Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Calif. school named after bandido ignites debate

Bandit School

This undated photo provided by John Boessenecker shows Tiburcio Vasquez. Scaffolding still climbs the walls of the new school in the poorest, most violent neighborhood of Salinas. But the school under construction is already causing controversy after the Alisal Union School District decided to name it for one of the most notorious of California’s bandidos. (AP Photo/Courtesy of John Boessenecker) NO SALES; NO ARCHIVE

FRESNO — Scaffolding climbs the walls of the new elementary school in Salinas, an agricultural city celebrated as John Steinbeck’s birthplace but plagued by gang violence.

Although still under construction, the school is already embroiled in controversy because the school board decided to name it after Tiburcio Vasquez, one of the state’s most notorious Old West bandidos.

Critics say he was a 19th century outlaw who robbed and terrorized Californians before he was convicted and hanged for murder. They say naming a school after him glorifies crime.

In a city where two-thirds of residents are Latino, some Mexican-Americans say Vasquez was defending his land, culture and Spanish-speaking community from greedy white settlers who overran the state in pursuit of Manifest Destiny and gold.

Naming a school after Vasquez symbolizes opposition to discrimination and is an act of cultural pride, said Alisal Union School District Superintendent John Ramirez Jr.

“The real issue here is cultural citizenship,” Ramirez said. “And part of citizenship is when people choose to name streets after their heroes.”

The controversy has reignited the question of whose version of history should be honored and who is considered a hero in a multi-ethnic nation that often glorifies military figures.

“It’s a question of who writes history,” said Gary Alan Fine, a sociologist at Northwestern University who has written about the reputations of historical figures. “And the writers of history change over time.”

Once populated by Dust Bowl migrants, the Alisal neighborhood – also called East Salinas – is now predominantly home to Mexican farmworker families who work in the Salinas Valley, an area known as “the Salad Bowl of the World.”

Salinas’ poorest neighborhood, Alisal also is the center of gang violence in a city where officials have worked to steer youths away from gang culture. A former mayor even hired a firm to improve the city’s image.

The Alisal school district itself has struggled with low test scores, student poverty and violence creeping onto school grounds. But Ramirez said the new school, to be completed by June, was planned as a step in the right direction – a magnet school where each student would receive a computer tablet to bridge the technology gap many poor students face.

In naming the school, a committee narrowed the choices to Trini Rodriguez, a former Alisal district principal who died of cancer, and to Vasquez. In December, the school board unanimously selected Vasquez, sparking an immediate outcry.

The city’s new mayor, Joe Gunter, a former Salinas police detective, has criticized the decision, saying the district should not “be honoring people who are criminals.” And the Monterey County Deputy Sheriff Association and the Salinas Police Officer Association publicly condemned it.

Some parents also disagreed with the choice, said Rosalina Ramos, who has two children attending other schools in the district.

“Naming a school after a criminal promotes violence. And our district already has a lot of problems with bullying and other issues,” Ramos said.

In a written statement, the Monterey County Office of Education said the naming of a school is done at the discretion of the local school board.

Without condemning or endorsing the name, county Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski said, “The name of the new elementary school in the Alisal district should symbolize the fulfillment of the best hopes and dreams parents and the community have for their children.”

Symbolism is exactly what school board members were after, Alisal district officials said.

“Vasquez was a folk hero, a revolutionary who was a product of the environment that existed at the time,” Ramirez said. “He represents a … time when the people of Mexican descent were treated in an offensive way.”

Vasquez came of age in Monterey during the tumultuous conflicts between white Anglos and Californios – Mexicans who began streaming into the region a hundred years before the Gold Rush. When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War in 1848, it gave the U.S. ownership of California. Statehood followed.

With the Gold Rush on, Mexican Californios quickly were outnumbered by the masses of white settlers, said John Boessenecker, author of “Bandido: The Life and Times of Tiburcio Vasquez.” They were discriminated against, their land was taken away, and they had difficulty getting jobs. Some were lynched.

“The Californios were the economic, social and political power in the state until the Gold Rush,” Boessenecker said. “Overnight, they lost everything. They became second-class citizens in their own land.”

Vasquez was an educated man from a reputable and affluent family. But he rustled horses, committed robberies and spent five years at San Quentin prison. Still, his biographer said, he was also considered a folk hero whose crimes amounted to fighting discrimination by white settlers.

Vasquez was captured after he and his gang robbed a store near Hollister, killing three people. He was convicted of murder and hanged in San Jose in 1875, according to news stories.

