Anaheim Shootings — Bad Cops and the Disenfranchised Latino Community

San Jose, CA — Anaheim is supposed to be the location for the happiest place on Earth, Disneyland. But far from being a happy place, Anaheim was more like Los Angeles during the 1992 riots as angry marchers were protesting the shooting and death of two young Latino men in separate incidents but both caused by the Anaheim police.

A riot ensued between 1,000 protesters who threw rocks at store windows and cops donned in riot gear. The protest march was a reaction of the people to the deaths of two Latino men who were shot and killed by the police. The situation between the Anaheim police and the Latino community is very volatile right now and could lead to further conflicts. With a population of 336,000, the Latino community has been the most disenfranchised minority group in Anaheim whose leaders would rather look the other way than address their needs.

In an effort to calm public tension, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait guaranteed that the incidents will be investigated by the FBI and California’s State Attorney General’s Office to avoid any whitewash on the case and it will also be reviewed by the county district attorney’s office.

In a press conference, Mayor Tom Tait stated, “The investigation will seek the truth, and whatever the truth is, we will own it.” One of the shooting victims, Manuel Diaz, 25 years old, was shot and killed by the police after he ran away from the police. The police claimed that he appeared like he was trying to conceal an object in his waist area but no weapon was found on his body. The other thing suspicious about his death is that he was shot on the leg and in the head. Aren’t police trained to take in suspects alive and just disarm or disable them? Meanwhile the police claimed that the other shooting victim, Joel Acevedo – 21, shot back at them. It seems the police in Anaheim use Latinos for target practice, they apparently just shoot, no tasers or just chases to manually subdue suspects.

The incident occurred on Anna Drive, an impoverished side of town far from the Anaheim that people are accustomed to seeing. In this side of town crime and gangs are a common thing, people have learned to look the other way and try to mind their own business.

Take Back Anaheim protestor Joanne Sosa had this to say about the situation, “Right now, there’s a festering anger. They’re trying to calm things down, but how can they when their voices were stifled.” She further added, “This is why we have a problem here. The people in these areas … they’re right in the shadow and the border of Disney. The money from the city always goes to the rich.”

In Anaheim, police have a knack of racially profiling Latinos. The community and the police are so divided. The people who are supposed to serve and protect are the ones doing the killing. But there are people like Kellen Dugan (a resident of Anaheim and who served in the Army) thinks that the police department is doing a fine job and since some parts of the city are hotspots, the police have a right to be worried. Mr. Dugan should be reminded that he is no longer in Iraq or Afghanistan.

With unconcerned city leaders, criminal police officers, and a disenfranchised Latino community, it will be just a matter of time before the situation in Anaheim becomes another riot and looting scene just like in 1992 if the city continues to practice apathy on the plight of others.

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