Orange PD Harass Son of Legendary Chicano Artist Emigdio Vasquez While He Restored His Father's Mural

higgy_vasquez.jpg
Photo by Aimee Murillo
Higgy Vasquez, at his dad's mural
Just when we thought we would never have to report again about legendary Chicano artist Emigdio Vasquez's public art getting tarred and feathered, here come those culture Cossacks known as the Orange Police Department--again.

Last week, visual artist Emigdio "Higgy" Vasquez was restoring one of his father's murals on Cypress Street at the request of Chapman University. The mural--on an apartment owned by Chapman that Emigdio originally painted in 1979--is titled "Tribute to the Chicano Working Class" and consists of a grand portrait of figures from Mexican history juxtaposed in chronological order to end with contemporary working-class families (some of the latter group modeled after people Emigdio knew in real life). After thirty-plus years, the mural had started to show some serious wear, so Chapman approached Higgy in October to restore it, as Emigdio is in poor health.

The restoration process had been mostly uneventful, with community members and even police officers complimenting the mural's progress from behind a makeshift fence that Higgy had erected. But that changed last Friday, when an Orange PD officer walked past the fence without permission and not bothering to identify himself. When Higgy asked "Can I help you?", the chota merely brushed him off and responded with something to the effect of "Relax, I'm friendly."

higgy_vasquez_mural.jpg
Aimee Murillo
Close-up of the graffiti portion in question, barely visible in the grand scheme of the whole mural

"This fence around the property very clearly implies that it is off limits to just anyone," Higgy told the Weekly. "I blocked the entrance off with trash cans, and he pointedly moved them out of his way to get in. Police officers don't just walk right in through your front door without permission first."

The officer looked over the mural and told Vasquez he thought the mural was good "except for one thing."

"I thought he was going to mention the portion of the mural where the face of Che Guevara was, since I know a lot of people don't like what he stood for," Higgy says. "But he just started telling me that there was a problem with this graffiti," referring to a tiny portion of the mural where a couple of youth are depicted in front of a white fence with graffiti on it that reads "OVC," the acronym for the Orange Varrio Cypress gang that has claimed Cypress Street for generations.

And then the Orange cop left.

A shaken Higgy forgot to ask for the officer's name or badge number, shocked as he was by the cop's brazen behavior. He works mostly with digital mediums such as graphic design and video, and Higgy admits he was initially unsure whether he was up to the task of restoring the mural. But having watched his father paint the mural as a child and being an experienced painter himself, Higgy accepted the project--and the Orange cop's little intimidation game has toughened his resolve.

"This is not going to happen again," he said. "For one thing, I'm going to make sure the entrance to this area is more securely closed off. Secondly, I know now not to have gotten in conversation with that police officer, and to have asked for his name."

The Orange PD could not be reached for comment. But this isn't the first time the Vasquez family has had to deal with Orange officers harassing them over the Cypress Street mural.

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92 comments
JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

I'm feeling a Danny Trejo movie. In "Brush With The Law", Trejo play a humble mural painter who is kind to the children, likes butterflies, and helps a caliente senora find her fuzzy kitten. But evil lurks in his idyllic setting. Local cops are in the employ of the big honcho businessman who wants the mural taken down, Trejo out of town, and caliente senora. All of it. He needs to knock down the building to run his toxic PCB waste pipe through so he can generate enough profits to keep paying off his senator. And if the children get cancer, who cares? Only the villagers love the mural and the humble painter and caliente senora likes to have her kitten stroked. Thug cops are sent to intimidate Trejo, but they don't know that he survived federal prison by fighting white supremacists, and that he has 48 throwing knifes under his smock. And a machete. And pistolas under his easel. A pair of shotguns. An MP-5 in his guitar case. And grenades. Is the police force big enough to take down The Painter?

