Anger over recent police shootings in Anaheim again turned violent Tuesday as protesters clashed with police in the neighborhood surrounding City Hall.
The violence started between 7 and 8 p.m. at the intersection of Anaheim Boulevard and Broadway, with protesters throwing rocks and bottles at police while a meeting of the Anaheim City Council commenced.
The confrontation escalated after a number of police vehicles turned a corner from Broadway onto Anaheim Boulevard. Protesters kicked at the police vehicles, broke a window with a glass bottle and threw rocks, traffic cones and shoes.
Protesters controlled the intersection at one point, and some were directing traffic as police officers maintained their distance. Eventually officers stormed the intersection, tackling at least one protester and firing pepper-spray pellets.
Later, protesters overtook a gas station at the corner of the intersection and police appeared to be outflanked. Protesters charged the police line, chanting “Sí se puede,” Spanish for “Yes we can.”
But officers quickly turned them back after again firing pepper-spray pellets and beanbags. One boy was reportedly struck in the head and taken away in an ambulance. A reporter with The Orange County Register was also struck in the head by a rock and taken to the hospital.
By 9:00 p.m., the protesters were pushed out of the intersection and into the neighborhoods and blocks around City Hall. As this was happening a trash dumpster was set ablaze and a Starbucks coffee house window was smashed.
Pockets of violence continued after 10:30 p.m., with a window broken at the City Hall building.
The protests were in response to the fatal police shooting on July 21 — the sixth so far this year — of 25-year-old Manuel Diaz, who was apparently unarmed and fleeing on foot from officers.
Diaz, who was known in the neighborhood as “Stomper,” was chased into a neighborhood alley and shot in the buttocks, then the back of the head, an unidentified girl who witnessed the killing from 20 ft. away told The Orange County Register.
Police officers shot another man to death on Sunday as the man, allegedly a gang member, fired at them, according to news reports.
Protesters say they were incensed as much by what they consider an unjustified attack on the crowd in the Anna Drive neighborhood following the shooting as they were by the shooting itself.
Latino boys and young men said their anger has been boiling for years toward a police department they say is racist against Latinos. “They [police] profile people by what they look like. They profile people by what they’re wearing,” said 14-year-old Jason Sandoval.
Police had made five arrests as of late Tuesday evening.
Earlier Tuesday, Mayor Tom Tait announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office would be investigating the shootings and the ensuing events. “The federal government has agreed to help us conduct an independent investigation to help us sort through what happened,” Tait said.
The City Council meeting ended prematurely as a result of the violence, and all council business was postponed to an undetermined date.