Santa Ana police spokesman Jose Gonzales says a multi-police agency force of about 185 officers, some just on standby, were on duty to keep the peace as an expected 6,000 people were to march for immigrant rights downtown.
But when the event actually went down, there were nearly as many cops and media as there were protesters, making the whole thing seem overblown and underwhelming.
Where were the marchers? Only about 500 actually showed up. The Weekly was there getting video, which we should have up tomorrow (due to technical glitches) catching the entire event—uneventful as it was.
It seemed that not even the anti-immigrant protesters, usually very predictable and outspoken, cared enough to show up (at least we didn't see them). Only one lone Minuteman was on hand, the ever watchful (if slow-moving) Border Raven, Gerry Nance, spewing stuff about how if the immigrants were to stumble on dead bodies during their crossing the border, might they turn back? I was only half paying attention, mostly occupied with wondering where everyone was.
It seems that since just a few years ago, when tens of thousands and thousands of people flooded the streets causing traffic backup for miles and miles, there just isn't a lot of enthusiasm anymore. I mean, the weather was perfect, what gives?
Taina Reyes, an Orange County activist, chalked it up to the fear created by incessant raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, but it's hard to buy that argument. I doubt ICE would want the kind of publicity that would come from rounding up innocent people who were out exercising their First Amendment rights.
But, on a positive note, it was peaceful and pleasant. The police presence was very courteous and professional (hey, the cameras were rolling), and felt more like an escort than anything. So for anyone hoping for bedlam, conflict and intrigue, from what I saw, there was nothing there. Maybe next year.