California suburb rocked by four nights of violent clashes over police shootings

 
As Disneyland’s fireworks show lit up the night sky on Tuesday evening, less festive sparks were flying down below. Police and protesters violently clashed in the streets of Anaheim, California, home to the theme park.
 
For four nights, protests rocked the suburban town after two men were shot dead by police officers in separate incidents. Our Observer filmed Tuesday’s protest as it descended into violence.
 
The killing that first sent Anaheim residents into the streets was that of Manuel Angel Diaz, who was shot dead after running from police on Saturday. His mother has filed a lawsuit against the police department in federal court. Her lawyers allege that her unarmed son was shot from behind and then, when he fell to his knees, was shot in the back of the head. (The police say they mistakenly thought he had been armed.) On Sunday night, another man, Joel Mathew Acevedo, was shot and killed after he fired at an officer in a separate incident.
 
In total, five people have died in police shootings in Anaheim this year. On Tuesday, the city council decided to ask the FBI to investigate the last two killings. As the two victims were Latino, many in the city’s Latino community have voiced concern that the police are particularly brutal toward people of their ethnicity. Fifty-three percent of Anaheim's 340,000 residents are Latino.
 
At least 24 people were arrested and six injured in Tuesday night’s clashes. Those injured included three protesters, two journalists and a police officer. Police managed to disperse the crowd gathered near Anaheim’s city hall late Tuesday after shooting “less-than-lethal” projectiles into it.
 
This video was live-streamed by our Observer in Anaheim on Tuesday night. In the first few minutes of the half-hour clip, the police shoot projecticles at the protesters.
Contributors

“Here’s a group of people upset about police brutality, and what do the police do? They fire at them”

Tim Pool works in the technology sector in Los Angeles. He live-streamed Tuesday night’s clashes in Anaheim. He recently spent time living in New York City, where he live-streamed the Occupy Wall Street protests last year as well as protests over the death of Trayvon Martin this spring. He is active under the Twitter handle @timcast.
 
Tensions had slowly been escalating all afternoon, so by the time I arrived on the scene at about 8 p.m., anger was boiling over. A couple hundred protesters, the majority of them Latino, were facing off against a similar number of policemen wearing full riot gear. They were not just from Anaheim; there were policemen from many other cities around the county.
 
The police announced that the crowd had to disperse, or those gathered would face arrest. Just minutes later, without warning, the police started shooting with all kinds of what they call “less than lethal” weapons – they shot pepper balls [which release pepper spray to irritate the eyes], bean bags, and rubber bullets. I saw a teenage girl with three hits to her leg, probably from bean bags. Her skin had just been annihilated from the impact. She couldn’t walk, and had to be carried away. Some people ran away; some threw rocks and bottles. A few fires were lit.
 
What was shocking is that there were lots of young kids out there too – some were 10, 11, maybe 12. Not only this, but there were babies in strollers. I saw one woman with a baby stroller, and in the stroller’s side pockets, she had put rocks, apparently to throw at the police.
 
“The police didn’t fire any warning shots”
 
I have been to many protests before where the police fire various “less-than-lethal” weapons on the crowd. But usually, they announce that they’re going to do this. Here, there was no announcement. Nor did they fire any warning shots. I found the police in Anaheim unprofessional and uncoordinated, stoking anger rather than trying to calm people down. I saw them arrest a guy who was trying to explain that he was just grocery shopping, that he wasn’t part of the protest. They also arrested these kids with skateboards that were just watching, and others that seemed to just be crossing the street. It seemed like they grabbed whoever was there.
 
“Unless they change their tactics, there’s little doubt in my mind that there will be more protests”
 
At one point, a police car screeched up to me, and a police officer jumped out and aimed a rifle at me. He was only a few metres away. Thankfully I had a press pass with me, and quickly brandished it in the air. [Several reporters reported being shot at by police on Tuesday evening].
 
This protest was clearly spontaneous; I only saw a couple of signs. These were not activists; they were outraged Anaheim residents. So, we’ve got a group of people upset about police brutality, and what do the police do? They fire at them. There’s little doubt in my mind that if the police don’t change their tactics, there will be more protests ahead.
 
WARNING: The following video contains explicit language.
 
In this video, youth can be heard yelling "Justice!" and "F--- the police!" at police officers in full riot gear.

Comments

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They're as Gung Ho as ours. But we do get up close and personal - as the Brazilian lad found to his cost

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