A group of about 30 people gathered in front of the Anaheim Police Department Monday evening, to protest the recent wave of police killings in the city’s working-class neighborhoods.
The demonstration was one of hundreds of rallies organized across the U.S. in the National Day of Against Police Brutality; better known in activists circles as 022 (Oct. 22).
After a brief demonstration at the APD, the protesters took to the streets and started marching west on Santa Ana St. towards Betsy Ross School, where OCCCO (Orange County Congregation Community Organization) was to host a city council candidates’ debate.
Police officers on motorcycles followed the protesters as they marched and threatened them with arrest if they didn’t get on the sidewalk. Their warnings were drowned in the chants of: “La migra, la policía, la misma porquería!” (“ICE and the police, are the same shit!”), and the loud drumming of the demonstrators, who kept on marching undisturbed.
When the group arrived at the place where the debate was to be held, some of the organizers said the questions for the candidates had already been arranged and there was no time for more queries. However, after some negotiations, the protesters were able to make some questions regarding the recent cases of police brutality and the MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) the Anaheim Police Department signed with ICE in the 90s, which clearly made uncomfortable some of the candidates.
As usual, police brutality apologists blamed the “gang infested” neighborhoods for incidents like the one in Anna Drive last July. “Unfortunately, some of our neighborhoods have become gang infested and it takes strong law enforcement to root out these problems.” Said candidate, and former police officer, Steve Chavez Lodge.
Candidate John Leos, endorsed by the OC Labor Federation, said he supports the establishment of a citizens police review board, but he had the nerve to remind us that, in a city where police officers kill with impunity, we “need to make sure that our police officers’ rights are not violated…” when subjected to an investigation.
At the end of the debate, TRP asked Chavez Lodge about his documented record of police brutality at the Santa Ana Police Department, to which he responded, “If you look at the investigations that were done, I was not found at fault. Anybody can sue for anything…”
An article by the LA Times, however, contradicts Lodge’s story. According to the piece writen by Catherine Gewertz, dated Sept. 29, 1990, a federal jury awarded $612,000 to Hossein Farahini, an Iranian immigrant, after finding that “A Santa Ana police officer used excessive force by throwing him to the ground and beating him with a baton.” It goes on to say that “The panel assessed $112,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages against Officer Steven Lodge and the city of Santa Ana. A forensic pathologist testified that Farahani's head injury appeared to have been made by a cylindrical object such as a police baton, attorneys said, but Parker (Lodge’s attorney) said Lodge denies striking Farahani with his baton, and suggested it was possible that Farahani hit his head on the officer's boot during the struggle, or on the bars welded to the body of Lodge's motorcycle.”
What did Farahini do to deserve the beating? Jaywalking, fleeing and, due to his limited English, failing to comprehend Lodge’s orders upon being stopped.
- Gewertz, Catherine. “Jaywalker Gets $612,000 for Officer's Use of Excessive Force.” LA Times, [Los Angeles, CA] 29 Sept. 1990. 23 Oct. 2012.