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Police reaction to LGBT noose sparks outrage

October 29, 2010 6:15:18 PM PDT
Members of a gay rights group are leveling angry charges at the Santa Ana Police Department. When a noose was placed on the door of their office, the group claims officers failed to treat it as a hate crime. That office is on the 1600 block of South Grand Avenue. Police officers arrived Friday as a part of the investigation of what police are calling a hate crime.

Santa Ana Police are taking heat after the person who discovered a noose hanging on the office door Thursday night claims that police did not take the findings seriously.

A worker discovered a black cloth noose hanging from the door of Equality California, the state's largest advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The discovery was made at the Orange County office before 6 p.m. Thursday.

The office was closed and the volunteer with the group was unlocking the doors for campaign workers who were working the phones for state assembly candidate Melissa Fox, a pro-equality candidate.

"It was very overwhelming, it was very frightening and it is something that we've interpreted as an act of hate against the LGBT community," said Mel Distel, a volunteer at Equality California. "The police responded to the scene about an hour and a half after I made the call. The officer that we spoke to, he mentioned that what it is, is a string on a door and continued on to tell us that sometimes you just have to live with being a victim."

"I was not there, I don't know what transpired or what offended them," said Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. "My suggestion to them is if they feel that way they should come in and we can remedy the problem through our internal-affairs process."

Equality California says it does plan to file a formal complaint with the police. In the meantime, police are searching for the person or persons who left the noose on the door handle. At this point the incident would be considered a misdemeanor.


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