In the shadow of the Magic Kingdom and inside the cradle of the Angels, the minority majority is saying ¡No Mas! to being disrespected and overlooked.
Today marked the fourth day of disruptive protests by Anaheim Latinos, that currently make up 54% of the city’s population, and others against their trigger-happy police force.
It was the 7th and 8th police shooting of the year, both fatal, of Latino young men that brought to the surface barely veiled feelings of injustice, discrimination and unfairness.
This past weekend in separate shootings two known gang members were shot to death by police, Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, and Joel Acevedo, 21. However it was the Saturday afternoon shooting of unarmed Diaz that setoff the protests. Acevedo was shot on Sunday.
Diaz was stopped and chased by police and for unknown reasons was reportedly shot in the leg and back of the head, then handcuffed and left lying on the lawn of a residential apartment building while officers searched for evidence. He later died at the hospital and many residents insist valuable time in trying to save his life was lost.
While many are calling for justice, there is also criticism of the protesters for storming police Headquarters, setting dumpsters on fire and today breaking storefront windows.
Was all of this an overreaction to the arrests, pepper spraying, rubber belts and a charging police dog? All things used by Anaheim police on the protesters, that initially included the mother of Diaz, Genevieve Huizar.
It is not. The shooting deaths were just the catalyst for long-held grievances and not a mere excuse to act out.
There is a long history of rancor between Anaheim Latinos and the city it calls home. In spite of being the home to Disneyland and the California Angels there isn’t much to bring joy to the areas that are predominantly Latino.
According to a study by ‘Orange County Communities for Responsible Development’ the nearby, affluent Anaheim Hills has more parks, libraries and community centers with less residents to use them.
Just last month the ACLU of California filed suit against the City for excluding the large Latino population from city government. Though Latinos make up 54% of the population there are none on city council and 4 out of the 5 council members are from Anaheim Hills.
Maybe that’s why they have more parks, libraries and community centers.
In its history, Anaheim city council can only claim three elected Latinos, which is one less than the KKK had.
There was even an Anaheim police officer, Steve Nolan, who turned on his fellow officers to report police brutality against Latinos back in the 1990’s. An internal review, like many others, found no fault with police action.
Maybe Latinos thought they needed to protest loud enough to be noticed. Especially considering that since 2010 6 families have been protesting peacefully in front of police headquarters in the name of the victims of police shootings.
Maybe screaming ¡No Mas! for a little while longer will be enough, coupled with the Mayor’s call for a federal review of the shootings and Huizar calls for the violence to stop in the name of her dead son.
However, Anaheim Hills better hope protesters don’t decide to take their act across town where there is grass and the grass is literally greener.