OUTSIDE AGITATORS: In the above photograph, a Garden Grove police officer (notice the patch on his right shoulder), joins along with dozens of cops called in from Buena Park, Westminster, Santa Ana, Brea, Fountain Valley, and elsewhere, to repress a protest taking place outside Anaheim City Hall by hundreds of residents, many from nearby working-class Mexican neighborhoods.
I don’t know how many of you are aware of this, but Anaheim City Officials, including Police Chief John Welter, are resorting to the convenient scapegoat of blaming “outside agitators” for the “civil unrest” that took place on the streets outside City Hall last Tuesday night. At a Wednesday press conference, Welter made the ridiculous argument that about 2/3rds of the 1,000 or so protesters who assembled that evening didn’t live in the city. Last night, I spoke with a journalist who challenged Welter’s claim, pointing out that approximately 20 of the 24 people arrested that night were Anaheim residents–some evidence that rebuts Welter. In response, Welter couldn’t offer him anything to back up his arguments. In a recent interview with the Orange County Register, he says he “thinks” that most of the people in attendance were “outsiders,” but then makes the contradictory statement that they are just “estimates” and there is no way of vouching for accuracy. He also hints in the interview that “Occupy Wall Street” was one of the “agitators.”
Blaming “outside agitators” is a very old tactic and was frequently used by racist politicians in the South during the civil rights movement of the 1960s to dismiss protests by oppressed peoples–specifically those organized by people of color. Every time that politicians invoke the claim that “outside agitators” are coming into the community to stir up trouble, they are making an effort to marginalize grievances by hinting they are inauthentic and foreign to the community, hence not worthy of listening to. In addition to this, they are subtly suggesting that oppressed peoples who are protesting are too stupid to mobilize in defense of their own interests and are hapless fools who are being manipulated by “outsiders” with fiendish motives. But most importantly, they are trying to divert attention away from their own malfeasance and ineptitude, and the root causes of unhappiness among the masses: namely high unemployment, racial discrimination, political disenfranchisement, police brutality, poor housing conditions, poverty, and social inequality.
As a longtime Anaheim resident and a former organizer of many protests, demonstrations, and marches here in Orange County, which varied in size from 8 to 800 people, it is my professional opinion that, after reviewing video footage and photographs, a solid majority of persons who participated in the actions that took place around City Hall last Tuesday were residents. Although I do not deny the fact that a portion of the crowd were “outsiders,” those numbers are no where near the 2/3rds that Welter estimates. Looking at social media pages and websites of groups that I know participated in this action, I estimate that less than 1/3rd of the protesters were “outsiders,” and many probably came from Fullerton, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and Buena Park, cities that border Anaheim. I suspect a few might have traveled from as far away as Long Beach and Los Angeles. I noticed many participants were young men and women, some juveniles. If so, they probably came from nearby working-class Mexican neighborhoods that happen to engulf the downtown area.
Welter is one of the most sophisticated Police Chiefs that Anaheim has ever had and is very good at manipulating public opinion. I think it’s very important to issue some kind of rebuttal to the utter bullshit that he and other Anaheim City Officials are peddling, especially the subtle attempt to demonize “Occupy Wall Street,” a movement which I strongly sympathize with. If anybody here is interested in joining along with me to organize a press conference here in Anaheim, possibly sometime next week, to counteract the garbage he and others are disseminating, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Minor correction: When I originally posted this article, I inadvertently spelled the Anaheim Police Chief’s last name as “Welters” instead of “Welter.” When I discovered this error, I made the necessary corrections in the text and the headline. I apologize for this mistake.]