Santa Ana police uploaded some Disney songs during a recent nightly investigation, apparently in an effort to prevent a local blogger from filming them while they were working.
The idea, according to the videographer and others, was that because social media platforms remove homemade videos with copyrighted music, any video made by the blogger would not spend much time online and would not be seen by many. people.
The video was filmed anyway. And it ended up starring Santa Ana police and a city councilor, Johnathan Ryan Hernandez, who reprimanded an officer for waking up his neighbors and disrespecting his community.
“Guys, what about music?” Hernandez asks officers in the video, which was filmed around 11 p.m., April 4. “I’m ashamed to treat my neighbors like that. There are kids here. Have some respect for my community.”
Now, Hernandez wants to make it illegal for Santa Ana police to play music at full volume while he works.
“This is a serious violation of civil rights,” Hernandez said in an interview this week.
Santa Ana police chief David Valentin called the video Thursday and said the incident is under investigation. The department, he said, has one politics which recognizes that members of the public may photograph and videotape police officers, and that police “will not intentionally prohibit or interfere with such legal recordings.”
“I’m upset by what’s apparently in the video,” Valentin said.
He said there is no policy or directive in the department that tells officers to avoid being videotaped while playing copyrighted music. Instead, he said, agents should assume they are being taxed.
“What appears in the video is the music playback supposedly from a public address system,” Valentin said. “It’s not something we train (do). That’s not appropriate. And that’s what worries me.”
This is what happened in the neighborhood of Artesia Pilar, as reported in a video that was posted on social media and has since been national news:
A resident who runs the Santa Ana Audits YouTube channel, which focuses on police videos, began filming after at least six patrol cars, with flashing lights, arrived near the Civic Center and North Western, where officers surrounded a Porsche that they believed stolen.
Referring to the car, the resident videographer speculated, “It must have been a high-speed chase or something.”
Soon, Randy Newman’s hit song “You Have a Friend in Me” from the 1995 film “Toy Story” could be heard at an extremely loud volume from one of the patrol cars. Several other Disney songs followed during the course of the video.
The resident videographer complained that police played Disney songs on purpose to prevent them from posting their videos online, as the videos may be removed if the accompanying music violates copyright infringement laws.
“Do you pay to listen to music and be around?” he shouted at the officers.
A neighbor also showed up at the scene and asked officers, “Can you download the music? I want to go to bed. “
At home, about half a block away, Hernandez also listened to the music, and soon appeared on the scene.
“Guys, what about music?” he asked. “Why are you playing Disney music?
One officer mentioned, as the videographer suspected, copyright infringement laws.
“He knows I have a YouTube channel!” the videographer told Hernandez.
“Are you using our resources?” Hernandez asked police.
The agent said no. Hernandez noted that they were at work, working with the penny of the taxpayers.
“Do you know who I am?” he asked then.
The officer said he recognized him: “You are a council.”
“Absolutely,” Hernandez said. “And this is my district. You’re not going to behave like that in front of my neighbors.”
“I apologize,” the agent replied.
Pointing to the resident with the YouTube channel, Hernandez added, “I apologize to him.”
And he did, one of several excuses that followed. “I realize my mistake,” the agent said.
“I’m ashamed that this is how I am treating my neighbors,” Hernandez said. “There are kids here. Have some respect for my community.”
The agent replied, “I am.”
After asking if the agent lives in Santa Ana (he doesn’t), Hernandez told him, “My people live here, brother. Please treat them with respect. There are children who have to go to school. There are people who are working. He chose to use our taxpayers’ dollars to disrespect a man with his music, that’s childish, sir.
The resident said he has the right of the First Amendment to film the police. “You do,” Hernandez told her.
In the end, the agent repeated that he had made a mistake. He and Hernandez shook hands. And the videographer soon stopped recording.
Since then, the video has been widely shared on social media, local TV stations, and some national news sites.
A growing movement of “First Amendment auditors” – such as the Santa Ana neighbor who videotaped on April 4 – has been filmed with police officers at work. Some applaud such efforts and say they promote transparency and open government and protect the constitutional rights of citizens. Critics, however, say video-recorded “audits” can be confrontational and interfere with police work.
In an interview on Wednesday, April 13, Hernandez said he wants to see “clear direction” from the police department that he will not tolerate similar incidents in the future.
“This has to be a practice that is being taught by someone,” Hernandez said. “I do not understand why there is no clear direction that this policy should be banned.”
“What is the purpose of violating people’s rights in the First Amendment?” he added, “What are we doing while the public is recording us that we don’t want them to see?”
Next Tuesday, Hernandez plans to ask his City Council colleagues to discuss and consider “a resolution, policy or ordinance to ban loud music for the use of police officers.”
Valentin, the police chief, did not want to say directly what he thought of Hernandez’s proposal other than to emphasize that the councilor has the right to bring the issues to his fellow councilors and that there is already a policy against the prevention of citizen videos in books .
That policy, titled “Public record of law enforcement activity”, states that the department “recognizes the right of persons to legally register members of this department who are performing their official functions.” It prohibits officers from intentionally interfering with the recording of their work, but also stipulates that, in certain circumstances, recordings may be considered as evidence and seized.
Valentin said on Thursday, April 14 that the administrative investigation of his department will involve interviewing the agent with whom Hernandez spoke. The investigation will also approach other officers who were at the scene and possibly other members of the community who were present.
An earlier one statesmenThe Santa Ana Police Department said the department is “committed to conducting thorough, thorough and objective investigations,” but did not acknowledge an official investigation into the April 4 incident, saying only officials knew about the video. he pledged to serve the community and understood “video-related concerns.”
Jennifer Rojas, a policy advocate and organizer of the Southern California ACLU Foundation, said the public has the right to the First Amendment to tax law enforcement in their work.
“We have seen repeatedly that these recordings provide accurate accounts in the face of distorted police reports. In the absence of a video of George Floyd’s murder, the public still believed the police statements that he died of ‘medical distress’,” he wrote in an email on Thursday.
Rojas also referred to an incident involving Santa Ana police officers who were eventually prosecuted for robbing a local marijuana dispensary during a raid. That incident, he wrote, “would not have been discovered without a third-party surveillance that caught them in the act.”
She also criticized the idea that at least some police officers may be using a tactic to evade public oversight.
“Obstructing the right to record by playing copyrighted music is a worrying and bad faith attempt to avoid the most basic measure of transparency: the public simply observes what they are doing. In fact, agents’ hostility to recording or publishing videos suggests that they are participating or want to participate in activities that they do not want the public to see.
The incident, Rojas continued, underscores the need to set up an independent civilian-led oversight commission for Santa Ana police departments. Santa Ana City Council is considering creating an audit commission.
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