20 years ago today, the Orange County Sheriff's Department arrested over 150 striking drywallers at a construction site in Mission Viejo, in a case that drew national attention. The incident was the largest OC mass arrest since the legendary, forgotten 1936 Citrus War involving the county's orange pickers. Like their compatriots 55 years earlier, the drywallers were striking for a union and better wages against the county's lords–then farmers, now developers. Like the past, the elite responded by getting all law enforcement to brutally crack down on the striking Mexicans. The Orange County District Attorney's office charged them all with kidnapping–a felony if ever there was–but eventually dropped those charges; of the 150-plus arrested, only 10 were eventually charged with misdemeanors, which drew probation.
Huge, huge, story in the annals of OC. And did anyone in Orange County take notice today about the 20th anniversary of the drywallers' strike? Is the Democratic Party of Orange County a paragon of virtue?
It's telling that the only papers to even bother with commemorating the historic day is this infernal rag and the Socialist Worker, which published a longer recap on its website last week (the 1992 drywallers strike–which affected all of Southern California–started in June of that year, but the July 2 Mission Viejo mass arrest was the most heated moment). But that's not surprising, either: not only are the dailies so bereft of institutional memory nowadays, any sort of immigrant agitation over the years in Orange County is always scrubbed clean from the official historical record.
We could write more–much more–about the drywallers' strike, but got other things to do–and so the Sunkist memories move along…