My Favorite Martin

Controversial cop voted off school board, but his spirit may linger

Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) trustee Harald Martin—who once called for the feds to deport schoolchildren of illegal immigrants—lost his re-election bid on Nov. 5. Before you break out the champagne and tamales, though, consider this: trustee Katherine Smith, a longtime friend and ally of Martin, has promised to keep alive the Anaheim cop's spirit of "concern for children."

Concern for children? Throughout his illustrious career as a cop, education official and anti-immigration activist, Martin has shown little or no interest in the welfare of Anaheim's school kids. But he has shown a remarkable interest in self-promotion.

He was a 14-year veteran of the Anaheim Police Department in February 1993 when he led a group of "concerned citizens" to Anaheim's La Palma Park, where they dumped 75 bags of cowshit on the grass to keep "drug dealers" from hanging out there. Anyone else with functioning olfactory senses stayed away, too.

Later that year, Martin publicly called on the city to force Anaheim's homeless residents to purchase business licenses that they'd have to wear on their shirts if they wanted to panhandle without getting busted. That proposal was rejected.

Around the same time, Martin became the first community-oriented police officer in the city's densely populated Latino neighborhood Jeffrey-Lynne (recently renamed Hermosa Village). He got along well with residents until he started demanding proof of citizenship from pedestrians. Since that's illegal, the department had to tell Martin to knock it off.

If a cop couldn't deport on demand, Martin figured he'd have to find another front for his one-man war against "illegals." He'd logged enough tenure with the department and retained enough goodwill in the community to win a seat on the AUHSD board of trustees in 1994.

But something happened the following year that would shift Martin into overdrive: fellow patrolman Tim Garcia was murdered by a Mexican who had illegally crossed the border. Garcia's slaying had a similar effect on Barbara Coe, then an Anaheim police clerk, now chairwoman of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), the group that brought you anti-immigrant billboards and such voter initiatives as Proposition 187.

Martin lobbied his department to station a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agent inside the city jail to deport illegal immigrants. The program was implemented the following year after Congressman Chris Cox (R-Newport Beach) wrote enabling legislation. After President Bill Clinton signed a bill taking the program nationwide on Dec. 9, 1997, up to 100 other cities invited INS agents into their jails. Martin continues to brag that he single-handedly created the program.

But it was his school-board stint that brought him national prominence as an angry, Austria-born white guy. He declared war on Mexico—even going so far as to compare himself to the Zapatista National Liberation Army—and called for INS agents to raid Anaheim's high schools in search of undocumented students. (To her credit, Smith voted against this proposal.) He tried unsuccessfully to get his board to bill Mexico $50 million for the cost of educating undocumented children in the city's schools. "There are about 30,000 students in the school district, and about 20 percent of those are illegal," he said in a July 1999 interview with the Weekly, shortly before acknowledging he was just guesstimating.

And that concern for children? In October 1999, Martin shared his thoughts with a Los Angeles Times reporter about a 57-year-old Anaheim teacher who'd had sex with a 13-year-old female student. The teacher pleaded guilty to 19 counts of child molestation and served 13 months in prison, while a jury awarded the victim $2.5 million. But because the student didn't report the relationship until she was 19, Martin reasoned that "there's some culpability on the victim's part."

But Martin has always been most obsessed with immigration. In a December 2001 speech before CCIR members, Martin said illegal immigrants from Mexico are "worse" than Osama bin Laden. He boasted that several U.S. senators supported his post-Sept. 11 plan to deputize every American cop as an INS agent.

"Diversity is a killer," he declared. "We're going to have an enclave of Muslims here, an enclave of radical Hispanics here, an enclave of blacks here—and everyone will be fighting for what should have been voted for. But there will no longer be votes; there will be bullets."

How does Katherine Smith, who lost her own bid to become state superintendent of public education, read Martin's failure to win re-election to the school board?

"Harald was the driving force behind all the things to change the environment and make it better," Smith reportedly said in the Nov. 7 Times. "He set the pace, and the direction is there. We will pick it up and follow it."

 
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