The Santa Ana Police Department’s ‘Show of Farce’


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SHOW OF FARCE: The Santa Ana Police Department demonstrates to the world that their top priority on a busy Saturday night is not to patrol the community and apprehend would-be burglars, robbers, and rapists, but to deploy between 17 and 23 cops, some on horseback, to arrest four young men who non-violently “occupied” a patch of publicly-owned grass at that city’s Civic Center.

Last Saturday night, while attending the “Occupy Santa Ana” demonstration at that city’s Civic Center, I had the opportunity to watch the Santa Ana Police Department deploy between 17 and 23 cops to arrest four young men who decided to non-violently “occupy” a patch of publicly-owned grass not far from the Orange County Clerk-Recorder’s Office. I don’t understand why they needed an equestrian unit on the scene for crowd control especially since I estimated there were probably less than 50 people milling about.

Nevertheless, this rather huge contingent of Santa Ana police, no doubt held over from an earlier shift and likely earning quite a bit of overtime pay by now, at first spent time monitoring us from afar in the parking lot of the old County Courthouse. But not long after the young men erected two tents on the lawn, cops began swarming all over the place, some on horseback. As I watched them handcuff and place the men one by one into a van waiting to haul them off to jail, I wondered how much taxpayer money was being wasted on this?

As any Chief of Police will tell you, Saturday nights are the busiest nights for any law enforcement agency serving an urban area. So while Santa Ana police were taking their time removing men who committed the heinous “crime” of sitting in tents on public property, I thought about all the burglaries, robberies, rapes, and other violent offenses that might be occurring in other parts of that nearly-bankrupt town. I’m sure most residents would be pleased to know Santa Ana’s finest were working hard to keep “lawbreakers” off the grass.

But what is ironic is shortly after Santa Ana police left the Civic Center, that same patch of grass the men had been arrested on ended up being “occupied” after all. As Andrew Galvin, a reporter for the Orange County Register pointed out, a “handful of protesters actually spent the night on [the] lawn.” There was nothing in Galvin’s article indicating cops even bothered returning to the scene to harass or intimidate them. So all of this begs the question: what the heck were Santa Ana police doing? Was this a show of force? Or a show of farce?


About Duane Roberts