Free Tatiana Turner: Is Orange County Waging a War on Black Lives Matter?

Okay, imagine this.  And maybe you’ll be able to, now that we’ve all seen footage of the insurrectionists storming the Capitol January 6, the white supremacists, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, grizzled, muscled, bearing weapons and seething with rage.  Imagine you’re alone in your car and twenty of those same people are surrounding you, pounding and yelling things like “Let’s see her get out of HERE.”

And the Sheriffs who are supposed to be keeping peace are nowhere to be seen.  And you call 911 to tell them that you’re surrounded by an angry mob, and that some of them are brandishing guns, because they were, and the lady on the phone just says, “Calm down, can you tell me, what does this man look like?  What is he wearing?  What sort of gun does he have and is he pointing it at you?  Where is his location exactly?”  And after a while you can’t even hear the operator over the yelling and banging, and the helicopter hovering overhead telling everyone to “disperse.”

And also, you’re a black woman.  Or, if you’re white and that’s too hard to imagine, imagine that all the scary people banging on your car and yelling at you are black.  Can you imagine, when one of them “donkey-kicks” the back of your car, making a huge BOOM sound inside that could be anything, finally panicking, putting your foot on the throttle, and pushing your way out of that crowd?

Because that’s what happened with Tatiana Turner in Yorba Linda September 26, and our DA has charged her with ATTEMPTED MURDER and is holding her for A MILLION DOLLARS BAIL.

“Attempted murder?” According to US Legal.com, “In order for a person to be guilty of attempted murder, that person should have deliberately, intentionally or recklessly with extreme disregard for human life, attempted to kill someone.”  Overcharging any?  Tatiana hurt two people pushing through that crowd, but you think she actually PLANNED to KILL anybody?  As you can clearly see above, Tatiana’s car jerked forward a HALF-SECOND after the huge thump of a boot on her back chassis, and then when the crowd in front of her reacted by pounding even harder she really panicked and pushed forward.  It looks more like possible “assault with a deadly weapon,” in self-defense.  

So Tatiana and other Black Lives Matter activists are locked up in OC jails, heavily charged, while numerous white supremacist troublemakers are roaming the OC free even though we’ve documented many of their bloody acts:

Like that creepy Proud Boy who boasts about his unnecessary extreme violence in Yorba Linda in the video above – that’s Escondido’s Mick “Florio” Sobczak (also known as “Mickey Knuckles”) – he is still free and hanging onto his American Legion leadership post despite the national organization’s attempts to oust him, and selling his trademark Mickey Knuckles Street Wear. 

Or like Kim Sorgente (of HB) and Joe “Magapit” Vargas (of SA), both of whom this blog has documented beating and injuring three local Santa Ana guys who were just trying to get away from their “Stop the Steal” rally Dec. 6 – we gave the evidence long ago to both the SAPD and the OCDA.  But still Kim and Joe managed to make it to DC to participate in the January 6 Insurrection, and were even both trumpeting their hate at March 20’s anti-vaxx “Worldwide Rally for Freedom” at the HB Pier.   [Update: Sorgente has JUST NOW on March 23 been arrested for 2 charges of assault with a deadly weapon on Dec 6, but his bail was originally only $25,000.]

Or like Huntington Beach’s nightmarish Cassandra Ferragamo, still undisturbed by law enforcement after ripping the hairpiece off a young black female passerby at an LA Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally while her comrades maced the girl in the eyes, declaring the hairpiece “the first scalp in the new civil war?”

Cassandra all in black, yanking off Berlinda’s hairpiece.

Anyway who “drives into a crowd of protesters?”

Drivers who hate Black Lives Matter protesters are the ones who drive into crowds purposely, with the goal of hurting or scaring people.  There were 104 instances of this happening in the six months following the George Floyd murder, and the Tatiana incident was the ONLY ONE with the scenario reversed, with a Black Lives Matter sympathizer hitting counter-protestors.  (In a list compiled by University of Chicago terrorism researcher Ari Weil.)  “Man bites dog” indeed.  Yet the majority of these drivers went free, charged or uncharged, while Tatiana sits in jail charged with attempted murder.

Moreover, Tatiana did not “drive into a crowd of protesters,” even though that’s the way a lot of media outlets headlined it.  Clearly, she drove OUT, through the surrounding crowd.  The surrounding, menacing crowd. Of counter-protesters.  Who would not let her out.

