Wed. Jun 12th, 2024

Santa Ana Police Officer Nelson Sasscer

A protest taking place tonight has ruffled quite a few feathers in Santa Ana because the event organizers referred to the site of the protest as “Black Panther Park” instead of Sasscer Park.  The reference to the Black Panthers is rooted in history – but most Santa Ana residents probably don’t know why the park is called Sasscer, or what the Black Panthers had to do with Sasscer in the firct place.

Santa Ana police officer Nelson Sasscer was shot while on duty on June 4, in 1969, and eventually died as a result. Sasscer was ambushed by a member of the Santa Ana Chapter of the Black Panthers, a radical group that expressed hatred for police officers and has been accused of being racist against white people.  Members and former members of the group were responsible for the murders of at least 15 law enforcement officers and the wounding of dozens more across the nation in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Sasscer was a Vietnam War veteran who was the SAPD’s 1968 rookie of the year.   A Panther newsletter referred to Sasscer as “Rookie Pig of the Year.”

Arthur League

A Black Panther, Arthur League, was arrested and eventually was found to be guilty of second-degree murder.  League served seven years of a five-years-to-life sentence. He returned to Santa Ana after his release then moved to the Bay Area and never lived in Orange County again.

League continued the activist life outside of prison.  A 2005 Workers World article quoted League as saying, “When people fight back, this place is set up to make the most extreme examples of them. . . . If you’ve been convicted of a felony, you’re a legal slave in the United States.”

ARthur League, Santa Ana Black Panther

Today League remains in the Bay Area and he still maintains that he was innocent and didn’t kill Sasscer.

Sasscer’s death did have at least one major repercussion in that it led to the creation of the Orange County Human Rights Commission.

Daniel Michael Lynem, the former leader of the Santa Ana Chapter of the Black Panthers, regrets fostering the anti-police sentiments that led to Sasscer’s murder. “I wish it never happened,” he says.

Sasscer is gone but not forgotten by Santa Ana’s police officers.  Every May, his name is read in the roll call at the Plaza of the Flags naming of every Orange County law-enforcement official killed in the line of duty. A Santa Ana policemen dresses as Sasscer, down to his badge number: 112.  You can also read personal comments from those who remember Sasscer and his murder, at this link.

Today anti-police fervor is once again rising, in the wake of the death of a young man named Michael Brown, at the hands of a police officer, in Ferguson, MO.  Brown is thought to have robbed a store and was allegedly walking down the middle of a street when the police officer, Darren Wilson, asked him to stop. The two ended up tussling and Wilson shot Brown repeatedly, alleging that Brown went for his gun then charged at him.

Santa Ana Protest 12.3 National Day of Action

Tonight’s protest actually has nothing to do with Brown but rather has to do with the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico, after a Mayor allegedly asked the local police to get rid of them.  The Mexican police reportedly turned the students over to a drug gang, who is said to have killed the students and hid their remains.

It is a shame that the event organizers have chosen to glorify cop killers in their event flier.  What is the sense of doing this?  Sasscer was innocent and killing him deprived our city of the services of a fine young police officer who was just beginning his career in law enforcement.

(An article by the OC Weekly was the source for much of the material in this post.  Click here to read that article.)

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

8 thoughts on “Why did Santa Ana protest organizers choose to glorify cop killers?”
  1. There is a level of disrespect of which I have never seen in all my years here in Santa Ana being direct at our police officers. Most of Santa Ana’s residents support our PD and should make our voices heard. Just as we need to take back our council meetings from the unhinged mobs with their profanity laced tirades, we need to come out in mass and show our support for law enforcement.

    1. You have your heroes, we have ours. You control the city council and naming rights to parks, we control our flyers.

      Part of protesting and resistance, arguably the most important part, is taking back the dominant narrative or culture. Cops have become these sacred cows, operating with impunity and military force against a civilian population. We would like to change that.

      One way is by forgetting the martyrs of the ruling class and replacing them with our forgotten martyrs. Never forget that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

      The reality of police in culture today has resulted in invincible supercops who have little chance of criminal prosecution should they kill someone, justified or not. Half of the 50 police killed each year come from car accidents, not thugs. A majority of shows on television are about police or detectives getting the “bad guys”. Police are celebrated at baseball games, dinners, and city councils almost as a requirement.

      So I’d say you won already, no need for a mass show of support.

      So if you won, we lost. Cops are not sacred cows to us but public servants, and never should have been put on such an untouchable pedestal. We stopped being objective and took everything they do as a positive because sometimes they catch criminals. But sometimes they murder innocent people, and the community has a right to fight back, in court, city council, or otherwise.

      We only put “aka Sasscer Park” because people don’t know it as Black Panther Park…yet. We are changing that with every protest and generation.

      (I didn’t make this flyer, but I have made others with the same reference.)

