Memorial for Unarmed Man Slain by Anaheim Police Vandalized by Rival Gang; Grieving Mother Asks for Unity
The memorial marking the site where 25-year-old Manuel Diaz was shot and killed by Anaheim police on July 21, 2012 was trashed over the weekend. Gang members from a rival neighborhood vandalized a large banner marking his dates of birth and death. Spray paint covered pictures of Diaz and even framed photographs of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary placed atop a main table.
Gabriel San Roman / OC Weekly Manuel Diaz's memorial on Sunday morning
The incident occurred Saturday night, when residents say a couple of parties took place. After tarnishing the memorial, including throwing a bouquet of flowers to the ground while leaving their gang graffiti on the sidewalk and walls, the guilty cholos took off by car. Gun shots reportedly rang out.
Genevieve Huizar, mother of Manuel Diaz, learned of the memorial's vandalizing Sunday morning after turning her cell phone on to missed calls and messages from the night before.
"I'm very disappointed in what had been done," she says. At first Huizar thought Anaheim police trashed it, given stories she's heard about other memorials being taken down or kicked around by cops. "My mind automatically went to the police, but when I got there, I was hearing different stories that it was another neighborhood that came in."
Huizar took the spray-painted photos of her son home as her husband cleaned them up. They plan to take them back to the memorial soon. She was heartened to hear that a nearby resident put everything back in order, including the scattered flowers, right away that night.
The incident underscored an unwritten story in Anaheim: while gangs claim undue harassment by police, the war between them continues. Instead of any truces or a class consciousness of sorts where cholos realize, as 2pac once rhymed "Love your hood/but recognize and it's all good," rivals leave derisive comments online on stories regarding gang members killed by police, with "Rest in Piss" seemingly a favored taunt. Some even thank APD for doing the job for them--as Bizarro World a compliment as you'll ever find.
"These neighborhoods have to unite," Huizar says. "Without them uniting it's going to continue. If they're not being killed by these killer cops in Anaheim, they're being killed by each other."
As a woman of faith, she forgives those responsible but also emphasizes this: Huizar doesn't want retaliation or escalation for the act.
"It's not worth it. This is what the police want. They want these neighborhoods to stay against each other."
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz