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Anaheim council calls special meeting after lawsuit, shootings

August 2, 2012 |  7:43 am

The Anaheim City Council will hold a special closed session Thursday afternoon to discuss "several important city matters," including a lawsuit seeking to change the city's electoral process to increase minority representation.

The council will take public comments before the 1 p.m. meeting at City Hall, according to a statement from the city.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in June, alleges the city's current at-large system has resulted in "vote dilution" for Latino residents. Though the majority of Anaheim's population is Latino, the lawsuit says, the City Council has only had three Latino members in city history.

The lawsuit also references a “history of discrimination in the city that still impacts the Latino community.”

The City Council is considering a Nov. 6 ballot measure that would amend the voting process by requiring that four of the five council members be elected by district. The majority of the current council lives in Anaheim Hills, an affluent enclave largely separated from the rest of the city.

Two fatal police shootings in July have highlighted longstanding tensions in the city, which some say result from a marginalized Latino community. The deaths of Manuel Diaz, 25, on July 21 and Joel Acevedo, 21, the next day have sparked a series of demonstrations in Orange County's largest city, some of which turned into violent clashes between protesters and police.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has asked the FBI and state attorney general's office to investigate the incidents; community groups have made similar requests.

The city statement announcing Thursday's special session said the City Council is "committed" to working with the community "to collaboratively move the city forward in a positive direction following the recent events."

Other items on the agenda for the Thursday session include a review of reports submitted directly to the council and a discussion with Anaheim Police Chief John Welter about the safety of public facilities.


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— Kate Mather

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Photo: Protesters gather outside of Anaheim City Hall on July 24 to protest the death of Manuel Diaz and other recent police shootings. The City Council meeting was closed by the fire marshal and police in riot gear were called to push back the crowd from the City Hall doors. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon / Los Angeles Times