UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz continues to struggle with his duties as Mayor Pro Tem of Huntington Beach, CA.
In a city council meeting last week Ortiz was put on the spot regarding his refusal to wear a mask. His reaction lead to city council opting to remain digital, for fear that Ortiz would create a scene that required law enforcement if they tried to go back to in-person meetings.
At this week’s meeting a couple of public comments blasted Ortiz for his support of far-right personalities, ideologies and conspiracies. The comments came from individuals who were concerned about a White Lives Matter event that is planned to take place in the city on April 11.
Video from the meeting, in which Ortiz was asked about the rally, comes via @FullContactMTWF.
Multiple callers questioned what Ortiz’s plan of action was for the rally, citing what he claimed he did when a Black Lives Matter protest happened in the city last year.
Regarding that protest, Ortiz wrote the following on Facebook:
“I got the message that BLM didn’t do their job the first protest. The next week they wanted the burn our city down and rape our wife’s. I took that very personal do to me living here for 45 years. I called 4 of my special force friends and about 30 other friends HB citizens to help me make sure downtown was not burnt to the ground. ... We protected Huntington Surf and sport. I stood on my feet for 9 hrs with no bathroom break to protect downtown.”
Via Pilar Cortes on Facebook pic.twitter.com/eSrnYkRzMY— Borrachinha Depot (@FullContactMTWF) September 11, 2020
“I’m just very worried when you see things like Tito Ortiz on record saying things like Black Lives Matter were coming here to rape and murder our women,” said one caller at yesterday’s city council meeting. “And then he’s silent about a KKK rally?”
That caller then suggested that Ortiz speak to organizers of that rally and ask them not to come to the city.
“You have your time to shine; talk to your people and tell them not to come to our city. You are empowering these people and it’s fucking disgusting. So, in short, I would love for city council to have any kind of official statement letting the KKK know they are not welcome here and I would like to know what the police department plans to do because the police department, for Black Lives Matter, declared an unlawful assembly before people even reached the pier.”
Another resident then called in with a less serious question for Ortiz regarding the upcoming rally.
“Tito, thank you for doing all you do to protect our city. And I was just wondering, you know, with this White Lives Matter rally coming up are you also going to be standing out there for nine hours without a bathroom break?”
A third caller also had questions for the council regarding the KKK’s plans to rally in the city. This caller recalled what they experienced while attending the Black Lives Matter protest. They also touched on the past activities of the Klan in Huntington Beach.
“They decide to have a White Lives Matter rally and I haven’t seen any kind of notoriety about what y’all are going to do about this. Because, I know what happened when we went there, just to say that our lives did matter; after we were already being slain in the street,” said the caller. “My friends got locked up. I’m facing charges right now. Don’t care. Fuck the DA. Because, guess what? My mission is my mission. I’m here to say that that shit should not be tolerated in these cities and in these streets.”
This caller did not hold back. pic.twitter.com/Nd88xbx0sX— Borrachinha Depot (@FullContactMTWF) April 6, 2021
“Some of you may not even remember what happened in 1929,” continued the caller. “The Pacific Beach Club, the predominantly black premier nationwide beach club that was supposed to be on Huntington Beach. It got burned down by the KKK. And here we are again looking them in the face. When are you going to do something? Take a stance. I use the colorful language that I use not because I’m ignorant, but because it’s so interesting that when I say it in the clearest terms nobody seems to get it. The hate is still here. No matter how many times you reinforce a statement, it’s still here. See, we need to do some tangible action. Get some charges. Make it an actual hate crime. Because I’ve got plenty of friends who have been assaulted by the same people Tito has been high fiving. ... We see you and we hear you loud and clear and it’s coming from your mouths. So either do something about it or step down.”
The construction of Pacific Beach Club began in 1925. The proposed club was designed for Black people who were barred from most of California’s beaches under segregation laws. The club was designed to have a bathhouse that could serve 2,000 people, a clubhouse, a recreational hall and an amusement zone. It was scheduled to open on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, 1926.
However, the construction site was burned down before that could happen. No one was officially charged over the fire.
History Professor Daniel Cady, who has researched the Pacific Beach Club, believes the Klu Klax Klan torched the club (per The OC Registrar).
Through his research Cady has discovered that the KKK was especially active in Huntington Beach in the 1920s. It is thought many Klan members moved to Huntington Beach and Orange County from southern states after the discovery of oil around that time.
According to historian James W. Loewen much of Orange County’s settlements, including Huntington Beach, were considered ‘sundown towns’ in the 1950s. Loewen writes that sundown towns were known to be hostile to Black people (as well as Jews and members of other minority groups). In sundown towns, it was understood that members of those groups had to leave the town by sundown or face violent repercussions.
The Guardian states that Orange County was a well known recruitment hub for Neo-Nazi groups in the 1980s and 1990s.
Orange County remains a hotbed of extremism. The Guardian reports that in recent years several high schools in the county have been engulfed in controversy over the actions of white students. Among the incidents profiled by that outlet is the 2019 case of students from Garden Grove giving Seig Heil salutes and marching with German and Confederate flags. In 2018 Samuel Woodward, a member of the white supremacist group Atomwaffen, was charged with a hate crime by the Orange County DA for murdering 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, who was Jewish and gay.
In 2017 the white supremacist group known as Rise Above Movement (RAM) established itself in Orange County. That same year members from the group were charged with offences connected to the deadly Unite the Right rally that occurred in Charlottesville. Many other RAM members have since been arrested and charged with violent crimes and violating the US Anti-Riot Act.
The Los Angeles Times reports that right-wing extremism has risen in popularity in Orange County since the election of former U.S. President Donald Trump.