Anaheim Protests Turning Into Near-Riot As Anger Over Police Shootings Grows

Anaheim protests grew more violent Tuesday as residents and community activists angry over a series of police shootings began throwing rocks at officers and setting fires in the city.

The protests took place both on the city’s streets and at City Hall, with protesters at one point throwing a chair through the window of a Starbucks, Reuters reported.

The clashes Tuesday night had intensified from a series of protests last weekend when Anaheim police shot and killed suspects in separate incidents. In the first incident on Saturday officers shot and killed 25-year-old Manuel Angel Diaz, who ran from officers.

The Diaz shooting created tension in the man’s neighborhood, with police using pepper balls to disperse a crowd of 100 people who threw rocks and bottles at officers. A police dog was also released into the group, attacking a woman holding a young child.

In another incident on Sunday police killed 21-year-old Joel Mathew Acevedo. He too was chased by police and reportedly fired at them before officers returned fire and killed the man.

The two officers involved in the incidents were placed on administrative leave, and Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait called for the state attorney general and U.S. attorney’s office to conduct a probe of police actions. The state’s League of United Latin American Citizens also requested that the FBI also look into Diaz’s death and events that followed, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“We feel there are unanswered issues,” league director Benny Diaz, who is no relation to the victim, told The Times. “We feel this is very important to conduct a thorough and effective investigation of the whole police force in Anaheim.”

In total Anaheim police have killed five people this year.

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Now reaching the fourth day of protests, the rising tensions led Anaheim police to declare an unlawful assembly and fire less-than-lethal projectiles into angry crowds near city hall, the Los Angeles Times reported. The near-riot spilled over to other parts of the city, with protesters throwing rocks at officers at Santa Ana Street and Anaheim Boulevard and lighting fires in weeds and trash bins.

A City Council meeting Tuesday also drew more protests, with a group of people storming the council’s chambers as it discussed the shootings and voted to ask the U.S. attorney’s office to investigate. Five people were arrested in the incident, and rocks thrown by protesters hit Anaheim police officers and a reporter for the Orange County Reporter, Anaheim police Sgt. Robert Dunn told the Los Angeles Times.

Anaheim itself is a city of contrasts, the Associated Press pointed out. The city 25 miles from Los Angeles has both upscale, hilltop homes and packed, gritty apartment complexes. Its growing Hispanic community now represents 53 percent of its population.

The Anaheim protests have played out live on the Twitter feeds and Livestream videos of many of the protesters. They tweeted images of bloodied heads and arms from where officers fired less-than-lethal projectiles into the crowed and showed pictures of garbage cans set on fire.