Amin David, Activist and Founder of Los Amigos, Dies at 83

Amin David at a rally in Anaheim. (Photo credit: Chris Prevatt)

Amin David at a rally in Anaheim. (Photo credit: Chris Prevatt)

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Amin David, a renowned Latino activist who for decades fought for the rights of underrepresented communities in Orange County, died Saturday night after a long bout with lymphoma.

David, who was 83, is best known for founding Los Amigos of Orange County in 1978. The group continues to hold weekly breakfast meetings at the Jagerhaus restaurant in Anaheim and became a political venue for the Latino community and others seeking help.

The Orange County Register and OC Weekly published separate profiles of David.

From the Register:

Last August, David told the Orange County Register that Los Amigos’ biggest accomplishment was, “We’ve punctured the shield of the police department.”

Connecting with law enforcement to change the way police treat Latinos, the homeless and poor, David added, is “making sure regular people have a voice.”

David served as president of Los Amigos until 2012, facilitating breakfast meetings every Wednesday at Jagerhaus Restaurant in Anaheim, where anyone needing help was invited to speak out and was heard and helped.

“The center core of what he did was around Latinos. They were just so marginalized in terms of voice and politics and space that he unapologetically stood up to assure that our communities had a voice and were heard,” said Jose Moreno, who has been Los Amigos president since 2012.

David took on issues in other communities countywide, like Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and “became and always was a staunch advocate for human rights, period,” said Moreno, an associate professor of Chicano and Latino Studies and the department chair at Cal State Long Beach.

The Weekly’s profile gives a deeper look. While the piece from Editor-in-Chief Gustavo Arellano praised David’s legacy of “bettering Orange County’s damned,” the alternative newspaper also reiterated its longstanding criticism of certain political alliances David struck, including support for former Mayor Curt Pringle, a city leader who continues to hold significant influence behind-the-scenes.

Pringle is reviled by many progressives for his role in steering massive tax subsidies to politically connected businesses, including an infamous $158-million room-tax subsidy given to hotel developer Bill O’Connell.

From the Weekly:

Anyone who did any sort of progressive activism in Orange County over the past 35 years went to at least one Los Amigos meeting. And through Los Amigos, the biggest issues to affect Latino OC found its foot soldiers: tenant strikes in Santa Ana during the mid-1980s, the fight against Proposition 187 in 1994, Bob Dornan in 1996 and the persecution of Nativo Lopez afterward, and too many more to list. Ronnie Carmona found her legal representation after pleading her innocent son’s case there. When no politician would stand with undocumented students, David and Los Amigos did. Politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, would show up and get grilled, knowing it was necessary to do so lest they face the righteous wrath of David at the next public hearing, backed by activists who weren’t going to take any insults for Latinos in Orange County any more. Long before criticizing police abuse became popular, David and other Los Amigos members successfully won a lawsuit against the Anaheim Police Department after they discovered the boys in blue had long spied on them just because Los Amigos dared speak out against brutal cops.

David will be sorely missed by the Voice of OC newsroom. From the day we began publishing, he was a helpful source in our reporting on Anaheim City Hall and beyond. He never held back in holding the powerful accountable.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

    A loud voice when the listening was distant. A sympathetic ear when voices spoke s