Year In Review

Pandemic, protests and politics

FIREWORKS explode behind Santa Ana police during over the death of George Lloyd in Minneapolis (Photo by Gaston Castellanos).

 

To our readers: This is the second installment of the “Year in Review 2020” feature. It will cover the months of May through August 2020. The third and concluding part will be posted on Thursday.

By April, the coronavirus pandemic began to grab the spotlight both for national and local news. But it was not the only momentous event going on. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police brought a wave of protest to the nation that also echoed loudly in Orange County cities. A summer of catastrophic wildfires ravaged the West Coast, and the campaign for the White House set up a showdown between two men in their 70s.

May: The plague changes everything

A crowd estimated at 5,000 people rallied in Huntington Beach to protest the closing of Orange County beaches. • What appeared to be an easing in the number of coronavirus cases led to some relaxation of restrictions. COVID-19 cases soon began to rise again. • The national unemployment rate hits 14.7 percent, the highest since the Great Depression of the Thirties. • Major League Baseball announced it would play a reduced season and without fans. • Violent crime is on the rise, reported Garden Grove police chief Tom DaRe. •  More outdoor dining was approved by the Huntington Beach City Council. • The Westminster City Council heard a report that unless the city’s 1-cent sales tax increase was renewed, the municipality would be broke by 2024. •  Four police officers were fired after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Video showed one officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck as the man pleaded that he could not breath. The incident led to protests and violence across the nation and made the slogan “Black Lives Matter” world-known. One officer was later charged with murder. • Local protests included some violent encounters in Santa Ana and more peaceful events in Orange, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Westminster and Cypress.

June: A month of protests

An unprecedented protest over police violence brought several thousand people to downtown Garden Grove. After a rally at which some advocated to “Defund The Police,” the demonstrators marched down Main Street, where many windows and doors were boarded up in anticipation of disorder, which did not occur. • The annual Huntington Beach 4th of July parade departed from its usual path down Main Street and instead consisted of smaller caravans of vehicles through the downtown area and some residential neighborhoods. • Area high schools replaced in-person high school commencement ceremonies with “virtual” events. • Protests of up to 500 people against police violence took place in Westminster and Huntington Beach. • The 2020 U.S. Open surfing championship in Huntington Beach was cancelled. • The U.S Supreme Court ruled that employers may not discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered. • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, warned that the nation was “headed in the wrong direction” in its battle against the coronavirus. • The City of Anaheim announced a mandatory mask-wearing policy.

July: A long, hot summer

Stung by revelations about a proposed new city manager, the Westminster City Council balked at the appointment of Chu Thai. • The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. tops 3 million. • A requirement for mask-wearing was defeated at the Garden Grove City Council. • The annual Huntington Beach 4th of July parade departed from its usual path down Main Street and instead consisted of smaller caravans of vehicles through the downtown area and some residential neighborhoods. • The Stanton City Council set tax rates on cannabis-related products as a preliminary to authorizing the cultivation, production and sales of such items. • Term limits for members of the Westminster City Council would go before voters in November, the council decided. • A rally to “Defend the GGPD [Garden Grove Police Department] was held at the Village Green park. About 150 attended. • A deadline of November was set by the Huntington Beach City Council for the opening of its homeless shelter.

August: Politics starts to take the stage

The Westminster City Council voted against submitting a 1.5-cent sales tax increase to voters. • Creation of a 174-bed shelter for the homeless was officially approved by the Huntington Beach City Council. • Two incumbent members of the Huntington Beach City Council – Lyn Semeta and Patrick Brenden – announced they would not run for re-election in 2020. • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were nominated as the Democratic Party’s ticket for president and vice president. • Vong Xaiver Nguyen resigned from his post on the Westminster School District Board of Trustees in the wake of felony charges against him alleging he filed fraudulent nomination papers and committed perjury. • The Stanton Planning Commission approved a 321-unit apartment complex on Beach Boulevard. • President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were nominated as the Republican ticket in the Nov. 3 election. • The State of California created a “tier” system setting the standards of how the status of counties with regard to the coronavirus could be classified.

 

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