Last Tuesday evening during the city council meeting, Anaheim Chief of police, John Welter and his department came under harsh criticism by Anaheim residents after the airing by Al Jazeera of “Anaheim: A Tale of Two Cities”, a documentary recounting the riots of last summer which chronicles the unrest in the city provoked by a series of civilian deaths at the hands of the police.
Besides featuring organic intellectuals and organizers with their typical non-profit/academic analysis of relationships of power etcetera, the film provides a glimpse of the inner workings of the APD through some questionable comments made by Chief Welter and Sgt. Juan Reveles, head of the Gang Unit.
Welter detached himself from the responsibility of having deployed hordes of militarized police officers onto the streets of Anaheim on July 29th of this year, to contain protesters by placing the liability on one of his lieutenants who according to him, was responsible for the operation. “That was entirely inappropriate. When I saw the newspaper the next day and opened it up and saw a picture of an armored vehicle traveling down Anna Drive, with SWAT people hanging on the outside with fully automatic weapons, I mean, I was shocked as well.” Said Welter to the Al Jazeera reporter.
Sgt. Juan Reveles, on the other hand, admitted to using racial profiling when dealing with gangs through the implementation of a gang injunction against “Latino” and “Hispanic” youth. “What good is it for me to stop this white kid that looks like a skater? Not because of his race, because I know what our gangs are… What else can I do?” Stated Reveles.
These and other similar declarations by high-ranking APD officers were confronted and harshly criticized during public comments session by relatives of recent police brutality victims who attended last Tuesday’s council meeting.
Public video of the meeting shows Donna Castro, Joel Acevedo’s mother, welcoming newly sworn-in councilmember Jordan Bradman and Lucille Kring and telling how she has been harassed and threatened by Anaheim police officers after the killing of his son last summer. “The police have threatened me, certain officers, and they’re still on duty.” Said Castro.
Renee Balenti and Theresa Kelly called into question the capacity of chief Welter to control and hold accountable his police officers and called for his resignation.
“What disturbs me greatly is the fact that he said that he was unaware of this and that his lieutenant ok’d it and that he had held his lieutenant accountable for this. That is unacceptable. What else is going on with your lieutenants that you do not know about; that you do not agree with?” Balenti asked Chief Welter who was sitting among the attendees, right behind the public comments podium. “It is evident that the chief of police and his officers are not in the same page. He is not in control of his officers. We need Chief Welter out. We need Chief Welter out and we don’t want him replaced with Craig Hunter. We need somebody new in.” she continued.
“If you want to rebuild the trust, I’ve told you a thousand times, you need to get out to the community. Why don’t you one Friday night or Saturday night come down to the neighborhood?” Theresa Kelly urged the councilmembers. “…And then you’ll have a little bit more of an idea of all the corruption and the harassment and the threats that these kids and these family members receive on a daily basis… The change has to come without the fear that the community has against the police department. That’s where the change needs to start.” She concluded.
The Rebel Press contacted APD Public Information Officer, Sgt. Bob Dunn, and requested the name of the supposed lieutenant who ordered the deployment of the militarized police on July 29th. Sgt. Dunn said he’s been disciplined but refused to give his name because “it’s a matter of internal discipline” and there’s no way of obtaining such information. Not even through a FOIA request, according to him.