Protests, Pickets, and Vigils Planned for First Anniversary of Anaheim's Unrest

Still unhappy...
Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of when Anaheim's simmering tensions between police and the barrios finally boiled over. It was on July 21 that officer Nick Bennallack shot and killed Manuel Angel Diaz, a 25-year old unarmed man, on Anna Drive. As neighbors began gathering and demanding answers, police fired less-than-lethal projectiles into the crowd that included women and children. The images of chaos were caught on amateur video, aired on local television station CBS-KCAL9, and quickly made world headlines.

The next night, Joel Acevedo was shot and killed by officer Kelly Phillips on West Guinida Lane. Days out outrage followed culminating in spontaneous street clashes between residents and police on July 24 outside of City Hall. The back-to-back weekend shootings of both Diaz and Acevedo last summer were ruled justified by the Orange County District Attorney's office this year. So what has changed? The protests, vigils, forums and pickets planned for the next few days suggest not much.

Starting tonight through Tuesday, the following events are scheduled to take place:

  • This evening, Interim Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada and Captain Julian Harvey will be on hand addressing community concerns in an East Street Community Renewal Initiative (ESCRI) hosted forum from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. inside the Eli Home Thrift Store located at 1175 N. East Street, Anaheim.
  • On Sunday, a statewide march against police brutality, largely organized by ANSWER LA, will start at Anaheim City Hall at 1 p.m. Protestors from the Bay Area to San Diego will be joining the fray. Where will the march end? Hell if I know! ANSWER usually has a reputation for orderly demonstrations. I just hope they aren't up to their vanguardist ways...The police, I'm told, have promised not to don their GI Joe fatigues.
  • Later on that day, there will be two candlelight vigils. The first will take place at 6 p.m. on North Anna Drive off of La Palma Avenue at the memorial site of Manuel Angel Diaz. The second will take place at 7:30 p.m at Anaheim City Hall.
  • On Monday, an early morning protest starting at 9 a.m. is scheduled to take place outside the Orange County District Attorney's office located at 401 Civic Center Drive, Santa Ana. Later on that day, a candlelight vigil will take place on West Guinida Lane for Joel Acevedo at his memorial site starting at 6:30 p.m. Hopefully this time around, no police helicopter noise will drown it out.
  • On Tuesday, people will be picketing outside Anaheim City Hall during the council meeting at 5 p.m. This action is not tied to demands regarding police, but is focused on the call for eight single-member districts while protesting the manner in which councilwoman Kris Murray and her cohorts brushed aside the recommendation of the Citizens Advisory Committee to put the issue before the vote of the people.

Whew! It would be wrong to say nothing has changed since last year. Deputy Chief Craig Hunter and Chief John Welter both retired. Thankfully for all sides, no fatal officer-involved shootings have taken place so far this year. But that's about as far as it goes. A new gang injunction has been placed in a so-called safety zone that includes Anna Drive. No police oversight committee has been formed to date. Should it ever come, chances are it will largely be toothless and ineffective.

The Kris Murray-led council majority has been playing political games with single-member district elections all year long as an ACLU lawsuit drags on knowing that the big business interests they represent would have to actually work hard to maintain the status quo should the reform redraw Anaheim's electoral system.

What a piece of work this city is, eh? Certainly not the happiest place on Earth.

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz

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Thanks Gabriel for this informative article, and thanks Cynthia for calling our attention to the proper context of these activities.

18usc241 topcommenter

So let's review what progress we have made in Anaheim since last year. Mind you, I've watched the Anaheim police department engage in deliberate criminal harassment of an American citizen since the Randall Gaston era (in other words since before 9/11).

Well nothing really happened other than the fact that there have been no killings by APD since the protests (probably just a cooincidence). And a move by the city of Anaheim to shovel even more of your taxpayer dollars to what was supposed to be one of the four gruelling layers of police oversight. Except from my unique perspective, these four layers of oversight have not a damn idea what's going on behind their backs - at best.

Being one of the world's leading experts on Orange County law enforcement criminality and corruption by virtue of being a victim here are my recommendations:

Dismantle the four layers of oversight.

With the money saved from that lost cause, build yourselves a civilian based police oversight committee with subpoena powers and authority.

Be certain that this committee has access to ALL documentation related to a case under review so as to preclude some smart ass Chief or spokesman talking about how they have access to additional info no one else is privy to. I've seen that ridiculous tactic actually used by a police Chief with an impotent civilian oversight committee.

DO NOT allow anyone from OC law enforcement, the DA's office or the Orange County court system anywhere near this committee as a member. We need ethics and integrity at this point.

And if you find yourselves struggling to find someone with the courage to Chair this committe, German Santos is available. You see, back in the 1990's, a collection of criminal US law enforcement assholes dropped a weapon of mass defamation on my person. It had the effect of destroying my reputation with every police department, Sheriff's department and private security company in the LA/Orange/San Diego county areas. I have an unprecedented and unique perspective on your law enforcement community and I fear NO ONE at this point.

And just a final side note:

If I were someone with a huge financial stake in this entertainment industrial complex, I would be so pissed right now.

18usc241 topcommenter

As for Raul Quezada - same old mockery of the criminal code 18USC241 - different face. What did you think Gaston/Baker/Welter were going to allow to become Chief - someone who would turn them in? LOL

18usc241 topcommenter

I wonder how Craig Hunter is enjoying retirement.


To his credit, the new Interim Chief does seem to keep his word. In the past, clicking the link at the APD website for the Policy Manual took you to a page under construction, He has been working to get those policies online and visible, which is a HUGE step in the direction of accountability.

However, we still have a long way to go, in a department where "the action was not in violation of any department policy" simply means the action sucked but they haven't gotten around to creating a policy telling cops NOT to do it so they are clear. And PD is still refusing to publicize consequences for violating policy, so while we now see they are required to use DAR devices with every public contact, and actually wear their name tags at all times, we have zero idea what happens if they don't. Suspension? A firm talking to?  Apparently that is none of our business. 

I like the new Interim Chief, or at least I like the public persona he presents to us, and I understand that last night he kept his word at the ESCRI forum and publicly confirmed what he had privately told some about new policies and transparency, so I applaud him for being willing to go on record and be held accountable. 

Let's see how this weekend's events play out. Matt Cunningham and the eight readers who share a brain over there are convinced the end of the world as we know it will befall Anaheim if protesters show up, but law enforcement doesn't seem to have their department issued knickers in knots, so I think they just like to hear themselves shriek. I pray that all who attend the march show respect to our neighborhood, unlike last July when those who had nothing at all to do with the issues people were pissed about were the ones bearing the brunt of the violence. Police reaction (or over-reaction) will also be key, they are trained professionals who know what  escalates hostility and what deactivates that, but ultimately it is up to the organizers of the event to keep it clean and calm, and express themselves without victimizing the town that has already been through way too much. 

I hope to see many faces at the Candlelight Vigil, and I am thankful for the alternative event, I would never consider marching alongside someone in a Guy Fawkes mask chanting, "No Justice! No Peace!" I suspect much of mainstream Anaheim doesn't care for that expression of free speech, but some of us will come to a Candlelight Vigil to show support for grieving families who have not been accused of any crime, (but somehow convicted alongside their sons none the less) 7:30 City Hall steps, no masks, no bullhorns, just a call to gather and bring attention to a very broken system that leaves young men dead and the public suspicious of those we should be trusting. Something needs to change, and it starts with us being aware and not sweeping it under the rug. 

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