Revolution #279, September 2, 2012

Anaheim Press Conference Fights Back Against Police Murders and Raids

From a reader:

On August 17, a week after a vicious and retaliatory Anaheim, California, police raid on the Anna Drive community, where they executed Manuel Diaz, a press conference was held at the site where he was murdered to condemn the Anaheim police shootings of Manuel Diaz, Joel Acevedo and others, to call for the arrest of the police who killed Manuel Diaz, to call for the immediate release of all those arrested in the raid, to call for dropping the charges against all those arrested during the protests, and to expose the retaliation against community members by the APD, the feds, and other police agencies.

A wide-range of community members and political activists participated in and spoke at the press conference. Participants included: Genevieve Huizar, mother of Manuel Diaz, Theresa Smith (Anaheim Cruzaders, mother of Caesar Cruz, killed by APD on Dec. 11 2009), Sonia Hernandez (sister of 21-year-old Martin A. Hernandez—killed by APD on March 6, 2012), Albert Castillo (Chicanos Unidos), Keith James (Stop Mass Incarceration Network), Roger Dittmann (Physics Professor Emeritus Cal State Fullerton and past President of Unitarian Universalists of Orange County), and a statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Los Angeles Branch was read by a person from Revolution Books.

The press release for the press conference upheld "the righteous protests that have occurred since the two murders, which have included people from inside and outside Anaheim, and have taken place in other U.S. cities as well." It called for more protest actions to take place. It took on how "the 'gang member' label has now become justification for law enforcement to demonize, criminalize and execute youth of color; especially in Anaheim—where the APD have killed five people since January 1." It laid out how "'Gang member' and 'street gang' is now a cover to wage war on impoverished mainly Latino neighborhoods and to justify outright murder of innocent young men and the incarceration of them in massive numbers."

The press conference was covered by radio, TV, newspapers, and online news. The Orange County Register ran an article and posted photos online. NBC News had online coverage. A video of Genevieve Huizar's statement was posted on line by the news media. The press conference was described by the Orange County Register that "the mother of Manuel Diaz—joined by activists and relatives of others killed in officer-involved shootings—met a throng of reporters near Anna Drive, where Diaz was shot by police on July 21." (See the accompanying sidebar on quotes from the press conference.)

The August 10 raid included more than 100 police from the Anaheim, Orange, Placentia, Buena Park, Tustin, Garden Grove, Fullerton, Santa Ana, and Irvine Police Departments, together with the Orange County regional gang task force and federal agents from ATF, DEA, and the ICE Homeland Security Investigations, broke down doors, threw flashbangs, and woke people up with rifles to their faces. Moms, families, and little kids were terrorized. Young people in a nearby neighborhood said cops rappelled down ropes onto rooftops from two helicopters. 33 people were arrested.

People in the neighborhood had their own version on why this happened. "They're trying to make it look like they killed Manuel for a good reason," outraged residents said the next day. The raid was "a perfect cover-up" for the murder, one youth said. "It always happens like this." People angrily refuted the police story that the raid was about gangs, drugs, guns, and money.

"They got all the guys," a resident said. "People on Anna Drive shined a spotlight on the APD, so now they retaliate. They didn't expect this community to do this." "We were asking for justice," said a high school student. "We had the courage to go to City Hall—that made them more mad."

A young woman told how one of the targeted young men was helping a friend with young children to start her car that morning. Suddenly they were surrounded by police cars and a helicopter. The young man was knocked to the ground and then tazed. When the woman he was helping got upset, the cops told her to shut up, or they'd arrest her and take her kids.

The cops gave the impression that they had confiscated weapons and drugs from the raid by putting on a table, after the raid, 40 mainly "assault-style" weapons and 12 pounds of methamphetamine. Then it came out, based on the cops own confession, that only one gun was seized in the raid while all the others had been purchased by informants and undercovers over the course of a year. One pound of meth was purchased and 10 pounds seized during operations prior to August 12.

One resident put it this way: "It's about time that people stood up and said 'Ya Basta!' Think about the unjustified police brutality to countless families. It's time for all those who have been afraid to speak on it…. The people want justice. This raid is no good! It's a way for the police to justify their crimes."

The press conference exposed all the police lies about the raid and expressed the righteous anger of people in the community and activists supporting them, and pointed the way forward to continue this fight.

The people in the community along with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network is planning a "Bear Witness" program in Anaheim so that people who live in Anaheim's mainly Latino, 'flatlands' next to Disneyland will have a platform to tell their stories and paint a picture of the harassment, brutality, and terror they face daily from the APD.

Plans are also being made in the community to unite with people around the nation on September 13 to blow the whistle on mass incarceration, racial profiling, and police brutality and murder that is taking place in Anaheim and other cities across the country.

* * * * *

Quotes from the Anaheim Press Conference

Albert Castillo of Chicanos Unidos:

"What got us upset was having Manuel Diaz' picture on the wanted list on last Friday. That was uncalled for! …completely wrong."

"We demand that these young men not only be released but they also bring out what they got charged for."

"These guns! 40 guns! They were not found here on Anna Drive… this is the PR that the police always use to make these young men look like criminals."

"You're calling gang members terrorists, it's the police—as you can see behind me, these are the pictures that they use, the emblems that they use." (He displayed pictures of the logos of OC gang investigators.) "The Grim Reaper—that's one of their emblems here they used to identify themselves. Another one here of the gang investigators here, and of course the Orange County Gang Investigators Association. Death. These are their emblems right here. Now who are the terrorists?"

"So many murders have happened here that Anaheim today is ‘ground zero' for police murder and brutality."

Sonia Hernandez (sister of 21-year-old Martin A. Hernandez—killed by APD on March 6, 2012):

"My brother is Martin Angel Hernandez… He was shot 5 months ago by Anaheim Police Department."

"I wanted to come to support Genevieve Huizar because I know my mom, she's devastated as well. I know Manuel didn't deserve to die this way, and my brother didn't deserve to die that way as well. There needs to be a change. And there is going to be a change…."

Theresa Smith, mother of Caesar Cruz, who was killed by Anaheim PD on Dec 11, 2009:

"I've been fighting for justice for almost 3 years… We're still in the process of fighting…"

"I'm here to support Manuel's mother Mrs. Huizar. I know the pain that she's feeling right now."

"I'm grateful that finally there's some attention what has been going on for years in Anaheim. It needs to be looked into…."

Genevieve Huizar, Manuel Diaz's mother:

"…Tomorrow marks 30 days from when my son Manuel Angel Diaz was shot and executed. The first bullet to his lower back, he fell to his knees. That was not good enough to have him down. The second bullet to the back of his head after Manuel was down on the ground bleeding, unconscious. They rolled him over like an animal and they handcuffed him. Where's the compassion? Where's the humanity? If this was your son gunned down in cold blood. I am here with very mixed emotions. I am here today to ask for justice.… And for the Joey Acevedo family, we are in the biggest battle of our lives. We want justice."

"I want the officer who killed Manuel arrested and prosecuted for his murder.… This officer is walking free while young men who protested the execution are in jail. They stood up against the execution of their friend. All these boys are my sons now. The cop should be in jail and the boys the young men, if there were no criminal things, they should be released…."

"We want the protests to continue. Thank you New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, everyone who protested for my son. I thank you from my heart."

"People are saying they want healing, but there's no healing without justice. Justice for Manuel! Justice for Joel Acevedo. Justice for the people killed by the Anaheim police department…."

Roger Dittmann, past president of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Orange County:

"…police murder and violence is a systemic problem that needs a systemic solution."


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