Thursday, July 26, 2012

Social Unrest Exposes Long-Simmering Ethnic Divisions in Anaheim

Anaheim's a large urban area with a huge minority population, especially Latino (53 percent of the population) --- it's like Santa Ana, except you've got the "happiest place on Earth" bringing in $ billions of taxable revenue every year, and providing postcard images of a resort nirvana at the center of the O.C.

But last weekend's shootings have brought ethnic tensions to a head. The Los Angeles Times reports, "Protests reflect deep divisions in Anaheim":

In a city best known for Disneyland, the Angels and the Ducks, the fatal police shootings of two Latino men over the weekend have uncorked days of furious, sometimes violent protests.

The unrest has exposed long-simmering divisions in Anaheim between the glitz of Disney and professional sports and the struggles in some of the less prosperous Latino neighborhoods in Orange County's largest city.

Of the city's estimated 340,000 residents, 53% are Latino, and the protests have occurred in the city's flatlands, where many of those residents live. Most City Council members hail from the more affluent Anaheim Hills neighborhood to the east. The American Civil Liberties Union recently filed suit claiming the current at-large system of electing the council leaves Latinos poorly represented. The suit said that Anaheim has had only three Latino council members in its history.

The extent of the ethnic discord is hard to assess, as are accusations from some protesters that the Anaheim Police Department mistreats nonwhite residents. City leaders have asked federal and state officials to conduct independent examinations of the shootings and deny that the police harass Latino residents.

Rusty Kennedy, executive director of Orange County Human Relations, said anger over the weekend shootings reflects wider woes in Anaheim's poorest communities, which suffer from unemployment, overcrowding and gang activity. "It's a hot summer, school's out, and frustrations from the economy are certainly being felt," Kennedy said. "There are really good families in these neighborhoods that are just struggling to survive. They have fears their child will get in between the gang members and police."
Continue reading.

It's hard to say for sure, but at least in the first killing, of "Stomper" Diaz, the cops may have overreacted. Diaz was unarmed and shot twice, the second time in the head after he'd already fallen to his knees. The left is getting up in arms about this, because it gives them agenda items to expand social welfare programs and "diversify" the police departments. See Firedoglake, "Four Days of Protests in Anaheim Against Police Brutality of Hispanic Population." And at communist Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!, "Anaheim Police Brutality Sparks Outrage After 2 Latinos Shot Dead and Demonstrators Attacked." Gustavo Arellano, the radical editor of the O.C. Weekly, is interviewed at the piece. It's compelling, and I think he's right about how citizen journalists can debunk the police department's narrative. The department's call to buy citizens' videos of the riots is especially underhanded. Watch it.

UPDATE: Linked at Instapundit. Thanks!