Last Saturday night, Anaheim police shot and killed unarmed 25-year-old gang member Manuel Angel Diaz. Diaz had been hanging around the neighborhood with a stolen SUV; he ran from police, and was shot. The police union says that Diaz reached for his waistband, and other reports suggest that Diaz threw an object – possibly drugs – on the roof of a nearby building as he ran.
Now, Anaheim residents in high-crime areas are rioting against police, setting objects ablaze and throwing bottles at the cops. And they’re claiming that Anaheim police are racist, too. “The police are nothing but murderers,” said Diaz’s niece. “Killing an innocent person, that’s not right.” David Rodriguez, who according to local reports “had his run-ins with police,” remarked, “They see a Mexican, bald headed driving down the street, first thing they do – boom – pull you over. For what reason? Cause you are bald headed, look like a Mexican … you a gang member right away.” Anaheim is 53 percent Hispanic.
There was a second police shooting of a gang member Sunday night. In that incident, the gang member opened fire on police officers.
Anaheim has a significant gang problem – a problem that has been exacerbated in recent years. There are over 1,800 gang members in the area, representing 35 gangs. According to the Orange County Register, “The city’s violent crime rate, which had trended downward since the early ’90s, unexpectedly increased by 10 percent in 2011, FBI statistics show. And current department statistics for the first half of 2012 indicate that violent crimes in Anaheim such as homicides and aggravated assaults are on track to match last year’s numbers.” The city already has standing injunctions regarding dress and loitering in an attempt to combat the gang problem.