elenoreflores
elenoreflores

I think they are jealous because no one has offered to do a painting on their wall.  Maybe an artist could do a big mural on the outside wall of the police department depicting a typical working day.  A picture showing 5 police cars and maybe 7 cops pulling one car over on a routine traffic stop, show the 110 pound driver siting on the curb with no shirt no shoes and pair of shorts handcuffed (because of his obvious threat).  In another scene they could show them parked at night in various hiding spots while they take their little snoozes (Handy Park, Collins and Tustin grocery store parking lot, and others) then a final scene showing a bunch of cops shooting at a little truck with unarmed woman sitting in it on one street while a truck just like it on the next street over speeds away towards the border city.  Maybe this would make them feel more a part of city's pride and heritage. 

mehicoisnobueno
mehicoisnobueno

hey that wet.back on the mural looks like my gardener.. I think I will go outside and yell at him some more... its nice to look down on Mexicans...

elenoreflores
elenoreflores

"Relax, I'm friendly." claim by an Orange Cop is laughable.  Watch out for a trick.

chezvern
chezvern

Connection with yesterday's OTHER story - that "Lil Clumsy" who shot the police dog yesterday in Anaheim, and got shot and killed himself, ran with the "Criminals" - the same gang that killed Sergio Vasquez, brother of the lead plaintiff in Vasquez v. Rackauckas (no relation to Higgy or Emigdio) - and whose first brush with the law was for sitting in front of this very mural we're discussing (in a famous Weekly photograph from 5 years ago.)  

"Criminals" - apparently doing the OPD's dirty work, against the one neighborhood with the stones to fight back against Rackauckas.  "Just as every cop is a criminal..."

PaulyWalnuts
PaulyWalnuts

Ha! Police said" relax,i am friendly and that he did not like the graffiti".How is this even a story? Harassment? Story is weak!


chezvern
chezvern

Let me add:  You're a fine writer Aimee, I just don't think this was newsworthy.  But let me add something to your story go that MIGHT be interesting for readers to know:.  

Chapman does own the building the mural is on, and they are paying to have it restored, but NOT NECESSARILY out of the goodness of their hearts.  Maybe they would have, maybe not.  But they've been buying up all the properties in that neighborhood that they can get their hands on, and when the family who owned that building (right between the old Quaker Peace Center and Manuel Vasquez' apartment) agreed to sell it to them, they MADE IT A CONDITION that Chapman keep and restore the mural.  So Chapman is doing what they legally have to do there.

Jeff Rey
Jeff Rey

The police never harassed the son.period.

Rsmith714
Rsmith714

City of Orange should paint over the graffiti and clean up that mess. A mural will only lead to other gang members tagging. Next thing you know is you have another Santa Ana.

artpedroza
artpedroza

Police should love the gangs.  The threat of the gangs keeps cops employed and keeps their massive pensions and benefits coming.


Orange Mayor Tita Smith needs to step up and protect this artist from her cops.

Barry McPhee
Barry McPhee

Thats a heavy case of harassment!!! WOW!

Monica Lopez
Monica Lopez

Okay, where is it? I need to see it now!

tarbash
tarbash

If the mural causes anguish and suffering it must come down immediately. 

OCCOPWATCH.COM
OCCOPWATCH.COM

This why you don't speak with police. They can legally lie to you. You DO NOT have to answer their questions! Just Film Them! 

Only questions we ask: Am I being Detained? (if yes, shut your mouth and do whatever they say) 

They are trained to find reasons to arrest you, when you open your mouth and respond to their questions you make their job easier. We shut our mouths and force them to do their job. Which is investigate... good luck investigating with a silent person.

Always film the police!

