How Do Police Respond To Noose Left At EQCA Office? ‘Sometimes You Just Have To Live With Being a Victim’

Amidst downsizing reports comes word the Santa Ana office of Equality California was treated to some dirtbag leaving a noose on the door handle.

Volunteer Mel Distel posts to Facebook about the incident, relaying that when the police arrived, an officer told her, uh, tough luck.

I’m still shaking as I write this. I feel confused.

Tonight I arrived to unlock the office while Daniel was picking up scripts at Kinkos. There was a small noose hanging from the door handle. Being that we are an organization advocating for gay rights, I felt the message like a chill through my spine. This was intentional. At the encouragement of fellow activists, I called the Santa Ana Police Department and officers were sent out to our office.

I couldn’t get the image out of my head. I smoked a cigarette outside the office and my thoughts were spinning. I felt jumpy, and was startled when any person or car crossed my line of vision. This was a message of hate, and I felt unsafe. Inside the office, our phone bankers were shocked and hurting. They continued on with their phone bank calls (vote for Melissa Fox) and worked to stay focussed on the task at hand.

I could not focus. I could barely make calls. I waited for the police to arrive, believing that when they did I would feel safe and affirmed.

When the police arrived, two officers spoke to Daniel [Shad, a fellow EQCA worker] and myself outside. The male officer dominated the conversation. There was nothing they could do, of course, there was no suspect and no crime had been committed. The officer said “what it is, is a string on a door.” My vision got blurry, I was embarrased and felt stupid for making the call. I took a deep breath and said “Do you see any correlation between the fact that this is a gay office and there was a noose left on our door in the wake of all of these teen suicides?” The officer said, “Sometimes you just have to live with being a victim,” and proceeded to mention that his car had been broken into before. As if that’s the same. As if having your stereo stolen is anything like the message “You should kill yourself.” As if random theft is anything like an act meant to convey hate and stir up fear in the heart of a minority group.

I want to thank Karla for having a long discussion with the sargeant about the situation. No, it was not legally a hate crime, because there was no crime (just hate). And the officer likely did not intend to come off the way he did.

But I’m still in shock. I pray that no officer ever tells a bullied teen that, “sometimes you just have to live with being a victim.” The officer made me feel foolish for being shocked and afraid. I feel stupid and unjustified. Our volunteers felt hurt, angered and confused.

I am so grateful for the excellent family of volunteers who came together tonight, supported eachother, worked through their emotions, and even made an astonishing number of phone bank calls.

I am sorry for anyone who has experienced hate or intimidation, and my heart goes out to anyone who has reported it and been made to feel stupid for reaching out for help.

Stay strong, Orange County, the fight for tolerance has not yet been won.

Sometimes a noose is just a piece of string? Actually, no. As The Liberal OC points out, what happened was an act of intimidation based on sexual orientation, which is at least a hate incident, if not a hate crime, and should be registered and investigated by police as such.


Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #california #equalitycalifornia(eqca) #police stories and more


  • JumpingUp

    Gotta be careful with the “noose cases.” Sometimes they turn out to have been left by the “victim” himself/herself, like with the professor at Columbia U.

  • UMB

    It IS a crime, Mr. Police Man. From the California penal code:

    11411. (a) Any person who hangs a noose, knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life, on the property of another, without authorization, for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property, or who hangs a noose, knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life, on the property of a primary school, junior high school, high school, college campus, public park, or place of employment, for the purpose of terrorizing any person who attends or works at the school,
    park, or place of employment, or who is otherwise associated with
    the school, park, or place of employment, shall be punished by
    imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for the first conviction or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for any subsequent conviction.

    Doesn’t get much more clear than that.

  • Zoe Nicholson

    my comment on the OC Register – after reading the terrible comments left there –

    I heard about this late last night. This AM I got an email from a young friend who had nightmares. The officer and the comments here demonstrate a real misunderstanding of the social significance of nooses, at least I hope that is the case although the officer mentioning the rainbow flag implies that it somehow attracted the possibility of hateful harassment.
    There is a terrible cycle of hate and fear rumbling around which is all backlash, as it is certain that American is going to take the brave step of eliminating second class citizenship once and for all. Equality will not be denied.

  • CityTime

    An elegantly black Halloween noose? I call “fraud.” A gay man left that there himself.

  • CityTime

    And Zoe, if you have a friend who had nightmares over something as silly as this, then he or she must live an awfully sheltered coddled life.

  • Fitz

    Flame away.. but…. Mel is much more likely to be killed by her coping mechanism (smoking) than this childish prank.

  • DR

    no security cameras, no witnesses, and probably not gonna be any physical evidence on the noose itself and the doorknob is useless unless only a few people have access to it. And no property damage.

    This is not a case that’s gonna get a lot of man hours, sorry. That’s the way it is.

  • Ronbo

    I think the backlash here is misguided and self-hating. I see that it was the officers attitude that was more the problem. When good people stand aside as evil approaches, all is lost. When the police don’t suggest simple solutions … a motion activated camera, organizing watches, calling the media, etc… it is a sign that society (in general) don’t see bullying as a big deal. Michelle Obama can wail all she wants; but, her husband just reinforced the biggest organized bullying effort in our nations’ history (DADT).

    The officers might have expressed these uncaring sentiments, or not; I don’t know. However, my experience is that police officers are generally – good ol’ boys and girls – jaded and bigoted, just like America (maybe a bit more, they form their bias on a much more condensed and intense timeframe). I’d like to see a police/GLBT meeting to show the community (bullys) that the police stand by LGBT Americans. It’s a start. The finish is up to the community. In today’s economic environment, the bigots are gaining; our job is tougher – but it is ultimately our job.

  • Jack

    Well this is frightening, I really hope nothing comes of this.

  • Michael Hudston

    The attitude of that police officer is an absolute disgrace, he should be totally ashamed of himself, and resign immediately. He obviously has no comprehension of the realities of living a life as a hated minority.

  • Brian Miller

    I’d imagine that if someone left it on the cop’s doorknob at his private residence, he wouldn’t say it was “just a piece of string.”

Comments are closed.