August 1, 2012
The mayor of Anaheim is trying to make amends with the community recently plagued by cop violence.
The neighborhood, just miles away from Anaheim’s cash cow Disneyland, has been the rally point for furious protests ever since an officer-involved shooting claimed the life of an unarmed 25-year-old Manuel Diaz.
According to KTLA, Mayor Tom Tait “did a lot of listening and a lot of hugging” when he visited an apartment Tuesday near where the fatal shooting took place.
Although Tait made no public statement, a City Councilmember told KTLA, “We came to them. We came to the heart of the community where all this began.”
ABC News reported the circumstances surrounding Diaz’s death: “Police were pursuing three suspects into an alley in Anaheim at about 4 p.m. Saturday [July 21st] when they chased 25-year-old Manuel Angel Diaz. The man was confronted by an officer at the front of an apartment complex, where he was shot. Diaz later died in the hospital, while the two other suspects managed to evade the police.”
Salon.com documented how police still felt it necessary to handcuff Diaz’s lifeless body: “Ten days ago, police handcuffed Manuel Diaz, 25, as he lay face-down in the grass outside an apartment block. The unarmed young man did not resist — he had already been shot in the back of the head after an incident that police have not described.”
The next day officers shot and killed 21-year-old Joel Acevedo who allegedly opened fire on officers.
Since the deaths about 10 days ago, clashes between protesters and police have been ongoing.
Earlier last week, police swatted a peaceful protest by deploying rubber bullets and unleashing K9’s even though some demonstrators were women and children.
On Saturday police converged to block the intersection of Anaheim Blvd. and Broadway, the roads leading to the “happiest place on earth.” Protesters were trying to get the multi-billion dollar corporate giant to acknowledge police violence in the community.
Investigative journalist Amber Lyon witnessed the protests and police state atmosphere. She told RT, “There’s definitely a disconnect you feel out there between the residents and the police force.”
Police don’t seem too concerned with displaying a friendly presence. Photos out of Anaheim show police in full military attire, complete with camouflage and assault rifles.
Footage of Sunday’s protest depicts a group of peaceful demonstrators being intimidated by militarized police. The video shows protest leaders being arrested and put in unmarked white vans for seemingly no reason other than being leaders of the pack. People can be heard yelling “Put your guns away, this is a peaceful protest!”
Warning! Video contains strong language.
A total of 24 demonstrators were arrested last Tuesday.
So far police have said nothing about the Diaz shooting other than he was a documented gang member.
His death is still under investigation by internal affairs, the city’s Office of Independent Review, and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Mayor Tait expressed his support of a fully transparent investigation at a press conference Sunday stating, “I’m asking for a full investigation…Transparency is essential. Whatever the truth is, we will own it.”
To date, a total of 2 men have been killed by Anaheim police in the past 2 weeks bringing this year’s death toll to 5. 7 officer-involved shootings have taken place this year compared to the four officer-involved shootings in 2011.
AP reports a resident saying “the mayor looked sad and his eyes watered,” but it’s going to take a lot more than stifled tears to bring justice to the community who had to learn the hard way that police are not their friends.
Yesenia Rojas, who sustained multiple rubber bullet pelts in trying to protect her children, questioned the police’s role and effectiveness: “Is Anaheim police really protecting our communities? They’re not protecting our communities. They’re killing our kids.”