Revolution #276, July 29, 2012
Anaheim Cops Kill Two Latinos in Two Days
"The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be."
For four days, Anaheim, California, has been rocked by righteous anger and defiance ignited by the police execution of Manuel Diaz on Saturday, July 21 on Anna Drive, and then the murder of Joel Acevedo the next evening.
Saturday afternoon, July 21:
Neighbors and friends say it was a quiet afternoon on Anna Drive. Little kids were playing outside. Manuel Diaz was talking with a friend when two cops in an unmarked car pulled up.
According to Manuel's mother, Genevieve Huizar, "Witnesses say he was just at a water spigot washing his hands when the police came around the corner, and they shot him. He was not running. There's no truth to being in a car, a stolen car, that a lie! There's no truth to that. All the witnesses in the area say he was just washing his hands when the police came up. He was shot in the back, he was shot first in the back and then when he was down then they shot him another time! Then they shot him in the head! If he was robbing a bank, ok, if he was doing something wrong, but he wasn't doing anything wrong. He didn't deserve to die."
Originally the police said that officers on patrol "in a high crime gang area" shot a gang member who ran from them.
"I didn't see it, but I heard exactly what happened," a friend of Manuel's told Revolution. "He got shot. By the cops. Supposedly for running, when he did not run. He did not run… Shot in the back, and in the head. That's bullshit. That's bullshit to me. Seriously. Yes, he might have a record, but that doesn't mean anything, that doesn't mean anything. Ask anybody. If people needed something, he would go to them, and help them." A young woman told Revolution that Manuel was always helpful and friendly. He never disrespected people; he was never disrespectful to women, she told us.
Saturday night, July 21:
On Anna Drive, residents immediately began to protest, first with placards and signs. The police on the scene were "securing the area for investigators" and trying to intimidate the residents and offering money to anyone who'd caught the murder on a phone or gadget. Then Saturday night police violently attacked a crowd of kids, parents, mothers with strollers, and others protesting the murder.
News video shows overturned bikes, strollers, and parents shielding children as police fire rubber bullets into the crowd in the neighborhood. An officer "accidentally" unleashed a snarling police dog that attacked a mother holding her child, and attacked a 19- year- old man who suffered dog bite wounds. Police shot pepperballs and beanbags at residents, but people stood their ground.
This vicious attack intensified people's anger and residents bravely defended themselves. People took to the streets and stopped business as usual on La Palma and Anna Sts.
Posted above the candles and flowers at the memorial people made for Manuel Diaz were signs reading "APD – Another Person Dead" "FUCK the Police" and "They Have Blood on Their Badges."
Sunday, July 22:
On Sunday, the family of Manuel Diaz, a number families of those killed by Anaheim- and Orange County- based police departments, and activists congregated at the Anaheim police headquarters. As Manuel Diaz's mother entered to demand the police report on her son's killing, over 50 protesters followed her in. There was a stand-off, as protesters confronted police in the lobby of the headquarters, demanding that the killer cops be put in jail.
At the protest were family members of Kelly Thomas, a mentally impaired homeless man who was beaten to death by Fullerton police. In the last year, Anaheim police have shot down David Raya, Marcel Ceja, Bernie Villegas, Roscoe Cambridge, Gerardo Pineda, and Martin Hernandez. And they were not done killing people this weekend, as you will read below.
At the protest families spoke with Revolution newspaper. Theresa Smith is the surviving mother of Ceasar Cruz, gunned down by Anaheim police in 2009. Speaking of the Anaheim police shooting of her son, "All I know is they followed him. It happened at Walmart. Several officers followed him under cover. They followed him, they boxed him in, they shot him. It was five police involved, they each shot him, I don't know how many times, I just know they shot him twice in the head."
Sonia Hernandez is the sister of Martin Hernandez, who was gunned down four months ago by Anaheim police. Speaking of her brother’s shooting and Saturday's execution of Manuel Diaz, she said, " That's racist… they're viewing all Mexicans as gang members. And even if they are, is it right to kill a gang member? Who knows their life story? They might be trying to change their life around. And I think that was my brother. He never had a chance to actually continue to work or do something with his life. He was just beginning to change and never had a chance. My brother was 21. It was exactly 20 days before his 22nd birthday."
Anaheim is 52% Latino; 50% of the population is under 35. Latino neighborhoods are home to many immigrants and sons and daughters of immigrants and are overwhelmingly young.
Sunday evening, July 22:
On Sunday evening, Anaheim police killed another young Latino. According to a police spokesperson, gang officers recognized "a gang member on probation in a stolen SUV." The police story is that a man who fled the SUV after it crashed fired at police; police returned fire. Joel Acevedo was killed. A picture online shows Acevedo's body with a handgun positioned between his legs. Acevedo may have had a gun. Or, that gun may have been dropped by police after they gunned Joel Acevedo down. Either way, Anaheim police act as judge, jury and executioner. This is now the sixth officer-involved shooting, five of them fatal, in Anaheim this year.
Monday July 23:
The neighborhood is seething angry about these police killings and the police attack on their neighborhood Saturday night. On Monday afternoon people are hanging out on Anna St., talking with each other and with supporters who have come into the neighborhood about what to do. Residents of Anna Drive are now urged by Latino community organizers to come to the City Council meeting on Tuesday to make their voices heard and to bring out the truth. Maybe opening an official channel will quiet down these people, city officials hope. That night, residents of Anna St. march up and down the street demanding justice for Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo.
Tuesday, July 24:
Hundreds of people come out to protest at the council meeting. They are confronted by Anaheim and Brea riot police. The overwhelming majority of people are prevented from entering City Council chambers. They chant "Let us in" and "Manuel Diaz, Esta Presente!" and "Asesinos! Asesinos!"
After an intense confrontation of hundreds of people inside and in front of City Hall where the City Council was meeting with the riot squad stationed in front of the doors, people took off on a march to the Anaheim police department. When the march returned, a few cops ran up shooting rubber bullets, beanbags and pepperballs. This small group of cops got surrounded and retreated. Then the swarms of cops in cars came in and arrested some people down in the middle of the street in front of City Hall. Hundreds of people were swirling around and a stand-off developed for about an hour between people in the street and the cops.
Inside City Hall, the City Council voted unanimously to ask the U.S. Attorney's office to investigate the police shootings. Outside, a thousand people had gathered by now, squaring off against the riot squads from Anaheim and Brea police. A group of people took off down the street. Reports from the Orange County Register are that a bank and a Starbucks were trashed, as were some other downtown spots; fires were set in the street.
The crowd was young, angry. The mood: "Just 'cause we're Latino you want to kill us!? We're not having it, not this time." By the next morning, 24 people had been arrested, and it was reported by the local press that the police department and City Hall buildings and some patrol cars were damaged.
Wednesday, July 25:
There are reports from people in the community, including on Anna St., that police are targeting youth in the wake of Tuesday's defiance and resistance to police murder. As we go to press, solidarity marches against police brutality in Anaheim are being planned in other cities, and the next steps are being planned by people in the community and others who have been and are standing with them, who have been outraged by these two killings.
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