The City of Anaheim is being gripped by protesters seething with anger. The disquiet began with a police shooting but has grown over the past weeks as once-hidden problems have come to the surface. Now, hundreds of protesters have been taking to the street virtually every day to protest perceived inequities in the city.
While the city’s problems didn’t begin when police shot and killed a 21-year old Latino on July 21, it may have served as a tipping point. Already, the ACLU had filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s At-Large voting structure that left Latinos – who comprise more than 50 percent o the population – absent from leadership roles in city government. As a result, some are claiming, that leaves the heavily Latino parts of the city without equal services. For instance, there are 7.7 parks per 50,000 people in Latino areas, versus 11.6 parks per 50,000 in the predominately Caucasian regions.
While mostly peaceful, the protests have been marred by violence and vandalism. Dumpsters have been set on fire and property damaged. Police have used bean bags and pepper balls. In one case, a police dog broke away from its handler and charged into the crowd, biting one person.
Relations between the city government and parts of its minority population have long been strained, but had been thought to be on the mend in the last decade.
From the Orange County Register:
This was the Anaheim that the world saw in recent weeks: Protesters streaming by the hundreds down city streets. Police officers dressed in black-padded body armor wielding batons and beanbag shotguns. Store windows shattered. Dumpsters on fire.
The protests laid bare years of growing resentment and deep division in a city best known as the home of the Happiest Place on Earth. They tapped into anger over politics and power, over crime and police – over the very direction of Orange County’s biggest city.
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