson, then 33, was off duty on February 21 when a group of four juveniles, on their way home from school, walked past his corner property on West Palais Road in Anaheim.
One of the teens, a female, walked across Ferguson’s lawn, apparently a persistent problem in the neighborhood, according to some neighbors and Anaheim police.
Ferguson called the girl a vulgar term, prompting another teen, 13-year-old Christian Dorscht, to intervene. The DA did not identify any of the students, but Dorscht’s parents later identified him to media.
Cell phone video footage of the encounter quickly went viral, and sparked hundreds of people to protest in front of Ferguson’s home that evening.
Protesters began gathering around Ferguson’s house around 4:45 p.m Thursday as at least a dozen Anaheim police officers were around the corner, while three officers watched from across the street.
Just as the group began to grow in front of Ferguson's house, two police officers walked up to the protestors and handed out pink and blue fliers that listed "protest expectations." The flier warned against vandalism, instigating a riot and blocking traffic. It also said the police are "present to ensure public safety, not to prohibit anyone from protesting."
One demonstrator, Rosie -- who didn’t want to give her last name -- was wrapped in the U.S. flag and said Rackauckas’ decision creates more division in the county and Ferguson should lose his badge.
“He needs to be charged with kidnapping and attempted murder … he’s way too trigger happy to be a police officer. We don’t need that kind of negativity here in Orange County. Orange County’s racist enough as it is,” Rosie said.
Huitzilopochtli, who helped organize the protest, said Rackauckas applied a double standard in the Ferguson investigation.
“In the world I live in, if I would’ve done that, I would’ve been in jail. I probably would’ve got my ass kicked by the cops too,” Huitzilopochtli said. “To me, the DA has a history of being racist.”
Families were watching their children practice soccer in the park about 100 feet from Ferguson’s home and were caught by surprise when protesters started chanting. Drivers through the neighborhood also looked perplexed by the small demonstration.
The group started chanting “our people are under attack -- what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” and “Prosecute killer cops!” on the corner, with a few standing on the grass that the girl allegedly walked over.
The protesters made a small march down to the corner of West Palais Road and Euclid Avenue, where they continued their chants and waved their signs at passing cars. They marched back to Ferguson’s house just after 6 p.m.
Velazquez said her friends have told her they noticed a difference in the way police handle different groups of people.
“I have white friends and they said, ‘We grew up thinking the cops are someone we could go to for help. We could see the difference, where you grew up, that’s the last place you could go for help,’” Velazquez said, who didn’t specify which city she lives in.
The protest wrapped up around 7 p.m., but not before a neighbor was seen walking to Ferguson’s house and eventually he went inside, which drew the attention -- and ire -- of the eight remaining demonstrators.
They immediately started yelling things like “racist motherfucker!” and “pussy ass bitch!” when they saw Ferguson’s front door open to let his neighbor in.
“I’m on your grass, call me a cunt, motherfucker!” Rosie yelled, using the same term Ferguson allegedly call the girl who walked on his grass.
The demonstrators slowly disappeared and were gone by 7:30 p.m. No arrests were made and no damage to the area was visible.
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC reporter who covers south Orange County and Fullerton. You can reach him at email@example.com.