Slingshot: Fullerton to Scrub Klansman's Name Off Building--Unlike Brea!
The nationwide protests against police brutality after the death of George Floyd have turned into a wider anti-racist revolt. Christopher Columbus statues are discovering the laws of gravity while Confederate tributes come tumbling down.
In Orange County, a historic auditorium in Fullerton is set to have the name of Louis E. Plummer scrubbed in less dramatic form; Plummer joined the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s, a fact popularized by the work of former OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano years ago.
Earlier this month, Jackie Logwood, a Fullerton native and current UC Riverside student, started an online petition calling on the Fullerton Joint Union High School District to take action.
"As a proud member of the Fullerton community, I stress that it is time that we stop honoring Fullerton's racist past," she wrote. "We need to rename the Plummer Auditorium."
The petition collected an impressive 26,000 signatures, enough to persuade the Fullerton Joint Union High School District to put the name change on the agenda of its meeting this Tuesday.
But it delved precious little into the established history.
Plummer arrived in Fullerton and quickly became an educational pioneer. He served as principal of Fullerton High School, a district superintendent and a founding father of Fullerton College, the first junior college in OC and the oldest in the state.
He also belonged to the Invisible Empire.
His name doesn't appear on the alphabetized Ku Klux Klan membership lists housed at the Anaheim Heritage Museum; a page with much of the last names starting with "P" is inexplicably missing from the second list. And his Klan membership remains unmentioned in a Fullerton College centennial hagiography.
But Plummer does appear in Christopher Cocoltchos' "The Invisible Government and the Viable Community: The Ku Klux Klan in Orange County, California During the 1920's." The doctoral dissertation based its research on the original Ku Klux Klan membership list donated to the Library of Congress by former Anaheim resident and anti-Klan activist Ernest Ganahl (Yes, of Ganahl Lumber fame even if the family business laughably denies it now as they did to me a year ago).
The document mysteriously disappeared from the Klan collection in 1982, but not before Cocoltchos was able to research and describe Plummer as a leader in the Hooded Order that formed in 1922. He joined in 1923 while serving as superintendent.
Former Fullerton city attorney Albert Launer recalled Plummer's decision to become a Klan member "as a man dedicated to the idea that youth should not be confronted with the bad habits of the day."
In all, Fullerton sent seven Klansmen to city council over the years, three more than Klanaheim's council takeover could ever boast. Launer broke down the city's Klan members into three groups: church members, educators and oil workers. The educators held activities where Plummer Auditorium now stands since it was built in 1930.
Once trustees dispense of Plummer, less visible Klan honors will remain in Fullerton. Starbuck Street is named for Klukker William Starbuck. Byerrum Park? Early parks superintendent Harry Byerrum signed the Klan's white supremacist membership pledge. Lastly, a stroll down South Royer Avenue honors Fullerton oil baron and Klansman Joe Royer.
Still, compare Fullerton Joint Union High School District's swift action to Brea, a historical epicenter of anti-Blackness in OC where a long fight to rename Fanning Elementary ended in defeat for activists last year.
The school site's namesake, William Fanning, appears on the Klan membership lists housed in Anaheim, but the documentation wasn't enough for naysayers who objected to the renaming campaign launched after the Charlottesville white supremacy riots in 2017.
Brea's burghers denied the veracity of the list and its own past as a Sundown Town, all in defense of the late education pioneer's reputation. A majority of Brea Olinda Unified School District trustees did ultimately vote to change the school's name to Fanning Academy of Science and Technology as it became a magnet school while keeping the Klansman; only trustee Keri Kropke dissented.
But denial of Brea's anti-Black past can only hold back its future for so long. Hundreds of protesters lined the streets of downtown Brea in June to protest the police brutality that claimed Floyd's life in Minneapolis.
And then, someone left a "Black Lives Matter" protest sign under Fanning Academy's marquee.
- Gabriel San Román
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Given Disneyland's reputation for escapism, few would expect its happy band of social media mavens to be all that vocal during this pivotal moment in the Black Lives Matter movement. But the guests who populate the parks have changed in recent years with more people of color taking the tram in. That's also reflected in a growing diversity among Disnerds online, some of whom took to their platforms last week to denounce the police killing of George Floyd and racism in general.
The strongest statement came from the Creepy Kingdom, a multimedia website that likes to dabble in the spooky side of Disneyland. James Carter, the documentary filmmaker behind "Foolish Mortals," is the site's African American founder and an OC local. In the days following Floyd's death, the platform halted it usual promotion of all things horror out of respect for the nation's tumultuous times.
But Carter and his crew scrapped that approach all together when he penned a pensive essay and published it on Creepy Kingdom's site where he shares his experience of having a gun pulled on him by a cop as a Black youth for being in the "wrong" neighborhood.
"First of all, Black people being murdered by law enforcement in the United States is not a political issue, it is a human rights issue," Carter wrote. "I have realized that Creepy Kingdom ignoring the injustices in the world is irresponsible. We all need an escape from real world horrors, but we have a huge platform that can also be used to inspire positive change, as well as entertain."
Creepy Kingdom is planning to continue the conversation on a regular basis going forward.
Magic Journeys is another popular social media site among Disnerds. Mig Vee, who's Mexican, and his girlfriend Lovely Jannell (who I think is Filipina) can usually be seen gallivanting around the Mouse House for episodes of "The Wonderful World of Food," their ongoing YouTube series. Slickly produced and a lot of fun to watch, the pair regularly attract tens of thousands of viewers.
On June 1, the Magic Journeys couple posted a video on Instagram of protesters laying down chanting "I can't breathe" and followed that up by participating in #BlackOutTuesday. MigVee also released a statement calling for justice in Floyd's case, but a few days ago, it disappeared for reasons unknown. Most of the comments appeared to be supportive, but the affirmation of the Black Lives Matter movement came with expected blowback, even with MigVee signaling support for good cops.
The conversations must continue--and they will be uncomfortable in this community. Anyone who's been to Disneyland recently knows how much folks love supporting their "Blue Lives Matter" apparel inside the park.
And maybe one day, Disnerds will get around to discussing the law enforcement background of the man who heads security operations at the Disneyland Resort!
Your Mouse Muckraker / Photo by Federico Medina
Remember that pesky coronavirus pandemic? The mandatory mask-wearing ordinance in Orange County may have been relaxed to "strongly recommended" as bars, gyms and other businesses open up. But the cases keep a-coming!
One dive bar in Fullerton, the Sunset Lounge, is already closed due to an employee testing positive for Covid-19. The watering hole had been open prior to this weekend on the grounds that all patrons had to order bar food in order to stay and play. The business alerted folks on Facebook that it would be closed for sanitation cleaning while revamping safety protocols through Friday--and then that public posting disappeared.
One city over, Kindred Brea Hospital has been the site of an outbreak that hasn't attracted much media attention.The coronavirus ripped through 14 of its 38 patients last month with two already passing from the disease. Hospital staffers are also reporting that they're falling ill. The National Union of Healthcare Workers says that it lost its first member to the pandemic at Kindred Brea.
In response, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice is asking the community to send letters to hospital management urging universal testing for patients and healthcare workers alike. Send me an email for more information on how to do so!