Easter Sunday. A kid from the Cypress neighborhood in Orange lounges just outside his apartment building where a huge, sprawling mural by influential Chicano artist Emigdio Vasquez is painted on the exterior walls. Bring in the sirens and the Orange PD. Minutes later, you have an arrest. The crime? The teen was standing in front of artwork that the Orange PD and DA's office claim promotes, glamorizes and inspires gang violence. And because the teen was recently added to a preliminary gang injunction issued against alleged gang members of the Orange Varrio Cypress (OVC) gang, standing where he was standing outside his home and in front of a critically acclaimed piece of art, is now illegal, according to the terms of the injunction. (The friend he was with is not named in the injunction).
On Monday, his mother spent the entire day in juvenile court (although the injunction is a civil lawsuit, once someone is caught violating its terms, they are sent to criminal court), fighting to get her son -- who had never been arrested in his life -- out of juvenile hall. A judge finally heard her case and agreed to let her son go, urging that he just "stay away from the mural." A tricky thing given that the mural sits right outside the kid's home, and has nothing to do with gang violence, says Emigdio Vasquez.
Neighbors in the area have erupted in protest since the injunction was served in late February. Parents, community members and defendants have vowed to fight what they say are extreme terms (such as the mural ban, for example) of this latest effort by the DA's office to clamp down on a neighborhood they say is mired in gang violence.