A year after police shootings prompted unrest in Anaheim, some residents express frustration over response to their concerns.
By Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times
It began with violence: Anaheim police firing beanbags and a police dog breaking loose and lunging into a crowd of men, women and children, some of whom had confronted the officers over their fatal shooting of a Latino man.
When another fatal police shooting of a Latino followed, and the anger finally spilled over, people smashed windows, and police in riot gear rushed the street, even as the fireworks from Disneyland on the other side of town erupted in the night sky.
The unrest, and the street protests in the ensuing days, exposed long-simmering tensions in this resort city, not just over the police but because of a deeply rooted sense that those who live in Anaheim’s densely packed core were being marginalized and excluded by the town’s leadership.
Now, a year later, many of the issues that drove last summer’s fury have again bubbled to the surface. The results of the shooting investigations have come in, and city officials — in response to calls for greater representation for Latinos — have altered the way voters select their leaders.
But to many who live in the so-called “flatlands” of Orange County’s largest city, the investigations and decisions fall far short of what they’ve fought for. In some cases, they’ve only served to underscore frustration.
“They’re not interested in working for our community,” said Yesenia Rojas, an organizer who lives on the street where the unrest began. “We’ve gone, we’ve spoken with the City Council, and the reality is they have not responded.”
The midsummer rallies and protests were seen by some as evidence that Anaheim’s Latino community was finally flexing its political muscle.
Once staid City Council meetings were packed with local activists calling for election reform, citizens’ oversight of police, and increased spending in poor and working-class neighborhoods. People booed and applauded raucously and called council members out by name.
“They can be very aggressive,” said Councilwoman Lucille Kring. “They’ll be clapping and whistling and applauding, and they’re giving us the finger … I cannot believe there’s no respect.”
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