By Jose Servin
About 17 Santa Ana police cars served as a backdrop for the first Orange County Anarchist Bookfair in Downtown Santa Ana on May 16.
The police presence was in response to an inflammatory banner put up anonymously that read “the only good cop is a dead cop from Santa Ana to Ayotzinapa, Ferguson to Anaheim.”
While the organizers of the book fair had no connection to the banner, it was hung next to a table set up near French Park by Cop Watch Santa Ana, an activist group that also participated in an open-forum discussion at the event.
Members of Cop Watch and attendees of the book fair confronted the officers, asking why they were there.
“It’s a public place, we can be here,” an officer said.
In what appeared to be a negotiation with Cop Watch, officers agreed to leave if the banner was taken off the tree and placed on a stick or carried by someone.
Santa Ana sign regulation Sec. 41-860 states that no sign is permitted if it “is attached or maintained upon any public utility pole or structure, or tree.”
Police cars lined Third Street from Flower to Ross and blocked off traffic for about half an hour, until 6 p.m. when the book fair ended. Cop Watch took down their table along with the banner.
Cop Watch Santa Ana is an organization focused on direct action, guerrilla tactics and indigenous strategies for self-determination and self-defense, according to their Facebook page. They are known for rallying blocks ahead of random sobriety checkpoints set up by the Santa Ana Police Department and warning drivers to turn around.
The book fair, hosted by El Centro Cultural de Mexico, featured three keynote speakers, an open forum discussion regarding the autonomy of El Centro, educational workshops, a room dedicated to distributors of anarchist literature and food provided by El Centro.
Andrea Smith was one of the keynote speakers. She is a graduate of Harvard University and co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, a U.S group organized to end violence against women of color.
“Instead of thinking of the U.S at war, we need to think of the U.S. as war,” said Smith, in a quote that summarized the atmosphere of the book fair.