25-year-old Michael "Dossicc" Ramirez of Orange County hip-hop group Rebellion Warfare went missing June 22 at approximately 5p.m. in the Keyesville campground, Lake Isabella CA. He was on a surprise birthday camping trip with his wife, best friend and his best friends wife for his June 19th birthday. His wife Erica...
"He tried to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge at 14." Dr. Vincent Valenzuela is reading a hospital report regarding a young patient he saw two years ago at Kaiser Permanente's Santa Ana medical offices. The pediatrician's eyes skim through the report in disbelief. "At his last physical, there...
Bridges at Kraemer Place, Orange County's first-ever year-round homeless shelter, has only about half of its 100 beds taken since opening on May 5. Mercy House, which runs the facility, phased around 35 people into its quarters after the first weekend in operation. The converted warehouse by the 91 freeway in...
"Are you waiting for me?" Jorge Holguín jokes in Spanish as he shows up late to a son jarocho class at El Centro Cultural de México in downtown Santa Ana. "Yes, and only you!" instructor Roxana Guajardo says with a wide smile and a laugh. But she's also serious—there's some...
Three bald white guys seated on the patio of the Gypsy Den in Santa Ana last November had one thing on their minds: reviving the long-dormant Orange County chapter of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a leftist labor union better known as the Wobblies. Sterling Abrades was dressed...
Communities around Orange County mourn their loved ones differently, but Chicanos hold a specific ritual: a car wash. Family and friends donate their time and energy to raise funds to cover the cost of a
funeral,and more. This practice is deridedcountywide as ghetto, inefficient and something only “ cholos” would dare host. But they're far more tender and moving than outsiders will ever bother to know.
The most recent such car wash happened this Sunday for Isaac Gonzalez, an aspiring 15-year-old boxer shot dead in the streets of
SanTanalast month while walking in a residential area. Adults and teens not only washed cars but also held a kermés—a street festival where vendors sold tacos, burgers, and Mexican botanas. Isaac's young friends broke a sweat washing and drying cars,while dancing to rap, corridos, funk, oldies and soul. But most of the time, no laughter could be heard from the youth—just rags hitting the roof of cars, and directions yelled at the drivers. “It’s hard to have fun," said one volunteer, "when you are reminded of why you are here."
Despite the sadness and tears, the economic potential of a community united around a cause was impressive. In the food lines, I witnessed mothers tell their children they could only afford one taco for each family member because they didn’t have much to spend. The sacrifice was in
solidarity,because they knew this tragedy could happen to any of their children, especially with murders in SanTanamaking long-time residents fear a repeat of the blood-soaked 1990s.
But the kermés car wash for Isaac offered hope: In just seven days, supporters raised $12,000 on
a’sGoFundMe page, while over 2,000 people attended the car wash. “Thank you all for being here," an old veterano, Modelo in hand, kept telling the crowd around him. "This is for Isaac. I am sorry you have fallen to the unfair gang violence in this city.”
Isaac’s goals and ambitions meant different things to everyone present. May his legacy,
spiritand power not have been in vain.