Chris Epting saves Huntington Beach from Cop-Killers! ***SNARK***




The Epting family finds a truffle!

The Epting family finds a truffle! (pic Register)

First off, KUDOS to former journalist Chris Epting for being the first to notice, at my friends’ Friday night HB Pier candlelight vigil against police killings, that someone had chalked the name Micah Xavier Johnson, the Dallas cop killer, on the boardwalk.

Micah Xavier Johnson.  I wouldn’t have known that name myself, but I’ll remember it now.  I did know some guy had lost it and killed a bunch of cops in Dallas the day before, but it sounded depressing so I didn’t watch any TV or read the news Thursday or Friday.  Plus I like FBI chief Comey’s policy of not mentioning the names of killers and terrorists since so many of them are after fame.

micah xavier johnsonBut I’ll be sure to remember that name now, Micah Xavier Johnson.  Because, God forbid, it could have been me who chalked that name, assuming it was just one more black kid shot in the back by a cop somewhere in the US, as I’m sure that poor girl at the Pier thought, as she copied it off a chronological internet list of people killed by cops this year.  (Obviously, Micah Xavier Johnson, most recent, came up first.)

Whatever it took, I’m glad that name got removed – the mass murderer Micah Xavier Johnson does not need to be there next to Kelly Thomas and Joel Acevedo, dishonoring the hundreds of police victims, many of them completely innocent, many others up to some sort of mischief but not needing to be killed like Micah Xavier Johnson needed to.  In fact if I’d been there, and knew who Micah Xavier Johnson was, I would have figured out some way to remove it – if necessary, with a stream of urine. (Purely as an emergency measure, you understand – and accepted the legal consequences.)


epting asshole with lady at vigilSo again, kudos.  But unfortunately this is Chris Epting we’re talking about, and Chris Epting is the biggest asshole in Orange County, if not a wider area.  Having gradually lost all relevance and credibility, having lost his column in the HB Independent due to his aggressive and erratic behavior, having wasted the whole past year on a fruitless crusade against popular school district president Gina Clayton-Tarvin simply because she refused to put up with his rudeness, he and his (even more unpleasant) son Charles showed up at this peaceful vigil just to make trouble, and unfortunately found something to make themselves relevant again – the name “Micah Xavier Johnson.”  Here he is to the left, hectoring the poor woman who chalked that name, as she abjectly apologizes that she didn’t know who Micah Xavier Johnson was.  Notice how he only gets in the face, like that, of women?

when epting met ginaBut now, triumphantly claiming to have “deflated” the vigil (which actually went on very nicely once he split) he’s re-invented himself as a hero to the many folks in Huntington Beach who don’t want too many black or brown folks here.  These folks are so sure that my peaceful friends showed up ON PURPOSE the day after a mass police shooting just to rub it in their faces and celebrate the name of Micah Xavier Johnson, that any reasonable explanation of how it actually happened just seems laughably dishonest or naive to them.  And Chris Epting (for the moment at least, until his craziness gets to be too much for even them) is now their knight in shining armor.

And yes, that’s the other thing:  Epting has become batshit insane.  A Grand Unified Theory of All Things Bad has been developing in his head, as he connects all the dots of everything that rubs him the wrong way.  He has been accusing the OC Weekly, Gustavo Arellano, and myself, of organizing the vigil – a ridiculous idea which has had the side-effect of making me and Gustavo more friendly again.  But how to tie in Gina?

gina memeChris’ inseparable online sidekick, the shoplifting, bunny-torturing astrologess Annmarie “Ourania Seven” Boyer [yes all true] roared that Denise De La Cruz’ fine OC Weekly account of the event, with its mention of “haters” in HB, was an attack on the whole town!  (As though mentioning that there are a lot of gangbangers in Santa Ana should be taken as an insult to all the good people of THAT town.)  Well, Chris and Annmarie have already convinced themselves that Gina and Gustavo have an improperly close relationship, with her telling him what to write, just because he gives her generally positive coverage.  That’s it – Gina must IMMEDIATELY DENOUNCE THE OC WEEKLY, or else she stands exposed as an ENEMY OF HUNTINGTON BEACH!  And by late Sunday Chris has been shouting that Gina (who was never even at the vigil) “supports cop killers.”  This madness at least makes for amusing memes, like the one to the left.

epting and bell“Why are you even here?” Chris snapped at Irvine’s polite and dignified black Reverend Everett Bell, who was trying patiently to talk Chris down off the ledge.  “Why did you come to Huntington Beach?”  (Echoing all of the “Stay out of my town” talk that clogged the event’s Facebook page that day.)  One could just as well ask, Why the hell is Epting in Huntington Beach?  Can he please go back to New York?  He has been nothing – these past three years at least – but a force of hatred and division and now racism.  I believe I will see if I can get the Council to fashion a resolution along these lines.

