Another day of protest in Anaheim as people took to the streets. Another message sent to the city of Anaheim that the people want justice and will fight for it.
The events yesterday started around 3:30 in the afternoon at the doors of City Hall in Anaheim as the people were refused entry to the city council meeting that was to take place at 4 PM. As officers blocked the entryways to the meeting, more and more people gathered demanding to be let in to the meeting and demanding justice for the people who have been shot and killed by the Anaheim police.
As the people’s chants of “No justice, no peace!” grew louder, officers suited up in riot gear arrived on the scene. Some stood still with their hands on their firearms, others paced around holding rubber bullet guns, making it obvious that the people were not going to be let in the council meeting.
Protesters gathered at the sidewalk area, and then in the street where they began their peaceful march through the streets of Anaheim, making it loud and clear what they wanted, justice. For hours the people of Anaheim marched through the streets. People from different neighborhoods, entire families, children holding signs that read, “A.P.D. is a gang”, people on wheelchairs, and the families of the victims who have been shot and killed by the Anaheim police all marched in unity and solidarity for the same cause.
The march made its first major stop at the Anaheim police station, place where Theresa Smith has been protesting every Sunday afternoon ever since her son Cesar Cruz was killed by the Anaheim police in 2009. The people then circled back and marched to City Hall where they encountered a multitude of police officers, dressed in riot gear, from the Fullerton, Orange, Brea, Tustin, Placentia and Westminster departments who had circled the block around the Civic Center.
The crowd grew louder and louder, the chants were clear, and some of the officers began to retreat. As police vehicles began leaving the scene, people continued marching onto Anaheim Blvd towards Broadway St. As they continued marching onto smaller neighborhoods, some people left their homes and joined the march. Together, they continued the march into Guinida Ln, where Joel Mathew Acevedo was also shot and killed by the Anaheim police last Sunday.
As the people continued onto Midway Dr towards Anaheim Blvd, a line of police officers and vehicles blocked the exit, stating they had to “find another way out”. The people were forced to turn back and find another way out, but only to be blocked by more officers in every direction. The group’s only escape was to make a dash towards Ball Rd near Harbor Blvd while the officers were busy dealing with a smaller group of people. Shots could already be heard at a distance as the larger group decided to keep marching north on Harbor Blvd.
Just before 9 PM, the march was at Harbor Blvd and Broadway St, moving back towards City Hall. At the time most people were arriving at the area, hundreds of police officers started shooting at the crowd. Many scattered throughout the smaller streets and only a few remained to face the flying rubber bullets.
Today, most of the mainstream media outlets present its viewers re-runs of four-second clips of windows being broken, fires being lit, protesters “attacking” police cars, and “rioters” throwing rocks at police officers. Too few speak of the peaceful march that took place for four hours, too few speak of the injustice, and too few speak of the constant harassment the community still faces every day by the police.
Angel Juarez (Olin) from Santa Ana Copwatch shared some thoughts on the night Anaheim made it clear what they are fighting for:
"This was no riot. This was an uprising. Reactionaries and those who have the privilege to reap the benefits of this fucked up system will say that this was not necessary and that this makes the community look bad. But the fact of the matter is that the hood doesn't have many real options that give real solutions. We've protested. We've made demands. We've talked with politicians. We went to the forum that the police held at the library. We’ve had peace marches. What has that led to? What have these things given us besides hoops for career activists to jump through? Two more young brown men dead.
What I saw on the streets of Anaheim tonight was beautiful. I saw a community’s lifetime of submissiveness turn into a moment of defiance. I saw Disneyland’s happy fantasy broken apart by our harsh reality. I saw the cops being chased out by the hood. The people for a moment had a taste of freedom and true self-empowerment. The deaths of Martin, Manuel, Joel and the countless others weren’t in vain but have led to this experience: an experience that can’t be forgotten and can only lead to it being sought after."