The second anniversaries of the killings of Manuel Angel Diaz and Joel Acevedo by Anaheim police is next week. The deaths, of course, led to riots that captured international media attention. Families of Acevedo, Diaz, and others killed by Anaheim PD will hold a rally and protest this Saturday to remember their loved ones.
Convened by the Young Survivors Legacy Support Network and supported by community organizations, the day's actions begin noontime at Stoddard Park. Activists are calling for an end of special privileges afforded by California's Peace Officers Bill of Rights. "This bill of rights protects them from ever being held accountable," says Genevieve Huizar, mother of Manuel Diaz. "It needs to be, if not abolished, revised."
The kick-off rally is set to feature speakers from various organizations and music. Family members are going to speak about their lost loved ones. A protest march headed… somewhere will follow afterward. "The main reason of keeping all this in the front line is so that it doesn't happen again," Huizar says. But others, perhaps, are quickly wanting to forget. The city delivered a letter to her stating its intention to take down the memorial where her son was killed on Anna Drive, citing a vandalism incident by a rival gang earlier this year reported by the Weekly.
"It was vandalized in March, why did the city wait until July to deliver the letter?" Huizar asks. "The community does not want it to be taken down." The city gave the grieving mother an extension until the end of the month–but that won't wipe the memory away, according to Huizar. "It will never be normal again not when people have the memory of someone being shot to death in broad daylight with children around."
The Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office cleared Anaheim police officer Nick Bennallack in the fatal shooting of Diaz. The agency also declined to press charges against Kelly Phillips for Acevedo. Outside of investigations, not enough has changed inside Anaheim in the eyes of Joel's mother, Donna Acevedo.
"There's been some small reforms, but not enough," says Acevedo, who's running for Anaheim city council this year. "We've been given fake police oversight with no teeth. None of the families have seen justice. Our working-class communities are still treated like second class citizens."
For Huizar, memories of her son persist two years later. "I always see his same smile that he always used to give," she says. "I miss his smile, I miss his joking, I miss his dancing, I miss his impersonating Jim Carrey. I miss everything about him."
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2