TimesOC: Neighbors nightly guard Asian Ladera Ranch family against hate crimes

"Sign up for our TimesOC newsletter" and the L.A. Times logo over the Huntington Beach Pier at sunset.
TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.

It’s Wednesday, March 3. I’m Carol Cormaci on rotation with my colleagues, editor John Canalis and reporter Ben Brazil, to bring you the latest roundup of Orange County news and events.

One of the most disturbing side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is not physical but xenophobic. Too many Asians and Pacific Islanders have been taking the heat since early last year for the spread of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.

A news article published last summer and written by our colleague Ahn Do details some of the 800-plus reported racist taunts (“You started the corona!”) that had been hurled against Asian Americans as of July. Eight months later such hatred still seethes unabated and violent attacks continue to be reported around the state and beyond. Last month, a man was beaten with a cane in Rosemead.

Here in Orange County, one band of neighbors is standing up and protecting an Asian American family that has been targeted in a series of attacks since they moved into Ladera Ranch a few months ago, our colleague Hannah Fry reported this week for the L.A. Times.

“Almost immediately [after the Si family moved into the neighborhood], teenagers swooped in for nightly visits, repeatedly ringing the doorbell, yelling and pounding on the door,” Fry writes. “One told Haijun Si to ‘go back to your country.’ another called Si’s wife a pejorative slur used to describe a Chinese person. Some threw rocks.”

There are two young children in the Si family. Their parents did what they could to keep their family safe from harm. They installed security surveillance equipment and a fence. They took turns standing outside at night to keep a watchful eye on their property. They requested help from law enforcement. A caring neighbor took note and organized others in the area to set up a nightly watch over the Si household. It’s a remarkable effort to show solidarity and to fight the haters. The harassment hasn’t stopped entirely, but it has abated to a degree.

“I’m so thankful for my neighbors,” Si said.

 Layla Parks and Dave Uemura check the list of time slots for the Mocha Watch Crew.
Members of the neighborhood security detail for Haijun Si’s family, Layla Parks and Dave Uemura, check the list of time slots that need to be filled for the Mocha Watch Crew on Feb. 25 at Ladera Ranch in Orange County. The Si family has been harassed by local teens who have been throwing rocks and yelling racial slurs. The neighbors got together to from a security team which they call the Mocha Watch Crew.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)


— Out of environmental and public safety concerns, some South Laguna Beach residents have asked the county to look into whether there should be a gate at the top of the stairs that lead down to Table Rock Beach to keep people from accessing the area during overnight hours.

— Last Friday’s closure of the Ruby’s Diner on the Huntington Beach pier drew throngs of customers who wanted to experience the eatery on last time. Other Ruby’s in Orange County are expected to remain open.

— After months of debate over whether pride flags at Costa Mesa’s Orange County Fair & Event Center grounds constitute a symbol of welcome for all or are an act of exclusion, board members voted 6-1 last Thursday to let them wave.

— Orange County’s beach area school districts are keeping a hopeful eye on state Assembly Bill 86, which is expected to pass on Thursday and would facilitate dollars to encourage schools to reopen by April 1. The news was first heralded Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic legislators that $2 billion in incentives would be forthcoming.

— Two more area educators are receiving Teacher of the Year honors: Anne Brasie and Noel Clancy, who were recognized by the Ocean View School District

— In other news on the education front, Coastline College has broken ground for a new student service center. It’s hoped the $35-million facility will be ready for use in late 2022.


— High school cross-country athletes have been back out on courses in recent days, vying again after having seen all sports put on hold for months on end. “As cross-country teams compete in one dual meet after another, it continues to demonstrate how much this season is unlike the others,” writes reporter Andrew Turner, who covered one such dual meet at Central Park in Huntington Beach Saturday.

— Evan Langston, a former top snow boarder from Mammoth Lakes, today plays baseball for Newport Harbor High School. Next up for the right-hand Sailors pitcher and outfielder is a move to Colorado Springs after he signed to play college baseball for the University of Colorado.

— With a score by Taylor Rubly, the Huntington Beach field hockey team earned a 1-0 win over Newport Harbor on Friday in the first game of the year, a contest that was pulled together quickly after high school sports were given the go-ahead. “As soon as I saw it hit the back [of the cage], it was like bliss,” Rubly said afterward.

Huntington Beach's Taylor Rubly shoots and scores Friday, Feb. 26.
Huntington Beach’s Taylor Rubly shoots and scores as Newport Harbor’s Candence Cockrell challenges her during a field hockey match at Huntington Beach High School on Friday, Feb. 26.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

— In pro ice hockey action, the Anaheim Ducks fell to St. Louis, 5-4 in play Monday at the Honda Center, despite a late rally. It was the Ducks’ seventh loss in a row.


— Newport Beach resident Mark Kelegian and his family are preparing to open one of their Randy’s Donuts sites in Costa Mesa on March 9 and one of the chain’s iconic giant signs has arrived to catch hungry customers’ eyes. “My interest all along has been to expand the brand. I think it could be the next big doughnut franchise chain in the nation and the world,” Kelegian told our colleague Sara Cardine.

A Randy's Donuts sign is installed along Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa on Feb. 25.
A freshly manufactured 25-foot-tall Randy’s Donuts sign is installed along Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Feb. 25.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

— It’s all about the sweets today: If you’ve already (no judgment!) devoured the cookies you purchased this year from your friendly Orange County Girl Scout and have a hankering for more Thin Mints, you might want to try baking up this version on your own.


— Santa Ana’s fifth annual Boca de Oro Festival of Literary Arts & Culture returns this weekend, offered online due to the pandemic. More than 150 presenters are participating in 109 free sessions that will include readings, workshops, panels, poetry, theatrical performances and more.

— Another event opening this Friday is the 2021 visual arts lecture series hosted by Cal State Fullerton’s Begovich Gallery. First up is visual artist Mark Steven Greenfield; the next lecture, set for March 15, features artist Leonard Suryajaya.

—“The COVID Monologues,” a project presented by Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, honors people who have died from COVID-19. A new batch of collected monologues is expected to be released in May.

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.