SOME CONTEXT

Context can be like the volume knob on an amplifier.  When giving context to the events in Yorba Linda 9/26/2020, we don’t need to turn the dial all the way to 8, to take into account America’s 400-year history of slavery and lynching.  Nor do we have to turn it up to 4 to include the smooth transition this past century into policing and incarceration that overwhelmingly targets African Americans.  Or even to 2 to include the launching of Black Lives Matter and the growing public awareness of the ongoing police slaughter of black folks from Michael Brown to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.  We only need to go back 1 month before Yorba Linda, to Tatiana’s first experience of Orange County:

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***Seal Beach, August 29***

Tatiana’s Long Beach-based “Caravan 4 Justice” had been organizing Black Lives Matter rallies (as well as feeding homeless and registering voters) for a year or so, when they became aware that things were getting a little rough for black folks right across the San Gabriel River in neighboring Seal Beach, that hot summer of George Floyd.

Nothing DRAMATICALLY new, a little googling shows that back in 2012, Long Beach stopped bus service to Seal Beach, calling the neighboring town “racist” because of a lot of SB residents’ hostility to black bus riders, a move that inconvenienced a lot of commuters.   But in the summer of 2020 it started getting worse.  Black-owned businesses were harassed, a black kid was chased down the street by a gang of white kids calling him the n-word.

Dr. Covington

Most notably, Dr. Jimmie Covington, a black Seal Beach theologian married to a white woman, began to get regularly terrorized by local white teenagers, at first the victim of ding-dong-ditch-em with the n-word thrown in.  Not satisfied, the kids got their hands on an M-80 which they stuck behind Dr. Covington’s screen door, damaging his front door when it exploded and terrifying his wife.  This case, involving mostly juveniles, is still crawling its way through the OC court system.  Some of the culprits appear to be the offspring of outspoken anti-mask activists (whom we won’t name here.)  

This was all in the months following the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor killings, and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter across the nation.  Even in Seal Beach, simpatico local folks started having small marches and candlelight vigils at the pier in support of black victims of police violence.   

Seal Beach Fuck Black Lives I mean Back the Blue rally, summer 2020

The reaction to THAT outrage was led by the “Seal Beach Republican Women Federated Community,” and took the form of “Back the Blue” pro-police rallies.  Now, on its own, there’s nothing wrong with a pro-police “Back the Blue” rally – most Americans support the police when they’re not doing anything terrible.  But as a response to a movement defending black victims of overwhelming and unjust police violence nationwide, “Back the Blue” means nothing other than “Fuck Black Lives.”

Steel piggybacks.

One politician who quickly took advantage of these reactionary Seal Beach rallies was anti-mask Supervisor Michelle Steel, then in a tight race for Congress.  She began to show up with plenty of signs and tried to turn the whole thing into a pre-fab Steel rally, actually irritating some organizers who were more serious about the “issue.” (Spoiler alert Michelle is in Congress now.)

Well, once word got out that Tatiana’s Caravan 4 Justice (along with “Urban Organizers Coalition”) was planning a rally/march for black lives in their “peaceful little town,” Seal Beach reactionaries’ fear level shot skyward.  We’ll talk later about how the history of OC in general has been rooted for decades in fear of blacks; more recently these poor whites had been terrorized by propaganda outlets from FOX News and President Trump, telling them that BLM wanted no less than to burn down their city. 

Next door in the other direction, MMA fighter Tito Ortiz was riding fear of BLM into the Huntington Beach council, with his clownish “defense” of HB’s downtown from “outside agitators.”  And when these reactionaries felt silly or maybe even racist by fearmongering against a movement called “Black Lives Matter,” they’d bring up the scarier boogiemen of “Antifa” and “anarchists,” (and always with the urban myth that there were stacks of bricks stashed away somewhere in town to help protesters in breaking windows.)  Here is how the Seal Beach Republican Women reacted to Tatiana’s invitation:

Caravan 4 Justice and the Urban Organizers Coalition had a traditional way of putting these events on – a slow caravan of cars would be accompanied by marchers with signs.  The police department was notified, and actually according to organizers the Seal Beach Police Department was very fair and professional, under the fine leadership of Chief Philip Gonshak. 

One concern of the group, in that summer of 2020, was always the coronavirus – counter-protesters to BLM were generally not only crazed and hostile but also non-believers in the pandemic, and refused to wear masks.  So Tatiana and a few other organizers kept 6-foot wooden sticks with them, which they’d hold out, shouting “Six feet!” at folks who would try to rush up to them. 

Well, the caravan hadn’t even crossed Pacific Coast Highway before they were attacked by counter-protesters, yelling “nigger-lovers” at ’em…

Well, the Seal Beach Republican Women may have stayed home behind their locked doors, terrified and praying for survival, but the Tough Weird Guys of Seal Beach were out in force protecting the town from the dark, foreign threat.  For example, a guy we only know as “Creepy Nicolas Cage,” who threw a half-full beer bottle (that he’d been concealing) through the open car window of a caravan participant who later needed stitches.  Creepy Nicolas Cage:

Then there was the even creepier guy who stood glowering in a back yard separated from PCH by a low wall, brandishing a rifle.  Turned out on further research the guy was an off-duty Long Beach cop, and the back yard appears to belong to a former Seal Beach Police Chief.  Weird…

But most crazed of all were two Seal Beach friends and neighbors, both ex-military, Charlie Powell and Doug Renick.  Powell, a former Army guy who now works as a civilian contractor at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, showed up in leather gloves to exhibit his paunchy gut and threaten protestors with his spear:

Three views of Charlie Powell that day.

