Anaheim expecting more police-shooting protests this weekend
Anaheim is bracing for more demonstrations this weekend after police opened fire on a burglary suspect Friday, the third officer-involved shooting in the city in less than a week, though no one was apparently injured in the most recent incident.
Protests over police conduct have rocked Orange County’s largest city since July 21, when police fatally shot an unarmed man, Manuel Diaz, 25, who they said was evading arrest. A day later, police shot and killed Joel Acevedo, 21; police say he fired on officers during a foot chase.
Friday’s incident marked the seventh officer-involved shooting in Anaheim this year, five of which have been fatal. The city had four officer-involved shootings in 2011.
The shootings sparked four days of protest that culminated in a violent clash between 1,000 demonstrators and officers outside a packed City Council meeting Tuesday night. By the time it was over, 24 protesters had been arrested, 20 buildings damaged, seven people injured and dozens of less-than-lethal rounds had been fired to disperse the crowd, some of whom started fires in dumpsters and threw rocks at police.
Seeking to calm tensions, Mayor Tom Tait and other city officials met Friday with the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office staff and asked them to look into the recent shootings.
In a statement after the meeting, the FBI said it would review evidence and reports by the Orange County district attorney’s office to determine whether a federal investigation is warranted, though sources said that at this stage, the U.S. attorney’s office and Justice Department are not initiating a civil rights probe.
The latest shooting occurred about 3:15 a.m. Friday, when police responding to a burglary call shot at the suspects but apparently did not injure anyone.
After chasing a possible suspect on foot, officers approached a man in a black pickup whom they suspected was an accomplice, Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn said. The driver started the engine and accelerated toward one of the officers, who fired his weapon out of fear for his safety as the driver fled.
The incident came as demonstrators planned protests near Disneyland on Saturday and outside the Police Department on Sunday.
A group of about a dozen demonstrators gathered in Anaheim’s Stoddard Park late Friday, holding up signs at passing cars.
Louisa Sanchez, who held a poster with the names of men and the dates they were killed by Anaheim police over the years, said she wanted greater accountability and better communication from the department, especially in dealing with shootings that are unjustified.
“They need to get rid of the bad cops,” she said, identifying herself as a family friend of Acevedo. “They’re not all bad, but the ones that are make them all look bad. “
Activists nationwide have mobilized online to organize marches and demonstrations in support of Anaheim protesters. The anti-establishment group known as Anonymous posted Anaheim Police Chief John Welter’s address, phone number and other personal information on various Internet sites in protest over the shootings.
Meanwhile, Anaheim Councilwoman Gail Eastman found herself in hot water over remarks she made online celebrating the abrupt end to Tuesday’s City Council meeting because of the violent protests going on outside City Hall.
Eastman posted comments on a private neighborhood message board after the council failed to take up two ballot issues that had been proposed for the November ballot — one establishing City Council districts instead of citywide seats and another requiring voter approval of hotel bed tax breaks for developers.
“It’s finally quiet in the hood and I’ve had time to collect my thoughts,” Eastman wrote. “In spite of how it happened, it was a big time win for all who opposed seeing that placed on the November ballot,” adding later: “Tonight we celebrate a win with no shots fired!”
Eastman sent out an apology after her message was posted on local blogs and news sites.
Times staff writer Tony Barboza contributed to this report.
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