The Usual Suspects
One of my readers, named Cook, asked me yesterday to explain who Santa Ana’s Usual Suspects are. He wondered if the term was meant to be racist.
No, it isn’t – it is however a convenient way to describe a group of folks who have been causing trouble here in Santa Ana for many years.
After the Civil War, a number of Confederate soldiers and their families came here to Orange County. Some of them went on to become the first Usual Suspects. They brought their white hoods with them.
Some years later they brought cheap Chinese labor to Santa Ana, and then when they got tired of them they burned down their Chinatown.
Usual Suspects kept kids segregated, back in the day, so that Mexicans did not go to the same schools as white kids, until the Mendez family won their famous lawsuit.
And it was the Usual Suspects who years later moved to get rid of bilingual education – only to fail to do much in its absence, leading to even more horrific dropout rates and failure.
The Usual Suspects recalled Nativo Lopez from the SAUSD School Board – and even threatened the job of a young man who was teaching at the SAUSD – and who had sided with Lopez. But they replaced Lopez with Rob Richardson, and things got worse at the SAUSD, not better.
And it turned out that the Lopez recall had nothing much to do with him, but rather was part of an attempt to keep a new neighborhood school out of north Santa Ana, in order to, of course, keep the Mexicans out.
When Floral Park residents hold Halloween early, on a different night, then turn out the lights on Halloween, they’re Usual Suspects.
When French Park residents erected traffic barriers to keep the Mexicans out, only to lose to the ACLU in court and have to tear down those barricades, they were Usual Suspects.
When certain Wilshire Square residents requested locks, designed to keep bears out of trash cans, for their own trash cans, to keep poor people from taking empty soda cans, they were Usual Suspects.
When the bouncers at the old Santa Ana Red Onion used to say there were too many Norwegians in the joint, they were really referring to Mexicans and African Americans – and they were acting just like Usual Suspects.
When so-called neighborhood leaders complained about “those people” at his Swap Meet, they were Usual Suspects.
When Charles Hart, a Republican running for Mayor of Santa Ana this year, says he hearkens for the good old days, what he really means is that he thinks life was better when there were less Mexicans around. And he is talking just like a Usual Suspect.
When Councilman David Benavides says we need Lupe Moreno and her Minutemen to hold an Independence Day event here in town because local kids don’t know what the 4th of July is, he is reading from the Usual Suspect talking points.
When Benavides appointed Usual Suspects who don’t live in his ward to various City Commissions, he was doing what they asked of him.
When Supervisor Janet Nguyen got caught this week trying to remove Latino voters from her district, she was serving the Usual Suspects.
When the Rancho Santiago Community College District took our money to fund a bond, then spent the money on a Sheriff’s Academy we didn’t need, instead of spending it at Santa Ana College, they were in the service of the Usual Suspects.
When the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce PAC declined to endorse two Latino candidates for the RSCCD Board of Trustees, in 2008, they were only doing what the Usual Suspects expected of them.
When a part-time resident of our city somehow ended up on graffiti commissions both here and in Denver, Colorado, and then passed a useless graffiti ordinance that, predictably, has done nothing he was doing the Usual Suspect’s bidding.
When self-appointed neighborhood leaders take public money so they can run their poorly-attended neighborhood meetings in public facilities, instead of in their homes, they are Usual Suspects.
When these so-called leaders call Code Enforcement hundreds of times to report their Mexican neighbors, they are Usual Suspects.
When they complain about cruisers so much that the SAPD closes streets and brings in a dragnet on Easter Sunday, they are Usual Suspects.
When they complain about businesses that have signs in Spanish or Vietnamese, they are Usual Suspects.
When they had a cow because a “Welcome to Little Saigon” sign was erected in western Santa Ana, they were Usual Suspects.
When they hounded Buffalo Wild Wings out of our city for no good reason, damning a food court in the process, they were Usual Suspects.
When they fought for years to prevent the Free Day for residents from falling on a Sunday – and when they host concerts at the Zoo that never include Latin acts, they are Usual Suspects.
When they oppose Ward Specific elections, because of fears that local residents might actually have a say in their governance, they are Usual Suspects.
When they complain because Santa Ana City Council meetings are translated into Spanish, they are Usual Suspects.
When Tan Nguyen sent a letter to Latino voters telling them not to vote, he was a Usual Suspect. And so was Rosie Avila when she became his alternate on the OC GOP Central Committee.
The Brown Brigade
When a few ridiculous Latino residents join forces with the Usual Suspects, they aren’t really Usual Suspects. They don’t get to join at the top tier. No, instead they are members of the Usual Suspects’ Brown Brigade – an attempt to obscure the fact that the Usual Suspects really don’t like most Mexicans.
Well Cook, I hope you get it now!