by: John Rodriguez
The city of Anaheim is in a state of unrest after a case of several police shootings over the weekend sparked outrage amongst the Latino community. After two police shootings resulted in the deaths of two men, one unarmed, the incident caused Anaheim citizens to take to the streets to protest against the crimes committed by law enforcement, crimes believed to be based upon racism against Latinos.
Yesterday, protestors marched to Anaheim City Hall where city council members had gathered to cast a vote on whether the U.S Attorney’s office should investigate the shootings, but when some protestors could not acquire a seat within the meeting police began turning away the crowd which set off another bout between police and civilians. According to The Los Angeles Times police deployed rubber bullets on the crowd, which refused to move, hurting at least 5 people during the encounter.
After the melee with law enforcement outside City Hall, protestors took their aggression out on the city itself. One fellow protestor named George Rangel said that, while he wasn’t angry at the protestors for coming out against the shootings, he was angry at the way the protests have unfolded into utter chaos. “There’s no reason for the public to be acting like this. It’s out of control. What we need is leadership within the Mexican Community to lead these people.”
A reporter named Corey Moore, covering the situation as night fell, describes how “Police helicopters hovered from above as colorful fireworks from nearby Disneyland lit up the sky. At one point, police shut down a gas station when protestors were seen filling canisters with gas.”
The protests are a result of a deadly police shooting that happened on Saturday when an unarmed Manuel Angel Diaz, aged 24, was struck down by police in what law enforcement described as a “police-involved shooting.” However, witnesses and protestors find the claim by law enforcement as a lie. After the incident on Saturday a Youtube video has surfaced sparking civilians’ anger against Anaheim police officers due to the video showing Diaz in handcuffs prior to being shot by police officers.
Tensions was further fueled on Saturday when after Diaz’s shooting another Latino man named Joel Mathew Acevedo, aged 21, was also struck down by police officers. The deaths of both men have convinced the people, the Latino members, of Anaheim to believe that law enforcement of the area is specifically targeting Latino civilians.
The deaths of the two Latino men have outraged Latino leaders in the area asking for investigation into what they believe is just another incident in a “history of brutality” against Latino residents. Latino leaders have added the deaths of Diaz and Acevedo to the reported 5 other Latinos being killed by police shootings this year.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has asked for a state, including a federal, review of the shooting death of Diaz meanwhile Anaheim city council members voted to ask the U.S. Attorney to investigate the officer shootings. However, the protests still continue because of the growing unstable relationship between civilians and police officers.
While Diaz’s family has filed a lawsuit against the city of Anaheim and the police department, stating in the lawsuit that Diaz was shot once when he was chased by officers and then shot a final time in the back of the head after he dropped to his knees, Diaz’s mother has spoken to reporters about the protests. At the site of her son’s shooting, Genevieve Huizar asked for local residents to stop the violence since the chaos is “wrong and needs to stop on both sides.”
The protest has entered its fourth day with a total of 24 arrests.