To Slay an Imaginary Hobgoblin: Debunking Anaheim Police Chief John Welter’s ‘Outside Agitator’ Claim


INSIDE AGITATOR: “The reason why Mr. Welter’s remarks are disturbing is because blaming outside agitators for protests was a tactic invoked by racist Sheriffs south of the Mason-Dixon line during the civil rights movement. It was frequently used to dismiss the legitimate grievances of people–particularly non-white people–who were protesting against injustices wrought against them by their government.” 

Henry Louis Mencken, the famously acerbic newspaper columnist for the Baltimore Sun, once wrote that “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

No truer words can be said of the political situation here in Anaheim where Police Chief John Welter, supposedly one of Orange County’s most “progressive” lawmen, quickly resorted to the age-old tactic of blaming “outside agitators” for the “civil unrest” that has been taking place.

Borrowing a script racist Sheriffs frequently used during the civil rights movement of the 1960s to dismiss the legitimate grievances of non-white peoples, he’s made absurd claims that more than “two-thirds” of the 1,000 or more working-class Mexican residents that protested outside City Hall on July 24th didn’t live here.

Up until now, Chief Welter has been wildly successful in manipulating the mainstream media to accept his fantastic account that  hundreds of “anarchists” and members of “Occupy Wall Street” stormed into town that night with the underlying goal of smashing every storefront window they could find.

Although complete and utter nonsense, Welter’s tripe had the effect of spooking quite a few locals, and reportedly almost caused the cancellation of a City Council meeting that occurred on the afternoon of August 8th at Anaheim High School’s Cook Auditorium, not very far from the halls of power.

But thanks to the internet, cracks in the structure of this mythical narrative are beginning to emerge. Tomorrow night’s meeting of the Anaheim City Council should prove to be very interesting, to say the least. In a rhetorical sense, I think Welter’s imaginary hobgoblin, the “outside agitator,” is about to be slain.

YouTube version of the above speech, if the video above didn’t work for you:

About Duane Roberts