Growers’ control of law enforcement

Growers’ control of law enforcement

César Chávez speaking to the Delano chief of police, Delano, 1966. Photo by John Kouns. 

One of the main strengths of the growers in Central Valley was their influence over Delano’s police, the sheriffs of Kern and Tulare Counties, and their district attorneys and judges. In mid-October of 1966, for example, the Kern County sheriff interpreted a court injunction that banned any disturbance of the peace on the picket lines to mean that strikers could not shout at strikebreakers over a megaphone.

Police officers confronting Jim Drake and other picketers in front of Irvin Goldberg’s packing shed, Delano, ca. 1966. Photo by Emmon Clarke.

Manuel Vásquez speaks to Delano’s police chief on the first day of the pilgrimage to Sacramento. Delano, 1966. Photo by John Kouns.

And they could not use the word “huelga,” as it was not an American word (already in the 1930s, rural judges had made illegal the use of the Spanish language on the picket lines). The derogatory term for strikebreakers, scabs, in Spanish is “esquirol.” The growers were able to recruit strikebreakers through a network of labor contractors and were usually from outside the area, both from near, from Tulare, Stockton, and Bakersfield, or from Los Angeles and San Francisco, and from as far as Oregon, Texas, and Mexico.


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