VIDEO: Car Hits ACLU Attorney, Activist at Tony Rackauckas Fundraiser!
Protesters demand T-Rack step down
Photo by Theresa Smith
UPDATE, JUN. 6, 8:55 P.M.: Collene Campbell, an 84-year-old former mayor of San Juan Capistrano, gave her side of the "T-Wreck" from the passenger seat to the OC Register. She claimed protesters blocked the exit when her equally-old husband Gary tried leaving the parking lot of Turnip Rose where DA Tony Rackauckas enjoyed a reelection fundraiser. He yelled for them to get out of the way while the car crept forward. "The guy jumped on the hood of the car," Collene told the Register.
The couple drove all the way home, but reported the incident to the police when they arrived. Costa Mesa police made no arrests. The ex-mayor mentioned her son's murder as part of a tragic family history that filled them with fear last night. "When you've had your family members murdered like we have and you have people attacking your car, you're not going to sit there and say 'Are you going to kill me, too, or are we just playing games here?'" Collene said.
Now that both sides have had their say, it's time for the tale of the tape.
UPDATE JUN. 6, 4;00 P.M.: The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California finally released a statement about one of their staff attorneys getting struck by a car last night. "During a peaceful protest Tuesday evening outside a fundraiser for Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, a car leaving a parking lot ploughed into protesters including ACLU staff attorney Brendan Hamme," Hector Villagra, Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California, states. "At a time when protesters are increasingly seen as targets, we find this chilling incident to be unacceptable and urge the police and prosecutors to send the message that protest met with violence will not be tolerated."
Villagra also states that Costa Mesa police later tracked down the driver and interviewed him. An investigator informed the civil liberties group that a hit-and-run report was filed. The video taken by a protester at the scene hasn't been released by the ACLU of Southern California making this the greatest story still unseen.
UPDATE, JUN. 6, 12:33 P.M.: Costa Mesa police released a statement today regarding last night's "T-Wreck" after T-Rack's fundraising shindig. "Costa Mesa Police Department officers responded to a call of a hit and run incident involving a vehicle and two pedestrian protesters at the Turnip Rose Elite Catering...where a fundraiser for District Attorney Tony Rackauckas was being held," writes Traffic Commander Lt. Victor Bakkila. "We have been in contact with all parties involved and a thorough investigation is being conducted."
Witnesses are being asked to contact Detective Darren Wood at 714-754-5264. Police won't release any more information on the incident until deemed "appropriate."
ORIGINAL POST, JUN. 6, 7:31 A.M.: Around 15 people peacefully protested a fundraiser for Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas last evening at Turnip Rose in Costa Mesa. They demanded his resignation amid the ongoing OC jailhouse snitch scandal; T-Rack sought to raise funds for reelection next year at the Lincoln Club-hosted dinner.
"I will be running on the strong track record of our office where I oversee and am responsible for the performance of hundreds of attorneys, investigators and professional staff who work tirelessly to ensure to administration of justice in our county," Rackauckas wrote in the invitation, as straight-faced as his lies about the snitch-scandal on 60 Minutes last month.
Crashing the party, protesters held sings reading "Who prosecutes the OCDA?" and "Resign now Tony!" In attendance were people whose loved ones were directly impacted by the DA's incompetence, including Ronnie Sandoval, mother of the late Arthur Carmona. Tony's guests didn't care: they spewed nasty comments at the protesters on their way into the event.
"Fuck you guys, Trump won!" one woman said. "Don't come near my fucking car. I'll jump out of this car and beat the fuck out of you," another man snarled. Security came out to film the protesters while being jerks about it all.
And then there was this woman, claiming to be the property owner in an uncouth manner only to get shook with a "Congratulations!" by a protester. Roll the tape!
When the fundraiser for Rackauckas ended, things took a turn for the worse. A gray, four-door sedan pulled out of Turnip Rose's tiny parking lot and hit two of the protesters without provocation. "The driver just rammed through us instead of stopping," says Jordan Hoiberg, an activist with the Socialist Party USA, who was struck while walking across the street. He's the luckier of the two, getting grazed off to the side at a slow speed. "He sped up into the other person and then went off down the wrong side of the road to get away," Hoiberg adds.
The other person struck? Brendan Hamme, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California staff attorney. Hamme got pinned to the hood before falling to the ground, unable to move his neck without pain afterward. "I was reaching for my coffee, heard screaming and saw Brendan fall," says Theresa Smith. Rackauckas cleared five Anaheim cops who killed her son Caesar Cruz in 2009, transforming her into an activist against his office ever since. "He stepped on the gas, literally, and just hit him!"
An ambulance arrived and transferred Hamme to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach for treatment of his injuries, including a mild concussion. Costa Mesa Police questioned witnesses at the scene and reviewed video. The driver, an older white guy with a younger woman in the passenger seat who onlookers say laughed at it all, sped away, but not before protesters took down his douchey custom license plate.
Hey, asshole: Where you at?
The Weekly is working on getting a copy of the video, currently in the possession of the ACLU, which is expected to issue a statement later today and release the tape. Calls for comment to the Costa Mesa Police weren't even picked up.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.