    2. The issue is police accountability for their actions as public servants in their careers of choice that provide them an authority in which they should be held to a higher level for the oath they were sworn to uphold the law in OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM. A Justice system established to provide for the rights of all in the pursuit of justice. Again, the issue is police misconduct which has crossed all race lines and genders. It is natural in personal devastation to seek justice by whatever means necessary. However, the issue is lost when the basis for these acts is focused on race. African Americans are not the only victims of this injustice. Jason E. Hallstrom was Caucasian and was the murder victim of SAPD. His murder has not had the attention and investigations it deserves. Ignorance is displayed within all races and economic classes when comments and actions are made showing total support of one side or the other. There are many persons in law enforcement whom are good, acting with integrity and respect for their positions. There is also many bad members of law enforcement that should be publicly prosecuted by the courts they were sworn to uphold for their actions that install fear and have the potential for the loss of human lives. To support only one side or the other adds to the problem and mimics the acts of disregard, expecting immunity due to career. Every person is held accountable within their chosen professions and is expected to abide by the laws of this great Nation. A member of law enforcement is no different and should hold a higher regard for its status as role models for the laws they act to uphold. Children are raised to be the members of the next generation through lessons based on honor and integrity; the demands required of these children to seek higher education and formulate a drive to be productive persons within their communities are established by lessons and examples of models. These attributes are greatly conflicted with they witness persons that act in any manner to obtain their personal goals and disregard for the rights of others. Transparency should not be a choice, it is not a threat when each person is accountable for their actions and words. Integrity is the lost value that defines a person by actions that reflect values and beliefs. Although a badge is a display of courage and public servitude, it’s cannot provide protection for persons whom act as criminals in their pursuit of criminals. It all starts with the District Attorney. The recent acts and allegations exposing misconduct, regardless of the level, provides the notion that they are exempt and are excused from accountability. Change will not happen when the DA is the investigating department for the law enforcement members whose actions are being investigated. Before you take a position or point out the problem, find a solution or assist in finding a resolution. It will enlighten your perception and enable you to understand the issues by learning both sides, good and bad.

      1. Tiffany,

        I am personally saddened when anyone loses their life. I am sorry for your loss, however I disagree with your characterization of Mr. Hallstrom’s death as a murder. I don’t believe Mr. Hallstrom and his associate were completely innocent.

        This post however is about the callous disregard for the memory of Officer Nelson Sasscer, who was murdered while serving the people of Santa Ana. Surely, being someone who has lost someone, you don’t support these yayhoos spitting on Sasscer’s memory.

    1. And why not anonymous?

      Except for a few “activists” with nothing better to do, most people do not have a problem with cops and they way they do their job. Of course, criminals and their families like to bang the drum.

      The marchers are merely noise makers, whose time would be better spent giving back to the community, not trying to destroy it. GET INVOLVED.

  2. Hi, I was somewhat surprised to see this post. My name is Daniel Michael Lynem, I’m the former Black Panther mentioned in this article. I lived this sitution in 1969 an was arrested and charged with 1st degree murder in this case. Charges were dropped an I was released. Of course, there’s a lot more to this situation than printed here, an there are also some mis-statements in this article. I’m not going to write a correction.

    Arthur and I eventually went in different directions. He, as far as I know, continued as an activist an I went from drug addiction, to prison, to giving my life to Jesus Christ. That was over 35 yrs ago an I’m still living my life submitted to Him as Lord of my life. So, I’m not the person I was in 1969. Looking back I have a number of regrets an the killing of Officer Sasser is one of those situations I regret ever happening. There were a lot of things that led up to an contributed to that fateful night(Check the. O.C Weekly article link on this page). They did a good job keeping the facts right. I’ll say this. The state this coutry is in an seems to be continuing in is worse, in a number of ways, regarding the relationship between police an blacks/minorities etc, than it was in 60’s/70’s. In this situation there is right an wrong on both sides. No one is willing to admit theirs. I’m convinced that the road that has us at this point began way way back. This culture in eliminating God from our schools an the public square has replaced absolute moral truth, believing in a right an wrong, with relativism, truth is what one believes it is. What’s truth for me may not be truth for you. That thinking is anarchy in the making. Then there’s the downfall of the family. Even Godless communism knows if you destory the (traditional ) family you will destroy a nation. The family is the foundational backbone of any society. As a Christian, of course I’m convinced that we need national repentance an a turning to faith in Christ. Where does that start. With our young men, one on one. I’m currently involved in developing a mentoring program to accomplish this. We all can go online an talk trash on each other, an continue to spread the hate or we can, as the old saying goes, put your money where your mouth is or put up or shut up. Either way, it starts with me, with you….I’m making myself available. Anyone who wants to communicate with me can hit me on my Facebook page: Daniel Michael Lynem Sr. I will respond. Feel free to ask questions about anything I’ve written about here. My past life, BBP life etc.

    Much Love,
    Daniel Lynem
    Eph 3:20

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