Terror in Anaheim
Terror in Anaheim
By MICHELLE CHEN / culturestrike.net
Aug 1, 2012

Last weekend, news cameras zoomed in on a theater in Aurora, where many moviegoers were shot down, apparently by a gunman trying to act out a crazed fantasy. While the mass killing reignited a nationwide debate on gun control, a different, but similar, tragedy unfolded not too far away in Anaheim, California. The difference was that this time, the cops did the shooting. And while the victims of the violent outbreak were also ordinary community members, unlike the Aurora residents, they had placed themselves in the line of fire by confronting a police force that works above the law.

It started when police shot an unarmed man while chasing him down an alley. The circumstances surrounding the incident remain unclear, but we know the young man’s name:  Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, pronounced dead that night at a local hospital.

 

Police had profiled Diaz as a “documented gang member” and said they approached what seemed like a suspicious gathering of three men near a car. The OC Register reports:

The dead man’s sister, Lupe Diaz, said Sunday that her brother was “just hanging out with friends” before the shooting.

“There is no explanation,” Diaz said. “It’s not fair.”

Even more inexplicable is the clash that ensued afterwards. Community members gathered at the site and confronted police in protest–an action characterized by local press as “near rioting.” The scene, caught on video, shows a gathering of residents, including women and children, being threatened and shot with crowd-control bean bags and pepper spray. At one point, a dog attacks the crowd. A man shows glaring welts in his back. A mother sobs while recounting the animal racing at her and other bystanders.

The police explained the incident as just a typical day’s work, according to the OC Register:

On Saturday, as demonstrators gathered at the scene of the shooting, Anaheim officers fired bean bags and pepper spray into a crowd of protestors. Welter said Sunday the move was in response to “some known gang members” who had begun throwing bottles and rocks at officers.

Also, Welter said a K-9 police dog accidentally escaped from an officer’s vehicle and rushed into the crowd, biting demonstrators in an attack caught on video.

At least one person received medical treatment; it was unclear if anyone else was injured, the chief said Sunday.

“Officers in this situation can’t retreat,” Welter said, defending the officers’ decision to fire at the demonstrators. “If we would have abandoned the scene, we would not be doing our job.”

Now the next job for the police is to ensure that this is presented in the media as a matter of public safety and self-defense for the officers. They’ve arrested several people already, including more “documented gang members”  (another interesting application of the ”documented” designation) and one person accused of “the forceful taking of an individual from the custody of an officer.”

The community viewed the Anaheim police’s “duty” from a different angle. The sight of a dog set upon a panicked crowd evokes grim memories of the canines deployed to suppress civil rights protesters in Birmingham under Bull Connor’s reign. (The bad optics weren’t lost on the police department, either: According to the Register, they expressed regret that the dog had “escaped” and promised that “The city will be responsible for all medical bills associated with the dog.”)

The criminalization of the crowd’s resistance contrasts with the paradox captured on video: in Anaheim, as in other communities where immigrants and people of color live under a heavy law enforcement presence, the police themselves can seem like a worse public threat than the crime they’re supposed to be policing. These scenes play out on seemingly endless loop in OaklandMaricopa CountyNew York CityNew Orleans… every block in the country where kids take a mortal risk just by stepping out on the sidewalk.

In the aftermath, a girl who came forward as Diaz’s niece explained to the Register why her uncle might have run:

Daisy Gonzalez, 16, identified her uncle as the man shot by police. She and others said his name was Manuel Diaz. She said he likely ran away from officers when they approached him because of his past experience with law enforcement.

“He (doesn’t) like cops. He never liked them because all they do is harass and arrest anyone,” Gonzalez said after lighting a candle for her uncle.

She cursed at the police who were nearby and a police helicopter that hovered above, flashing a spotlight on the neighborhood.

Protesters marched from the scene of the killing to the police headquarters on Sunday. Sunday protests have become a regular ritual for the community over the past two years, in response to other fatal shootings by the Anaheim police. Doug Kauffman, a local organizer with the Campaign to Stop Police Violence, told theRegister, “I think when you see a community act up like that and lose their fear of police, it’s a clear sign that they are angry over an injustice.”

The paper also quoted nineteen year-old Elizabeth Aguilar, who displayed a scar on her arm from a projectile shot by police and said, ‘”I used to look up to the police when I was a kid… But now I have no respect.”

This would not be the last Sunday of fear and frustration. Before the community even had time to calm down, there was news of another man shot and killed by the cops on Sunday. Smoldering trash bins in the street foreshadowed more resentment simmering below the surface.

While the current conversation around mass gun violence sheds much-needed light on the lethal consequences of our trigger-happy popular culture, violence committed by the state, often under the guise of protecting public safety, is a parallel threat that often goes unquestioned.  The brutal impunity that reigns in Anaheim shows that the state’s monopoly on violence is woven into the social fabric, and the cycle of coercion and destruction is greased by the engines of the criminal justice system.

When community members face police brutality merely for protesting an unjust shooting, channels for effective civic action, and for brokering peace, rapidly narrow. The clashes in Anaheim lacked the cinematic spectacle of the Aurora shooting, but they too involved innocent people caught in a senseless crossfire. Many in America may not yet see the connection between these two scenes, but it’s coming to a community near you.

To take action and demand an investigation into the brutality in Anaheim, visit Presente.org’s campaign page.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 14,021 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Before He Was Assassinated, MLK Jr. Was Advocating For An End To Income Inequality
10 min · 10,279 views today · We can honor MLK Jr. by pursuing the causes he was advocating for before he was killed.  ​​ Part 2: The Basic Income, A New Human Right (3 minutes) MLK's idea of a basic...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 8,690 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Watch How Europeans Carved Up African Land They Never Owned
56 min · 7,119 views today · Watch how Europeans gave away African land they never owned, then expressed anger when Africans resisted. The film is called Africa: A Voyage of Discovery, Episode 6: The...
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · 5,424 views today · The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future...
One "Piece of the Oppressor" That I Have Discovered Within Myself
Tim Hjersted · 2,310 views today · One "piece of the oppressor" that I have found in myself during my inner activist journeys is my use of shame as a method of engaging with the world's problems. Having learned...
#ReclaimMLK Seeks to Combat the Sanitizing of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy
Danielle C. Belton · 1,852 views today · Martin Luther King Jr. had more than “a dream,” but you might not notice that on Monday during observances for his birthday. Somewhere between his assassination and today...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 1,691 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
What Martin Luther King Jr. Can Teach Us about Nonviolence
John Dear · 1,498 views today · I've been reflecting on the principles of nonviolence that Martin Luther King Jr. learned during the historic yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. After Rosa Parks refused...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 1,252 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 891 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Comprehensive Activist Guide to Dismantling Neoliberalism
Drew Serres · 512 views today · “The creation of today’s market society was not the result of a sequence of spontaneous events but rather of state interference and violence.” – Naomi Klein in The Shock...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 479 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
22 Documentaries That Tell the Truth About How Government Really Works
Tim Hjersted · 478 views today · And 6 that show how people are responding.
Positive Thinking in a Dark Age: A Guide to Gracefully Losing Faith in a Collapsing Dominant Culture
Jim Tull · 360 views today · I recall a Buddhist parable involving a stick that appears from a distance to be a snake, causing fear to rise in the perceiver. As the perception shifts upon closer...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 354 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
This Woman Gets No Applause...Why? They Are Too Creeped Out...
7 min · 325 views today · Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. No amount of marketing makes factory farming...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 305 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 275 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Live Before You Die
6 min · 272 views today · Travelling the length of the country and back again with a pair of horses and gypsy caravan, Live Before You Die is the ultimate horse-drawn road movie, following a band of...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Terror in Anaheim