Meanwhile Powell’s neighbor Renick, an ex-Marine and sometime Long Beach teacher (with a troubled record of dealing with his black students) was behaving as if he’d taken a really tainted batch of speed – charging in a crouched-down combat-like position  at random protesters who kept begging him to leave them alone.  In Seal Beach Police Sgt. Chris Hendrix’ view, Renick’s behavior “just seemed grossly immature and kind of stupid.”

At one point Charlie Powell punched a woman

This led to other protesters knocking Powell down, Renick charging up to join the fray, and Tatiana hitting them both with her six-foot wooden stick.  This is the incident that allowed Orange County DASpitzer to add extra charges to her attempted murder charge: “two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, including one causing great bodily injury in connection with an attack on two men at a Seal Beach… [leaving] one of the victims with injuries to his head so severe they required staples.”  That woulda been Doug Renick, who, shirtless and with bleeding head, continued to run madly at passing cars, terrifying and cold-cocking people.  It was like some early Wes Craven B-movie.  Apparently he did need stitches later, but he eventually drove himself home that afternoon.

Well, with the professional and even-handed help of the Seal Beach police, the march for justice continued and was as much of a success as could be expected.  The conclusion the terrified Seal Beach Republican Women came to is summarized here:

(LOL, Trump holding that Bible upside down.)  Meanwhile Tatiana and her fellow organizers reached the conclusion that, if they ever came to Orange County again, with all these crazed middle-aged white guys brandishing spears and guns, throwing bottles and punches, they were going to need SHIELDS.

And that turned out to be:

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***Yorba Linda, September 26***

Oh, Seal Beach was nothing compared to Yorba Linda.  Tia and her partners may not have realized it at first, but Yorba Linda is pretty much Southern California’s Epicenter of Hate, where white supremacist thugs from FIVE COUNTIES converge to wreak their havoc. 

  • This blog covered the anti-Islam rally there ten years ago featuring Republican Congressmen and Deborah Pauly, terrorizing and demonizing local Muslim families who were just trying to raise funds for a battered women’s shelter.   
  • A year later a black family, both parents in law enforcement, had to move from YL to Corona because of all the rock-throwing, tire-slashing, and N-word screaming. 
  • And my own Mexican wife has never been so racially profiled as when she was paid to do canvassing work there, with both Sheriffs and passersby informing her helpfully that she “doesn’t look like she fits in here.”

But it was none of those incidents that led to Yorba Linda folks asking Tatiana to help organize a “March 4 Equality” there in September, it was the devastating Kentucky Grand Jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case not to indict any of the three policemen for killing the innocent black ER technician.  Another big bellow of “Black Lives Don’t Matter!” coming from the old racist south.

But look at the flyer above for the Yorba Linda march – do you see anything hostile or threatening there?  White supremacists from five counties looked at it and their blood boiled.  On forums like Yorba Linda Uncensored they vowed to come to town in droves and fight off the uppity intruders.  Tatiana saw all these threats online, and she was scared, and begged all the nice white folks of Orange County to show up and have their back.  Only a few did.

“Patriot Ben Burkman” – one of hundreds of menacing characters welcoming BLM to Yorba Linda that day.

The sixty or so protesters who gathered in the Yorba Linda Library parking lot to the north of Imperial Highway were quickly outnumbered nearly ten to one.  Hundreds of “counter-protesters” – Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, maladjusted ex-military and ex-law enforcement, armed with guns, bats and brass knuckles – lined the south side of the street but were loath to stay there.

No Yorba Linda police force existing, it’s up to Don Barnes’ OC Sheriffs to keep order there, and at first they put a little effort into keeping the “counter-protesters” on their side of the street, although many slipped over onto the median, yelling at the hated blacks and liberals.  Soon the sheriffs tired of this task and mainly moved on to direct auto traffic around the protest, leaving the small rally at the mercy of the mob, who were soon overrun.  (You heard “Mick Florio” in the video above thanking Sheriffs for “letting us go at it.”)   Battle-ready Antifa are a fever dream of the right; the very few BLM-ers who fought back that day were unusually brave, outnumbered and outgunned.  (This video’s long, just catch a bit for an idea of the day.)