Sorry, these people just drive me crazy.  Let’s back up a couple days and see how this all actually started, because I know, and Chris doesn’t.


Theresa with her son Caesar shortly before he was killed.

Theresa with her son Caesar shortly before he was killed.

When my wife and I saw, on Wednesday, that our good friend Theresa Smith was planning a “vigil” at the Huntington Beach Pier in protest of the recent spate of police killings nationwide AND local, I said, “Why Huntington Beach?  I don’t think that’s a good idea.  For one thing HB hasn’t had much trouble with their police in several years, they have a pretty good chief.  Also, it’s a pretty conservative place, they’re going to encounter a lot of hostility.”  Did I nail it or what?

And the answer occurred to us both after a moment – Theresa had been impressed with how nicely the recent vigil for the Orlando victims had turned out, and thought she could duplicate that.  Also, as Theresa told me later, she HAD done another, smaller event on the Pier once, and that went well – I did not know that.  

Theresa’s son Caesar Cruz had been killed, shot by five Anaheim cops in a Walmart parking lot back in 2009 as he got out of his car – supposedly they thought he was armed.  She was later awarded $175,000.  Over these six years she’s become sort of the mother of OC police-reform activists.  Some find her forgiving to a fault;  she loves to hug people, especially cops.  And when she puts on an event, she calls it a LEAN event – her own personal “Law Enforcement Accountability Network.”  (A lot of HB spent their Friday frantically googling this “shadowy group.”)

Theresa comforts another bereaved mother.

Theresa comforts a bereaved sister.

With all the back-to-back shootings across the country last week, and all the protests and vigils planned across the nation, she wanted to do a peaceful LEAN vigil at the HB Pier, which she began planning Wednesday with a handful of friends.  She invited a couple of ministers to speak;  folks would “chalk” the names of police victims on the sidewalk, sing songs, hold hands, pray … and eventually dump a quantity of “red sand” (actually sand soaked in red koolaid) into the ocean, symbolizing the blood of police victims, as she named off dozens of them which she ended up doing by memory – they didn’t find time to create a list!

Of course, that was Wednesday.  Nobody knew what was about to happen Thursday, except for Micah Xavier Johnson.  (In lower left corner below, now with dreadlocks.)

dallas shooting

Many thought Theresa should have called off her vigil, as it would be taken as some kind of affront.  But no, the urgency of the original message hadn’t disappeared at all.  She decided to just be sure and include the five slain police officers in their prayers.  And meanwhile some people changed the signs they were planning to bring.  My good friend, the brilliant Fullerton activist-artist Bax Baxter, created this at the last minute *(photo by the Weekly’s Josue) :

bax hb sign

And as for me – I was planning to instead attend a much-rowdier rally in front of the Anaheim Police Station, but I changed my original sign:

again sign

to this:

stop the killings

So anyway, the HB rally itself, once the Eptings stormed off, went beautifully, just as described in Denise’s Weekly article.  But here’s something nobody knows, that I almost forgot to put in the story (UPDATE MONDAY EVENING):  Friday night, after her big event, Theresa Smith went directly to the hospital bedside of Fermin Vincent Valenzuela, the homeless man who was tasered into a coma recently by Anaheim police.  She stayed there till the wee hours, with his family.  Tragically he finally passed away Sunday.

fermin coma

My next HB piece will attempt to make the case that, despite all of the above, despite the incident of the brick thrown into a black HB family’s window that happened right after, and despite all of Epting’s demagoguery, the “haters” in Huntington Beach are a noisy but small minority.  But you GOOD people aren’t worth much if you don’t speak up more!  Later…


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.