Tensions High In Anaheim

Courtesy of Associated Press

Following in the shadow of two officer-involved shootings last weekend, a series of protests and riots broke out this past week in Anaheim as community members expressed their outrage about the shootings that took place Saturday and Sunday evening.

Beginning with the fatal pursuit of an unarmed man, 25-year-old Santa Ana resident Manuel Angel Diaz on Saturday, tensions were high as the city mourned the death of yet another victim of officer-involved shootings. Diaz, whom police described as a “documented gang member,” fled on foot after being approached by officers for exhibiting suspicious behavior with two other individuals, and was shot by an officer in the course of the pursuit. Diaz was later pronounced dead at a local hospital as a result of the fatal injuries he incurred during the confrontation with officers.

Immediately after the shooting, as outrage for the murder of an unarmed suspect spread throughout the 600 block of Anna Drive, near La Palma Avenue and State College Boulevard, more than 100 demonstrators gathered to protest the violent acts. Although it was not immediately made clear that officers would engage in disbanding the crowd, officers shot bean bags and pepper balls at protestors after the crowd had reportedly turned violent — throwing rocks and bottles at police. Protestors and bystanders were also were injured after a police dog was released on demonstrators — the police department later apologized for the injuries that ensued and explained the deep apologies of the K-9 officer as the dog had escaped his control.

Already under scrutiny, the Anaheim police — who have dealt with weekly protests held outside of the station every Sunday in recent years — faced an emotional and angry crowd Sunday morning as family members and residents of the city showed their concern and distrust of the officers who have been known in the city to use excessive force. The events of Saturday night fueled their already existent agenda — reform of the Anaheim Police Department.

Another unrelated pursuit ended Sunday evening with the death of yet another reported gang member. Reportedly, the individual opened fire on officers after a high-speed pursuit of a stolen car. Police returned fire and the suspect was killed on the scene.

Protests continued for days as the city of Anaheim tried to deal with the recent murders and the tension that gang activity has once again brought to the city. With so much publicity surrounding the events of the past week, the question of limitations on police officers and what defines appropriate use of force has spread throughout Orange County.

But Anaheim PD is not the only police department under scrutiny for the use of excessive force and not informing the public before they use tactical weapons like pepper spray and bean bag guns. Campus police departments have also been at the receiving end of protests and disgruntled students/residents that have been outraged by recent events involving racial tensions and the financial crisis.