Anaheim's Tragic Kingdom

Two officer-involved killings ignite the city's long, hot summer that has been years in the making

There's already a movement of sorts toward a more substantial, productive attack. A lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the city on behalf of Los Amigos, the longtime Latino grassroots group, seeks to end at-large elections in favor of a ward system, in the idea that better representation will lead to a better City Council and, by virtue, a better city. (I don't agree with its Latino-centric argument, but that's another column.) The fine nonprofit Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development has highlighted the cancer within City Hall through studies. Mayor Tom Tait asked for California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the U.S. Attorney General's office to conduct an independent investigation not only of the deaths of Diaz and Acevedo, but also of the police department as a whole.

And there is precedent in Anaheim for people power. In 1978, Anaheim police broke up a football game in Little People's Park; when community members complained, officers brutalized them. The ensuing furor led to police reforms, an Orange County grand jury investigation and the creation of Los Amigos. But activists didn't take over City Hall then because it was somewhat receptive to their concerns. Now, after a rambunctious City Council meeting on July 24 attended by hundreds and protests outside by more than 1,000, let's hope city leaders realize the masses are seething and reform themselves. Otherwise, we might see an Anaheim that personifies an old French curse wishing the cursed be like a chandelier: hanging by day, burning by night.

Lalo Alcaraz

This article appeared in print as "The Tragic Kingdom: Two officer-involved killings ignite Anaheim's long, hot summer that has been years in the making."

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