Nohollow
Nohollow

If he is whining about that he must be related to Gustavo. The cop must be a racist

Nohollow
Nohollow

WaaaaaaWaaaaaWaaaaaaaWaaaaaaWaaaaaaaWaaaaaaWaaaaaa. Whiny bitch

RachelKnott
RachelKnott

Ok, I'll be the first to call out jackbooted thuggery when I read it, but maybe I'm missing something. I even went back to re-read it. The cop had an issue with the OVC sign on the mural. Couldn't Higgy have said to the cop "That was part of the original artwork and CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY is having me restore it as it was originally in 1979. Perhaps you could contact CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY and express your concerns to them." I mean why be such a Milquetoast about it. No doubt the cop was trying to intimidate but for God's sake stand up.

Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

Dear Mr. Vasquez, 

I'm an attorney specializing in police harassment claims. I recommend seeking compensation of $6.9M for damages, emotional distress, racism, bullying, and general naughtiness. This is truly a winnable case. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

If this is the best example of Police harrassment the author can come up with she has a way to go.  What it more closely resembles is someone with a fixed Police bias and a chip on her shoulder.  

Christopher Catalano
Christopher Catalano

Have YOU ever wanted to be a part of something BIGGER than yourself ... Have you ever wanted to help make the WORLD a better place... if you have please add me and then SEND ME A MESSAGE about your interest because we are in the process of building a growing movement called The Fame Project P.2 ... In this movement we will go in as a team and comment together on different issues that you think are important.We feel we can accomplish anything we want if we work together... For instance if you feel a government official is doing the wrong thing we will all goin and let him or her know how you feel and what you want to see happen, and remember no issues is too small; if you have a problem with your boss mistreating you we will all come together and tell him how we think he should treat you... Even if people are harrassing your favorite celebrity just let us know and we will go in and defend him or her against the "haters"... If you wrote a book or recorded a song that should be produced and nobody will hear your pitch than we will be your voice...This is something that will become a very powerful movement so get in now and join us so that you can be the first to move up the latter in this AMAZING organization... Many voices is the voice that gets heard~C.C This organization cost nothing to join and it's power comes from the PEOPLE...

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

Ask a Mexican:  "Why are latinos such over-sensitive whiners?

roman_archer
roman_archer

@mehicoisnobeuno Thanks for the daily dose of stupidity and hatred! It's nice to look down on ignorant people!

chezvern
chezvern

Let me add "first and only brush with the law."  Sergio.  Sitting in front of Emigdio's mural.

Trgoodman
Trgoodman

Un lawfully entering private property only to bagger the artist with his Penut galleria skills on your taxpayers money's time..... Yea right nothing here.

Trgoodman
Trgoodman

Never cease to amaze the ignorance. This is a painting of people and sceanery not graffiti style mural.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

This is precisely the conclusion that one would draw when one notices law enforcement in this County using gang banger types to commit crimes for them.

By the way, do gang unit cops who arrest these people know that their arrestees are being turned around this way?

Does Tony Rackauckas know this is occuring in his County?

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

@artpedroza  



thats like saying the good families in the Latino community should also love the gangs for the family atmosphere they create when real moms and dads are not around


stop the nonsense


cops would still be employed w/o gangs 

roman_archer
roman_archer

@tarbash personally, I think it's a beautiful piece of artwork that should be treasured and protected for future generations to enjoy. Don't like it? Don't look at it!

tarbash
tarbash

@RachelKnott  Then there would be no story of abuse. Hopefully one of their own grafittis it up nice and proper. $5 / gallon of oops paint from Home Depot down the road should do the trick... then gripe becomes moot.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Mike Carona thought he was untouchable as well. So did Bernie Kerick - the idiot who almost became the first Director of the Department of Homeland Security. That agency Loretta Sanchez overseas (lol * 1000)

roman_archer
roman_archer

@itpar @GustavoArellano I am constantly at odds with itpar on a variety of subjects, but this time I find his comments to be spot on. Let's start with the very misleading title to this story: "Orange PD harass son of legendary Chicano artist" would lead one to believe that the entire department was coming down on this guy, when in fact it is one officer doing nothing more than commenting on an artists artwork. As a musician/artist I can tell you that I live for any kind of recognition or commentary on what I create. So what if the officer walked past the trash cans to comment to the artist. The analogy of "cops just can't walk in my front door" is weak at best. If the artist feels so offended by the officers actions might I suggest in the future the artist should not be working in a public place. This is an absolute non-story that just left me scratching my head. And that is coming from one of the biggest supporters/defenders of the OC Weekly.

