Last Tuesday marked 8 months since Martin Angel Hernandez, a 21-year-old member of the Wakefield community in Anaheim, was shot and killed by Anaheim Police. This morning, dozens of family members, friends, community members, and relatives of other victims of police-involved shootings gathered at Martin’s memorial to remember Martin and continue the fight for justice.
Some brought flowers to place on the memorial and others brought signs and banners to carry with them with messages reading, “No Justice, No Peace, Fuck The Police”, “Jail Killer Cops”, and “Police Are The Gang.” After gathering at Martin’s memorial, the group marched towards Haster St holding signs and chanting in unity, demanding justice for Martin Angel Hernandez, Emmanuel Diaz, Joel Acevedo, Roscoe Cambridge, David Raya, and all other victims who have been fatally shot by the police.
Many of the protesters marched around the busy Haster Street holding up their signs while cars passing by honked in support. As the chants grew louder, more Wakefield residents joined by shouting Martin’s name and their sentiments towards the police. 10-year-old Junior, one of the many young protestors, shared why he was out to protest:
“I’m here because this was my mom’s friend, and this is what made my mom sad, and I’m just tired of it – my mom is sad because of them, because of the police.”
Also present was Genevieve Huizar, mother of Emmanuel Diaz, who was also shot and killed by Anaheim police on July 21st of this year. She demands accountability on behalf of the Anaheim police department:
“We’re here for justice, we’re here for accountability. We’re here to say arrest the police that have shot these young men, our sons…we will continue to march, week after week, site after site – our sons were stolen!”
Teresa Kelly, who has also protested outside the Anaheim police station on Sundays, understands that there needs to be a change in the corrupted court system:
“They’ve gone too far, they’ve taken the law into their own hands – they’ve become judge, jury, and executioner. They have completely taken out what our court system was in place for, and enough is enough.”
At approximately 1 PM, two police vehicles stationed themselves on Haster St near East Wakefield Ave. When approached by some of the protestors, one officer claimed that someone had called them because they noticed “children running around the street.”
Martin Hernandez’s sister, Sonia, asked to police to leave because their presence brought fear to the community:
“We don’t want you guys here. I don’t feel right with you guys being here, I feel a little intimidated…We are having a peaceful protest and would like you guys to leave as soon as possible.”
One officer stated that they were only there because they were “concerned about the kids’ welfare being on the street.”
“Our kids are in danger by you being out here with that gun!” responded Renee Balenti, pointing at the two officers’ weapons. “They’re in danger with your colleague roaming around here that killed Martin Hernandez…we feel unsafe, our children are unsafe, they don’t feel safe with you being out here. We want you to leave!”
More officers quickly arrived on scene, but the protesters stood their ground and demanded them to leave. After discussing amongst themselves, the officers got in their vehicles and left.
Damion Ramirez, who’s best friend Michael Nida was fatally shot by Downey police in 2011, talked about the importance of protesting at the memorial sites:
“The Anaheim PD never came to harass us when we were at the police department protests because they can look out the window – they can laugh and make jokes in their air conditioned office, but when we start coming into the neighborhoods, we want to wake the neighborhoods up. In Anna Dr., where Manuel was killed, that neighborhood stood up for itself and really made an impact, it got the attention of the police…Unity is going to be the answer – we’ve got families from other neighborhoods and other victims out here today. We’ll be supporting each other in solidarity at every single memorial – it’s the power of the people that’s going to help keep this movement forward.”
The protest concluded with the different families meeting back at Martin’s memorial to say their farewells and to discuss future actions. Louisa Sanchez, one of the event’s organizers, explained that they are planning to rotate by visiting all the memorial sites.
There was a great sense of solidarity between the different families involved, exchanging contact information, moral support, and a great amount of motivation to keep pushing forward in this fight for justice. Even with the ongoing harassment, these families have kept true to their statement of, “Cops Say Get Back, We Say Fight Back!”