A California police department has launched an investigation into its own officers who were filmed yelling copyrighted Disney music in an effort to stop residents from recording it.
The incident in question occurred during a vehicle search on the night of April 4, when residents of Santa Ana, a town near Los Angeles, woke up to a series of Disney songs playing in front of their Windows. Songs included You Got a Friend in Me by Toy Story, We Don’t Talk About Bruno by Encanto, Mulan’s Reflection and Un Poco Loco by Coco.
According to a video posted on YouTube, the songs came out of a police car belonging to officers investigating a stolen vehicle.
In the video, a woman can be heard asking the officers, “What is the music for? saying she was unable to sleep.
Johnathan Hernandez, a Santa Ana councilman, is seen later in the video, asking the officers, “Guys, what’s up with the music here?”
An unnamed officer told Hernandez that he was playing music from his phone and on the cruiser’s PA system in an attempt to stop a resident, who was recording him, from continuing to do so. The officer explained that it was a “copyright violation”.
Hernandez then asked the officer if he knew who he was, to which he replied, “You’re a city councilman.”
“Absolutely…and this is my neighborhood. You’re not going to behave like that in front of my neighbors,” Hernandez can be heard saying.
The officer then repeatedly apologized to Hernandez and the person filming the incident.
“My people live here, my brother. Please treat them with respect… There are children who need to go to school. There are people working. You chose to use our taxpayers’ money to disrespect a man with your music. It’s childish, sir,” Hernandez told the officer.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Hernandez explained that her neighbors were scared and confused by the behavior. He added that he found it ironic that the police were playing Encanto and Coco songs in a predominantly Latino neighborhood.
“These are movies that have been used to bring the Latino community together,” Hernandez said, “and the police are using them to silence them.”
The Santa Ana Police Department responded to the incident, saying it was investigating the officers involved.
“We are committed to serving our community and we understand the concerns around video. The Santa Ana Police Department takes all complaints about the service provided by the department and the conduct of its employees seriously. Our department is committed to conducting full, thorough and objective investigations,” he said.
The incident reflects a seemingly growing trend of police releasing copyrighted music to prevent videos of them from being posted to social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, which can remove content that includes unauthorized content.
Last July, an Oakland, California, police officer was filmed blowing up Taylor Swift’s Blank Space while confronting several activists on the steps of a courthouse.
Similarly, in February of last year, an individual who filmed his visit to the Beverly Hills police station, where he was seeking body images, encountered an officer who started playing Santeria from Sublime.