roman_archer
roman_archer

@itpar I constantly disagree with itpar on a variety of matters, but his comments here are spot on. I read this story and it left me scratching my head. The title of the story is terribly misleading. The Orange PD harasses artist makes it sound as if the whole department was coming down on this guy, when in fact it's just one officer commenting on an artists work. As an artist/musician, I welcome and encourage feedback and comments on my work from ANYONE. For the life of me I can't figure out why this is even a story.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Don't you worry pal, there is an almost countless number of anecdotes yet to be told. Four generations of Orange County, CA law enforcement leadership worth. From Stan Knee to Raul Quezada.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@ltpar ...coming from a former cop who thinks cops can do know wrong, and anyone who thinks otherwise is loathsome. Spare us your analysis, pendejo!

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@JGlanton Ask Glanton: Why do you like to philosophically drop trou for cops?

roman_archer
roman_archer

@sweetliberty17761776 I know we constantly disagree on several issues, but that was a great comment. Kudos!

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

When you are a Latino man living in Orange County, CA and you witness a bunch of mostly high school graduates wearing police badges trying to you treat you like a Latino gang banger while you are working on police engineering projects in Colombia - then you'll understand why we don't need this morons opinion about the mural - much less the arrogant comment about how he is harmless and don't worry.

fishwithoutbicycle
fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

@roman_archer  

For me, personally, my gripe with the encounter stems from the cop's approach. "Relax, I'm friendly" really stuck in my craw. I've been spoken to this way by men because they (wrongly) assumed I would be "spooked" like a shy animal by a strange man approaching me...a little presumptuous and condescending in my opinion...

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@18usc241  Whine, whine whine.....you never stop.

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

LOL, I don't even think about the po-po's and they hardly bear any weight to your sad story about a sad man who didn't have the wherewithal to explain the meaning of his mural to a man who didn't understand it. While he is at it, it's perfectly fine to smile at the cop and say "Hey man, don't you see the fence? I am painting the mural for the college and I have to keep people from the wet paint". Much better than crying to the press because you can't express yourself to people. Also while he is at it, I suppose he could educate the cop about why Mexicans revere as saints psychopathically abusive Marxist power freaks like Che' and Cesar Chavez, and "relax I'm friendly" protective policemen as devils.


Ask a Mexican: "Why do Mexicans see the hairy hidden hand of the police under every rock"?

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Thanks. Likewise.

roman_archer
roman_archer

@18usc241 I always respect your opinion. : )

roman_archer
roman_archer

@fishwithoutbicycle I just don't find the words "relax, I'm friendly" to be condensending in this case. Now in the context of a man saying it to a lady he doesn't know, that could be down right creepy. I just see it in this case as a way of saying hey, I'm not here to harrass you, I just want to check out your artwork. On a side note: if you had told me that I would be out on these blogs today agreeing with sweetliberty17761776 and itpar, while disagreeing with fishwithoutbicycle and Gustavo, I'd have said you were nuts. Irregardless, you're still my favorite blogger and Gus is still my favorite smart-assed editor. : )

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Neither do your cops - tick for tack!

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Question from Latino man: can you design surveillance systems good enough for use in Bogota, Colombia? Do you know who you are talking to racist moron?

tarbash
tarbash

@18usc241 OC needs more cops taking care of your communities problems. So much for the doing jobs we won't do huh? 

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

because your saintly police commit murder and / or aid and abet it while hiding behind the color of authority. Any reasonable non sociopathic human being would take issue with that - not to mention the hypocrisy of using Latino gang member types to criminally harass an American.

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