(MintPress) — Protests in Anaheim continued for the ninth consecutive day this weekend as about 350 demonstrators continued to protest their disapproval of the two fatal officer-involved shootings that occurred last weekend.
An unarmed man, Manuel Diaz, who police say was a known gang member, was shot and killed on July 21 and suspect Joel Acevedo was killed July 22 after he allegedly fired a handgun at police. Activists have also begun to protest the level of violence police have used against demonstrators. Outrage intensified toward police after officers fired bean-bag rounds and pepper spray into crowds filled with women and children, and a police dog got loose and bit a few demonstrators.
Nine people were arrested Sunday, eight for blocking traffic and one for assaulting a clerk at a nearby gas station.
Protests on Saturday in front of Disneyland did not result in any arrests.
Of the protesters who gathered together on Sunday afternoon, about 200 gathered in front of the Anaheim Police Headquarters where they chanted, “The whole system is guilty” and, “Am I next?” as they attempted to point out the racial and ethnic divisions that occur in the dominantly Latino community. Although the demonstrators were noticeably angry while chanting at the beginning of the protest, they did not use any form of violence against the police officers.
‘When you saw the initial groups out front of the Police Department, things were going as best as we could have hoped,” said Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn, who was at Sunday’s protest.
But as the afternoon went on, the level of intensity the protesters displayed increased. The same 200 protesters took over a nearby parking lot where they drew outlines of bodies with chalk and wrote messages condemning the police. The group also marched down Harbor Boulevard toward Disneyland, chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” until a police line stopped the group about a half-mile away from the park. Many protesters turned around and headed back to police headquarters to continue their demonstration.
OC Weekly reported officers reacted angrily when protesters tried to document arrests during Sunday’s demonstrations. The report said that shortly after 3 p.m., Anaheim police knocked down an unarmed male protester for an unknown reason. Two officers handcuffed the man as other officers, including Mounted Police Officers, rushed up, formed a perimeter around the man and pointed rifles at the faces of photographers and shouted, “Back up!”
Organizers of Sunday’s demonstration said they hoped for peaceful protests and wanted to avoid a repeat of the July 24 protests, in which 24 people were arrested, 20 buildings were damaged and seven people were injured. In compliance with the organizer’s peaceful wishes, the other 100 protesters or so used a more peaceful strategy than their fellow demonstrators.
Dressed in white, the group remained silent as they marched five-people across, shoulder-to-shoulder, along a two-mile stretch of a main road. Some carried signs with messages such as, “We are Anaheim” and, “Peace begins with us.” Notable persons marching with the peaceful protesters included Anaheim City Councilwoman Kris Murray and California state Sen. Lou Correa, a Democrat representing Anaheim.
Police reported of the some 350 protesters, many were local activists, including members of Occupy Orange County and Kelly’s Army, a protest group formed after the fatal police beating of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, Calif. last year. Sgt. Dunn said the makeup of Sunday’s crowd changed as the day progressed, and suggested that peaceful protesters from Anaheim were likely pushed out by other activists.
Recent tension between the Anaheim Police Department and residents caused the Berkeley-based online activist organization Presente.org, a group that focuses on Latino issues, to collect about 18,000 signatures on a petition demanding California State Attorney General Kamala Harris to review the actions of the police department during the recent violent protests. “We want to see a thorough investigation into the Anaheim police and its actions in the last couple of years,” said Ana Perez of Presente.org. The group handed over the petition to Harris on Monday.