In one night, Downtown Santa Ana regained a reputation it took years to shed. Kim Pham’s fatal beating outside a nightclub Jan. 18 has left the once-bustling hipster hotspot looking desolate, populated mostly by cops and private security guards.
Once a 12-block district lined with prostitutes, beer halls and corner pushers, it was reinvented as a thriving arts and nightlife scene where clubs, bars and restaurants attract a party crowd.
City officials rushed to assure residents and out-of-towners that downtown is safe. In response, they’ve hired extra private security guards now posted on corners of major blocks and deployed more police to patrol the area’s alleys.
But this is a temporary solution to a permanent problem.
When alcohol is involved, fights will happen. Brawls leading to deaths hardly ever occur, said Mike Lore, a downtown bouncer for seven years who hasn’t witnessed one himself.
The city has been shaking off a history of gang-related crime and violence, tallying up more than 53 homicides in 1989. That dropped to 13 by 2011, according to FBI records.
While details are murky, Pham’s death seems more like the unfortunate result of a drunken out-of-hand argument than premeditated murder.
Even one punch can turn into a brawl. Before letting emotions get the best of you, slow down and think about whether a fight is worth someone’s life.