Those who support naming a school after him say it’s difficult to tell whether Vasquez was treated justly, because anti-Mexican sentiment was extremely high at the time.

But even if Vasquez did kill someone, committing violent acts doesn’t necessarily discredit a person from being a hero, said Fine of Northwestern University. U.S. national heroes include military generals, war veterans and slave owners. For example, Fine said, Thomas Jefferson – one of country’s founders who became president – owned several hundred slaves.

The difference between a hero and villain, Fine said, is in the interpretation of historical context and in who has the power to decide. “The question is how communities today make the choices about whom to honor,” he said.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Delta barriers no longer needed

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
 
Supervisors voice concern on state Delta plans

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Dental clinic coming Friday, Saturday

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 4 Comments

 
Rotarians talk about running clinic to help Haitians

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District eyes new auditor

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
County honors Purple Heart recipients

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Solano recognizes 1,300-strong volunteer corps

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Highway 12 night work scheduled in Delta

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7

 
Kids fishing derby in Fairfield is part of Earth Day

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A7

 
Garamendi to host open house at Fairfield office

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A7

 
County approves Icon agreements

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B9

 
Ceremony set to break ground for Suisun City Walmart

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B9, 19 Comments | Gallery

Dutch Bros. opening with free drinks

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B9, 8 Comments

 
Golf tournament to raise funds for children

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Mustangs and More event moved back to October

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A10

 
Museum readies to host Sallie Fox Day in Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Rotary club to host clay shooting derby

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A11

 
Ghost Walk returns to Suisun City

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A11

Penalty decision looms in Winters homicide case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A11

 
NAMI talk on reducing mental health stigma

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11

 
.

US / World

In Internet TV case, justices show concern

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

GOP candidate releases education policy overview

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Obama views mudslide scene, mourns with survivors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Analysis: Putin likely to ignore West on Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Biden: Russia must ‘stop talking and start acting’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Most Sherpas decide to leave Everest for season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Grieving borrowers told to repay student loan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Jet stowaway at hospital; security issues linger

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
SKorea ferry toll hits 146 as search gets tougher

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Ukraine orders new ‘anti-terror’ operation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
In Ukraine’s east, mayor held hostage by insurgent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Acts of bravery emerge from pilloried ship crew

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
‘Piles and piles’ of bodies in S. Sudan slaughter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

FedEx sued over deadly California bus crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
IRS awards bonuses to 1,100 who owe back taxes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15, 4 Comments

.

Opinion

 
Editorial cartoons for April 23, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A13

 

Groundwater becomes next big California fight

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A13

 
Fairfield’s main problem is the mayor

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 6 Comments

.

Living

Community Calendar: April 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Solving and resolving life’s problems

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

Today in History for April 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
 
A healthy take on the very not healthy Scotch egg

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

How can I get my 12-year-old grandson to sleep in his own bed?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in Philly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
DeGeneres making design series for HGTV

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Discovery to chronicle Everest avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Bieber seeks delay in Fla. DUI trial

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

5 Fairfield runners finish Boston Marathon

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Sharks beat Kings 4-3 in OT, take 3-0 series lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Prep swimming update: Postseason looms on horizon

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
SCC softball ends regular season with 29 straight wins

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

David Moyes out as Manchester United manager

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Seahawks acquire QB Terrelle Pryor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL playoff game to air on ESPN for 1st time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
MLB suspends 4 after Brewers-Pirates brawl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Djokovic: Wrist better, will try to play in Madrid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Armstrong coach Bruyneel banned for 10 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pujols’ 500th HR helps Angels beat Nationals 7-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rangers rally for two runs in ninth to beat A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Beverly Hanson, forgotten pioneer in women’s golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tech boom presents new wrinkles for Wrigley Field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Warriors announce new plans for SF arena

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kentucky freshman Julius Randle to enter NBA draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP Source: N.Y. Giants’ Hill facing 3rd suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warriors’ Curry eager to erase Game 2 nightmare

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Spurs’ Popovich wins NBA Coach of the Year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Raiders begin offseason workouts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NBA Playoffs: Raptors even series with Nets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Novartis reshapes business with GSK, Lilly deals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

AT&T had strong 1Q on wireless installment plans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Valeant, Ackman make $45.6B Allergan bid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

.

Obituaries

Robert James Carty Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Richard P. Horn

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Dondi Martin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Kyong Hee Maxwell

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Norma O’Regan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

.

Comics

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard Of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7