The fight against Orange County's historic Chicano murals has opened up a new front against the man who virtually invented the genre: historic muralist Emigdio Vasquez.
On Feb. 25, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas filed another of his wonderful gang injunctions, this time against the Orange Varrio Cypress (OVC) gang based out of Orange's historic Cypress Street barrio (it hasn't been publicized yet, for some bizarre reason). In the more than 500 pages of evidence included to make the charges stick against dozens of folks (including an eight-year-old boy) is a strange diatribe against the work of Vasquez by Orange officer Joel Nigro.
Apparently, the cholos have claimed the mural above as part of their turf--an unfortunate development, for sure. But Nigro quickly goes off the deep end in an expert declaration for T-Rack. "Emigdio Vasquez has also painted several other murals [sic] reference the OVC gang and the gang lifestyle, including pieces such as, 'Vatos Locos,' 'Sunday Morning in OVC,' 'Vatos Locos de Barrio,' and 'Cypress Street Pachucos.'"
Only one problem: on his personal website that shows those murals in question, Vasquez writes, "These paintings show people and events in and around a Barrio in Orange, California where Emigdio spent his childhood." That childhood was during the 1940s; the neighborhood, the Cypress barrio. But according to Nigro, OVC wasn't established until the 1970s.
And then, Nigro turns into a McCarthyite.
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"Vasquez is a muralist who grew up in the Cypress Street neighborhood and portrays rebellion against a perceived oppressive government through art," Nigro writes. He says Vasquez "sensationalizes" pachucos, and then goes on to criticize his use of Che Guevara in a mura:
"Ernesto 'Che' Guevara was a politician, Marxist, revolutionary, and guerilla leader. Guevara's radical ideoogy earned him a place in history and after his death, his image became a ubiquitous symbol of rebellion worldwide."
See what Nigro's trying to do? Emigdio Vasquez is a revolutionary whose trying to incite gang violence! That "perceived oppressive government" Vasquez captures in his murals, Officer Nigro, are images of the Chicano movement during the 1960s--you know, those fights against school segregetation, farmworker exploitation, and police brutality.
How much you wanna bet that the Orange police will try to whitewash this piece of O.C. Chicano history? Needless to say, many people are outraged at the attempt to slur Vasquez's work and at the injunction--sources say more than 100 people showed up to a meeting at the American Legion yesterday. Will talk to them soon...