Obviously there would be no march in Yorba Linda that day.  It was time to give up and go.  Tia was a target – the mob knew she was the organizer.  She got in her car but they surrounded her and wouldn’t let her leave.  She called 911 with no success at all.  Someone in the front laughed “Let’s see her get out of here!”  Another big ugly guy yelled something (we don’t know what) into her passenger window, then went to the back to kick her car hard.  She moved forward, hurting two counter-protesters, and the rest is history.

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A Brief History of the OC

My late friend Gus Ayer dated the roots of modern Orange County to a white-flight exodus from LA during and after the Watts Riots of the 1960′s – the “Orange Curtain” became a dependable shield from the nearby urban scariness, be it black, brown, or poor.  At the same time, as we learned in our re-publication of Tom Rogers’ Agents’ Orange, Proposition 14 – a white fight against having to rent to blacks – became a rallying cry for our OC grandparents.  But even before all that, as some folks recently penned in a piece called “OC’s Relapse of Far-Right Extremism,”

Rackauckas

“Up through the 1950s, the entire county was considered a “sundown town” hostile to people of color. New suburbs of largely white defense and aerospace workers provided followings for the Communist-obsessed John Birch Society, as well as militant Walter Knott, his patriot-themed berry farm and his School of Anti- Communism… The surf spots at Huntington Beach became a draw for skinheads, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, including a local right-wing fight club that trained for combat at political demonstrations across the state and whose members in 2017 assaulted counter-demonstrators at the deadly Unite the Right march in Charlottesville, Va.”

These things die hard, and I feel like I’m just going through the motions of describing all this for the umpteenth time.  Demographics and education are changing the hell out of us for the better, but any movement for justice is still going to provoke a violent reaction here, among the remaining folks who think that justice and equality are a zero-sum game.

Two years ago we changed our DA … for a lot of reasons … but one reason many of us supported the challenger Todd Spitzer was because the old guy Rackauckas was a demagogue who played to the fear of the white masses by meting out draconian injustice to the poor, brown and black.  We had a lot of signs that Spitzer might be better, but…

Which Spitzer Will it Be?

Our DA seems to want to please both reformers and the trembling masses.  He doesn’t even seem to notice when he contradicts himself.  (He’s had that quality for decades.)  In February he released a visionary-sounding statement decrying both mass incarceration and systemic racism in the justice system, and pledging reforms to end both.  (Thus pleasing liberals, if they trust him.)

At the same time, he has begun to treat the new Los Angeles DA George Gascón, who has actually instituted these reforms, as a nemesis and whipping boy, calling him “pro-criminal,” and attempting to portray himself as the Anti-Gascón. (Thus pleasing reactionaries, if they trust him.)

Newsflash, Todd:  You can maybe say Gascón goes too far at times, or that he is better suited to LA and you to OC, but you can’t be both a progressive reformer and The Opposite of Gascón.

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ANYWAY, that’s a lot of context.  But long story short, I don’t think Tatiana Turner was trying to kill anybody when she pushed her throttle and drove her way out of the crowd that day.  I don’t think Spitzer can convict her of attempted murder, and he shouldn’t be using her to show his conservative voters how tough on Black Lives Matter he can be.  And I think she should be out on a lot lower bail than a million dollars, like most of the insurrectionists who tried to violently overthrow our democracy on January 6 are.

Tatiana’s next pre-trial will be April 23 at the North Justice Center, we’ll be watching.

If you want to write to her, keep her spirits up, put money on her books, etc.:
Tatiana Rita Turner, 3176874
Intake Release Center (Women)
Orange County Sheriff’s Department
550 N. Flower St.
Santa Ana, Ca. 92703.

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.
Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be,
by the better angels of our nature.”

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UPDATE 5-4-21

Tatiana had her last “pre-trial” April 23 in West Court, her next will be May 28; she’s being represented by Public Defender Alisha Montoro. Spitzer just keeps adding charges; now she’s charged with 13 felonies.

The big one is ATTEMPTING TO MURDER counter-protestor Danielle Lindgren, “willfully, deliberately and with pre-meditation.” This is also an extra charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

Then there’s the other counter-protestor she hurt, Brian W (she broke his leg) – she is accused of “unlawfully and maliciously disable, dismember, disfigure, and render useless the body part of Brian W.” This is also an extra charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

She’s got four extra charges of assault with a deadly weapon for four other counter-protestors who were touched by her car – George P, Terry L, and two John Does.

All of the above look like panicked self-defense to us.

She’s been given other felony charges for using tear gas and a taser earlier in the day, and for hitting two counter-protestors with a stick a month earlier in Seal Beach (whch we reported on.) Here’s her charges:

http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Tatiana-charges-as-of-April.pdf

Meanwhile, Danielle Lindgren, the protestor she ran over and is accused of purposely trying to kill, has been charged with a misdemeanor for “possession of a prohibited weapon,” a “billy.”

http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Daniell-Lindgren-charges.pdf


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.