Anaheim protesters gather in front of police station
About 100 protesters gathered in front of the Anaheim Police Department on Sunday, the latest in a series of demonstrations staged in Orange County's largest city in the wake of two fatal police shootings.
Carrying signs that read "Stop the racist police" and "Don't shout we are peaceful," the crowd drew honks of support from cars driving down South Harbor Boulevard as a dozen police officers on horseback looked on.
George Olivio, a member of Occupy Orange County, said it was unclear what protesters planned to do later — whether they would march to City Hall, for instance, or Disneyland — but he said the goal of Sunday's demonstration was to remain peaceful. After a violent clash between protesters and police on Tuesday that resulted in damage to area businesses, he said there's a "bad situation" at hand.
"We don't want to see another Tuesday night," he said.
Rebecca Marcotte, 22, said she left her San Diego home at 9 a.m. to take part in Sunday's protest. She held a sign that read "Stop the racist police."
"It seems like situations like this happen over and over again where unarmed young people are shot," she said. "I see this as routine."
Sunday's demonstration marked the latest in a series of protests that began after Manuel Diaz, 25, was shot and killed by police on July 21. Authorities said the unarmed man was avoiding arrest.
The fatal officer-involved shooting was the first of two that occurred that weekend; a day after Diaz was killed, Anaheim police shot and killed Joel Acevedo, 21, who authorities say fired on officers during a foot chase.
A third officer-involved shooting Friday — police opened fire on a burglary suspect, who was not hurt — marked the city's seventh such shooting this year, five of which have been fatal. The city had four officer-involved shootings in all of 2011.
The string of shootings have sparked an outcry from residents, who have taken to the city’s streets several times in protest. On Tuesday, an estimated 1,000 protesters clashed with police outside a packed City Council meeting, prompting officers to use less-than-lethal rounds to disperse the crowd. By the night's end, authorities said 24 protesters had been arrested, 20 buildings damaged and seven people injured.
A group of protesters on Saturday were peaceful as they picketed in front of Disneyland and vowed to avoid more violence on Sunday.
Mayor Tom Tait, who has pledged a thorough investigation of the incidents, met Friday with the FBI and U.S. attorney's office staff and asked them to look into the shootings. The Orange County district attorney's office is already investigating.
— Matt Stevens in Anaheim and Kate Mather in Los Angeles
Photo: Protesters gather in front of the Anaheim Police Department on Sunday. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times