by Vickie Vértiz
On the afternoon of Monday, December 1, protesters gathered outside the Anaheim Police Department and City Hall to join the national day of demonstrations against police brutality. In August, a grand jury failed to indict police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri after he gunned down Michael Brown, an unarmed teen. Now, after another jury has failed to indict an officer in Staten Island for the murder of Eric Garner, it seems as if Americans are literally under the gun when it comes to police violence.
While the gathering in Anaheim was relatively small compared to other protests that totaled thousands of people nationally, the disruption of the daily police activities was clearly felt. The Orange County Register said that police estimated that about 30 protestors gathered by the department building, but the crowd grew over time, and through various social media reports and blogs, the crowd included close to 50 people by the end of the night. Some protestors were wearing masks or bandanas over their faces, practices that are common at these gatherings to protect their identities or in preparation of tear gas usage.
The Register noted that the protest was part of the Million March Against Police Brutality movement day of action happening across the country. Many protestors have been in their city streets since the grand jury decision was released in Ferguson, continuing into the recent holiday. On Black Friday, protestors staged die-ins at several malls in Saint Louis, Missouri closing several of them down to bring attention to police tactics. In September, Mother Jones reported statistics from the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the high incidence of deaths caused by police officers of African-American men.
Anaheim has its own history with undue violence by the police department. The most recent incident involved an unarmed man named Manuel Diaz was shot in the back and buttocks in February of this year by Anaheim police. According to reports from the OC Weekly, the department claimed that when Diaz ran from the police, it was considered an act of aggression.
At the Anaheim protest, which included people of all ages and backgrounds, protestors held signs that read, “Black Lives Matter,” “No justice, no peace,” and “Stop killing our loved ones.”
The Register reported that the protesters remained peaceful, as Lieutenant Bob Dunn of the Anaheim Police Department told the paper. Protesters remained in front of City Hall, the police department building, and on the sidewalk, unlike many other protests like in Los Angeles where people have blocked traffic at major downtown intersections and freeways such as the Harbor Freeway. The lieutenant added that in Anaheim, no street closures were needed.
The Anaheim police chief expressed worry about riots also breaking out there after the Ferguson decision, according to the OC Weekly. Two years ago, Anaheim had its own civil unrest after police office Nick Bennallack was cleared of charges after killing Manuel Diaz.
“We have additional personnel on standby should there be an issue, but it doesn’t seem to be going that way,” Dunn told the Register.