The Happiest Memorial to a Police Shooting Victim on Earth
The following is a report by the Weekly's new news fellow, Spencer Kornhaber, who is so new he does not yet have a sign-in for this blog, thus Coker's name shows:
Disneyland's Main Street USA is an orgy of good-ole'-days Americana -- penny arcades, horse-drawn carriages, unbelievably enormous piles of ice cream -- so maybe this new proposal from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the parents of a slain Anaheim resident isn't so crazy. They want Disney to install a statue memorializing 20-year-old Julian Alexander, an innocent black man mistakenly shot to death by Anaheim cops last October.
A fatal police shooting possibly motivated by race: as American as Splash Mountain, right?
Early in the morning of Oct. 28, Anaheim police on the trail of suspected robbers shot Alexander when he emerged from his house to investigate noise outside. Police ChiefJohn Welter
was quick to call the death a "tragic situation," but Alexander's family says authorities haven't done enough since then: The offending officer is still employed, and his identity hasn't been released.
"The family hasn't been given the kind of information it needs to understand what happened," says Richard Herman, the lawyer representing Alexander's mother and father in the civil rights violation and wrongful death suit filed against the city of Anaheim on Dec. 30. "You shoot an innocent bystander -- it don't make any sense."
(Regular readers asking whether this is the case that Johnnie Cochran's firm was involved in back in November: The answer is yes. A Cochran lawyer is representing Alexander's widow and the child born after his death, Herman says.)
In a statement sent to the Weekly, Alexander's parents -- Jerry Alexander and Sheryl Bell -- along with the Rev. Lacy Sykes of Cross Word Christian Church in Riverside and local chapters of Southern Christian Leadership Conference say they've asked Disney Chairman of the Board Robert Iger to place statue in remembrance of Alexander's death on Main Street in Disneyland. Why Disneyland?
"If you think about Anaheim, Anaheim is a company town," Herman says, "and the company is Disneyland."
He said a likeness of Alexander placed on a Disneyland bench would suffice, and they're willing to accept a memorial elsewhere in the Anaheim. But Main Street's the top choice. The press release says everyone involved hope their efforts make Alexander's death "the last use of lethal force in Orange County." That seems like an appropriately upbeat goal to pursue in the entryway of the Happiest Place on Earth, but maybe Fantasyland would be the best place to start.
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