Crime & Justice

Anaheim reacts to a week of protests after two deadly shootings

A protester marches through the streets of Anaheim to show outrage for the shooting death of Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, at Anaheim City Hall on July 24, 2012 in Anaheim.
A protester marches through the streets of Anaheim to show outrage for the shooting death of Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, at Anaheim City Hall on July 24, 2012 in Anaheim.
Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

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News of federal and independent investigations into the Anaheim police shooting of Manuel Diaz last Saturday may help ease tensions in the city.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait asks for patience as the investigations will take time to complete. But in the meantime, he said the city is working with community groups and neighborhood organizations to repair relationships.

"Obviously, we need a lot more community outreach," said Tait. "We have been doing it in the past, but we need to do more.”

Tait said he has met with members of Los Amigos of Orange County, including the group's president, Jose Moreno.

“I am relieved, frankly, that the federal government responded so quickly and swiftly to the call for support that our mayor requested of them and that I think many of us support," said Moreno.

Some Anaheim city council members say they’ve been on the streets talking with people. Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway said she has spent time in the neighborhood where the Diaz shooting happened.

"The community needs to start the healing process [now]," said Galloway. "They’re not going to wait for months and months and months, before this investigation is over. There will still be unrest and it will fester, it will continue to go on, unless we face this and face this head on.”

Her plan? An "immediate summit" of city stakeholders. But so far, no community meetings at a larger venue have been announced.

Moreno said while the mayor and councilwoman Galloway are reaching out, he hasn’t seen much outreach from the council’s other three members, which he calls "quite striking."

The independent investigation will be conducted by the same firm the city of Fullerton used for a review of police policies in that city after the Kelly Thomas beating.

In the aftermath of how Fullerton responded to Thomas’ death and the protests that followed, three city councilmembers were recalled, three police officers have lost their jobs and two face trial on charges in the case.

Ron Thomas said Anaheim city leaders need to have a much larger conversation with room for everyone who wants to speak, as Fullerton did, to ease tensions in that city after his son’s death.

"There was a lot of yelling and screaming in Fullerton," said Thomas. "And the City Council and the Mayor there and everybody else, they took it! But the people were able to get their messages across and be heard."

Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said the department remains focused on maintaining safety but will increase efforts at reaching out to the community.

Moreno, with Los Amigos, said the police shootings highlight deeper-rooted problems in Anaheim, a city that is 53 percent Latino.

He said that for too long, some neighborhoods have been neglected while the “resort” district gets a larger share of the pie.

“This is going to test our character as a city," said Moreno. "Do we want to keep this imbalance we have in the city with the way development has occurred, or are we going to work together to build all neighborhoods and not just invest in one?”