Anaheim Cops Send SWAT Teams to Face Off With Police Brutality Protesters
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Anaheim PD Sunday to protest a spate of fatal cop shootings in their community—and all was peaceful, until the group tried to march towards Disneyland. That's when the riot cops showed up. LA Times:
The protest took a dramatic turn when the crowd began marching en masse on Harbor Boulevard, saying they were headed to Disneyland. But police in riot gear corralled them, and many returned to police headquarters.
Authorities made nine arrests in connection with the protests, according to Anaheim police. Eight of them — including three men from San Bernardino, Escondido and San Diego — were arrested when, police said, they failed to disperse or they blocked traffic after authorities told them to get out of the street. A woman was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an employee and customers at a nearby gas station.
For many, the influx of SWAT as the neighborhood's low-income residents made way towards its world-renowed mega-moneymaker was symbolic. Anaheim native Gustavo Arellano, Editor in Chief of OC Weekly (and longtime writer of "Ask a Mexican!"), wrote in a recent, must-read piece that the recent cop killings—of 25-year-old Manuel Diaz and 21-year-old Joel Acevedo, the latter of whom was unarmed—are simply a continuation of a long history of class and race friction in a deeply inequitable community fostered by neglectful politicians. Arellano:
It's not the police, but rather the lack of city leadership that has allowed a once-proud city to decay, to create the tense situation Anaheim is in today. Actually, scratch that: There has been city leadership, one so deluded it set the conditions that allowed Anaheim's long, hot summer to finally explode. [...]
Something is amiss in the Anaheim Police Department—a department that cares more about confiscating witness videos than tending to the still-twitching body of Diaz just moments after officers shot him in the head (as seen in video exclusively obtained by the Weekly) is one with serious problems. But police will be police (and a good force is desperately needed at a time when actual crimes plague Anaheimers). Far more nefarious are Anaheim's uncaring bureaucrats and politicians, and all the protests in the coming weeks, while necessary, won't amount to anything unless activists target City Hall. Burning small fires and chanting rattles the lords, but it does nothing to tear down the castle.
It's such a good point, particularly when examining the events of yesterday, with fear in Anaheim's Latino communities so widespread that many are refusing even to speak to reporters. Also via OC Weekly:
At a candlelight vigil held for Diaz Tuesday night, a man identifying himself as Diaz's brother pleaded with the crowd not to give any cellphone footage of the shooting to police.
"Those (videos) are for us," he shouted.
Meanwhile, at yesterday's protest, Teresa Smith, the mother of a man who was killed by police in 2009, joined the frustration that speaks to a divided community:
In front of police headquarters earlier, Smith, wearing a T-shirt reading "In loving memory of my son," acknowledged that the community remains outraged after the recent clashes with police, but she said that acting out on that anger would only hurt the demonstrators' cause. "But it's their anger," she added, "and I understand the years of frustration.... I don't condone it, but I understand it."
Soon after the protest began, demonstrators congregated on the sidewalk just yards from the front entrance of police headquarters. The crowd chanted: "The whole system is guilty" and "Am I next?," touching on a sense of stewing ethnic and class divisions in the city.
Despite arrests Sunday, police refrained from shooting rubber bullets or unleashing K-9s into the crowd, as occurred at Tuesday's protest.