Profiles In OC Pioneers Who Were Klan Members: Sam Jernigan and Jesse Elliott, Orange County Sheriffs
Orange County has never exactly excelled in electing the best sheriffs. There was Theo Lacy, who most likely participated in the lynching of Francisco Torres, and James Musick, who paraded around Mexicans during court hearings strapped with a Tommy gun while a sheriff's deputy during the NFL off-season. Logan Jackson infamously uttered, "Shoot to kill" during the 1936 Citrus War, while Brad Gates was a corrupt mofo. And the less that can be said about Mike Carona, the better.
And then there were the sheriffs who were Klan members: Sam Jernigan and Jesse Elliott.
In 1922, both of them worked with the Santa Ana Police Department--Jernigan as the head, and Elliott as an officer. Jernigan left that position a year later to become Orange County sheriff, a position he held until 1931.
His reign spanned most of Prohibition, and if there was one thing the Klan hated more than minorities, it was hooch, and the Orange County sheriff annals are filled with tales of Jernigan raiding bootleggers. These annals, however, conveniently ignore the 1927 Orange County grand-jury report that deemed Jernigan "negligent, inefficient, unbusinesslike and incompetent" after a couple of his deputies severely beat a prisoner (the more things change . . .) or that Jernigan belonged to the Klan. Here's the proof, courtesy of Robert Johnson, co-author of A Different Shade of Orange: Voices of Orange County, California, Black Pioneers, author of a coming book on the history of African-Americans in Orange County, and a gabacho who hates the Klan:
Jernigan's Klan membership card
To those of you who say the Orange County version of the Klan were merely good ol' boys who wished no ill will on minorities, note the part where Jernigan, Elliott and all Klan members vow to uphold the "maintenance of White Supremacy."
Now, Elliott's card:
Elliott's Klan membership card--sure, it doesn't top the "Little Sheriff" card, but it's up there...
Los Angeles Angels vs. Cincinnati Reds
TicketsMon., Aug. 29, 7:05pm
Premium Seating: Los Angeles Angels v TEXAS RANGERS
TicketsFri., Sep. 9, 7:05pm
Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers
TicketsFri., Sep. 9, 7:05pm
Premium Seating: Los Angeles Angels v SEATTLE MARINERS
TicketsMon., Sep. 12, 7:05pm
Elliott was nowhere near as incompetent as Jernigan, but his claim to racialist fame was rounding up Japanese-Americans during World War II and--unlike the Santa Ana Register--not uttering a peep about internment's evils. There was also a 1945 case in which a Japanese-American woman in Orange County reported that her family had been terrorized by goons, but Elliott told the press he knew nothing about such threats.
Another reason to like (or at least tolerate) current Sheriff Sandra Hutchens: from Jernigan through Carona, Orange County suffered through 80 years of racist, degenerate pendejos.
Tune in every Monday at 5 p.m. for the latest entry exposing Orange County city fathers who were Klan members!
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts