Anaheim Protests Over Police Killings Spark Unrest

What started out as a peaceful protest in front of Anaheim City Hall on Tuesday escalated to city-wide unrest as crowds swelled up to 1,000 in the streets into the night. Over a hundred protesters stormed City Hall in the afternoon chanting “No justice, no peace!” and “Fuck the police!” demanding to be let into the City Council chambers. As the chambers filled to capacity, officials blocked the rest of the crowd from entry. The crowd was moved outside, where they faced off by verbal confronting with police. As the chanting got more intense, about 20 police with riot gear emerged from the City Hall to completely line up against the entrance.

The protests have come about amid two fatal officer-involved shootings in Anaheim within two days. On Saturday, the police killing of Manuel Diaz gained widespread media attention after riot police fired beanbag rounds and Pepperball guns at residents demanding answers after the shooting. A K-9 was accidentally released mauling a group of bystanders – almost killing a baby and severely wounding one man. About three dumpster fires were lit that night. On Sunday afternoon, over 100 protesters stormed the Anaheim Police Department chanting “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” and “Fuck the police!”

On Sunday night, police shot and killed Joel Acevedo in the Guinida neighborhood. Outraged residents took to the streets and more dumpster fires were reported.

In 2012, there have been six Anaheim Police officer-involved shootings. However, in the span of a year, there has been eight officer-involved shootings in the city. The recent uprising seems to stem not only from the police killings, but from tensions between low-income Latino neighborhoods and law enforcement over perceived police harassment and intimidation in recent years.

Protest outside of Anaheim City Hall

Soon after the City Hall showdown, the crowd took the streets in a march. In response, police blocked off streets leading to City Hall. As the crowd continued to express anger while gathering near the intersection of Anaheim Blvd and Broadway, about 50 riot police from a dozen local police agencies arrived.

As the crowd grew to about 500 people, more than 200 riot police arrived on the scene. According to sources on the scene, a handful of people from the crowd threw water bottles, orange plastic cones and rocks.

At 8:00 p.m., the first dispersal order was given. As the night progressed, riot police used less-than-lethal beanbag rounds and Pepperball guns in an effort to disperse crowds. A half dozen fires were reported being lit throughout the city. At around 9:00 p.m., glass windows of Starbucks on Center Avenue were reportedly broken. More than a dozen other downtown businesses had their windows reportedly smashed.

There were 24 arrests throughout the night, including 4 juveniles. Anaheim Police Chief Welter told the media at least 4 people arrested were not from Anaheim.

Tim Pool came out to record the madness on his Livestream. Pool has a Livestream channel where he has broadcast several Occupy Wall Street related protests all over the country, partially funded by donations from viewers.

Pool, who arrived at Lincoln Avenue and Anaheim Blvd at about 8:30 p.m., described the scene as “high intensity” as he witnessed both police and protesters haphazardly roam the streets.

“The police were shooting these less-than-lethal weapons indiscriminately in a grocery store parking lot,” he said. “It was difficult to determine who was a protester and who was just a customer of the shopping center. We saw windows broken, some people threw rocks as big as a baseball. We saw at least four fires tonight. There’s high emotions on both sides.”

The scene calmed down a little bit after midnight, he said.

Theresa Smith, mother of Caesar Cruz who was shot by police in December 2009, attended the City Council meeting where other families affected by police killings were in attendance.

She has been holding peaceful protests outside of the Anaheim Police Department since her son died, but for now she is staying away from the escalating demonstrations.

“I don’t want to be a part of that, it is not and never has been my style,” she said. “I am going to keep doing what I am doing. There has to be change, but not the way it’s going down right now.”

Other families affected by past officer-involved shootings have also distanced themselves from the rioting, as many of them left City Hall before chaos broke out last night.

Read my articles about Theresa Smith’s fight for justice at the links below:

Reality of Brutality (March 2010)

Unarmed and Afraid: Police Shootings in the OC (March 2011)

A Mother Fights for Justice (September 2011)

Anti-police brutality protests staged in Anaheim (March 2012)

Officer-involved shootings in the OC (April 2012)

Anaheim Cruzaders: Feature story on Theresa Smith (June 2012)

Is the Anaheim City Council Next for Recall Over Police Abuse? (June 2012)

Theresa Smith Speaks Out about Riots (July 2012)

Amber Stephens