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Anaheim mayor meets with residents at site of fatal police shooting

August 1, 2012 |  5:57 am

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait met Tuesday with residents at the scene of a fatal police shooting that sparked a recent series of protests and calls for change in Orange County's largest city.

A few protesters and television crews gathered near the apartment on North Anna Drive, prompting some residents wearing orange safety vests to escort Tait as he walked to his car, KTLA reported.

The mayor declined to comment after the meeting, but Councilwoman Lorri Galloway said they hoped that by coming to the "heart of the community where all this began," progress could be made.

"Today we have a broken community," she told the television station. "Today we have healing that has to start now. And that's why we're here."

Anaheim resident Yesenia Rojas said she hoped the conversation would show the mayor "the sad faces in this community ... the afraid faces that they fail to see and hear when officers come to this neighborhood."

Two men were fatally shot by Anaheim police this month: Manuel Diaz, 25, on July 21 and Joel Acevedo, 21, the next day. Authorities said Diaz, who was unarmed, was avoiding arrest and that Acevedo had fired at officers during a foot chase.

A third officer-involved shooting Friday -- police opened fire on a burglary suspect who was not hurt -- was the city's seventh such incident this year, authorities said, five of which have been fatal. Anaheim had four officer-involved shootings in 2011.

Anaheim has seen a series of protests following Diaz's death, including some that turned violent. Tait has asked the FBI and state attorney general's office to investigate the incidents; community groups have made similar requests.

The rallies have also highlighted long-standing tensions in the city, which some residents say result from a Latino community that feels marginalized. On Tuesday, community members called on the City Council to address a lack of elected Latino representation by moving to a district-style election system rather than the current at-large process.

The City Council is considering a Nov. 6 ballot measure that would require four of the five council members to be elected by district. Currently, the majority of the council members live in Anaheim Hills, an affluent enclave that is largely separated from the rest of the city.

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-- Kate Mather and Nicole Santa Cruz

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