"F--- THE Police" Hat Breaks Up Santa Ana City Council Meeting - NBC Southern California

"F--- THE Police" Hat Breaks Up Santa Ana City Council Meeting

Community members could be heard shouting "We have a right to be in the room!" in a YouTube video of the incident

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    A man wearing a "F--- THE Police" hat prompted an abrupt end to a Santa Ana City Council meeting in October 2014. The incident comes as tensions between residents and police and city officials continues to grow.

    Tension between city officials and the public continued to mount in Santa Ana after a man donning a "F--- the Police" hat prompted officials to shut down a city council meeting earlier this week.

    Mayor Miguel Pulido canceled the Santa Ana City Council meeting on Tuesday in a caught-on-camera incident that was posted on YouTube and reported by the Orange County Register.

    Members of the public planning on speaking during public comment had packed into the council chambers, the YouTube video showed.

    But before the meeting began, Pulido said he found the hat offensive, and the public was asked to leave the chambers, leading to moments of confusion as police helped empty the room, the OC Register reported.

    Several members of the public defied officers and councilmembers who were telling them to leave, asking what they were doing wrong in a heated confrontation with city officials, the video showed.

    "Start the meeting!" attendees can be heard shouting in the video.

    "We have a right to be in the room!" said another attendee.

    The man wearing the hat, who identified himself as Bijan, told the Orange County Register Tuesday he was part of an organization called CopWatch Santa Ana and that he’d come to the meeting to address police abuse after he was recently arrested. The group monitors and local police activity and records officers' action on camera, according to the OC Register.

    The incident comes after similar tension built at another meeting last month.

    At the start of a meeting on Sept. 2, Pulido was recognizing police officers for their service when he stopped to ask City Attorney Sonia Carvalho to remove certain public commenters holding signs he believed were "offensive and inappropriate" from the room, pointing out a specific man in the front row, according to video posted on the council's minutes website.

    Carvalho told him they could only ask for respect but could not remove them.

    Later in the Sept. 2 meeting, public commenters expressed discontent with the way city officials were handling issues in Santa Ana, including one who claimed the city issued 300 tickets to homeless people instead of addressing the problem.

    "You keep damaging any kind of relationships we can build with the police," the commenter said at the meeting.

    Officials also became frustrated, including Councilwoman Michele Martinez, who said she will not mind if she isn’t "reelected in November."

    "As I sat here and listened to all the comments, it’s really disheartening. People want to come here and threaten us," Martinez could be seen saying in the video. "At the end of the day let me tell you I can go to sleep at night, so I don’t care if you feel that I have not done a job that you’ve asked me to do."

    Officials could not immediately be reached for comment about either incident. Requests for comment from CopWatch Santa Ana were not returned by time of publication.

    Tuesday's incident has spread across social media, sparking a debate over First Amendment rights.

    The next city council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 21.

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