Young boy in front of Anaheim Police Department holding a sign that reads, “¿Quienes son los buenos ahora? (Who are the good ones now?)

It’s Sunday, and despite the fact that it was a hot day at 82 degrees, that didn’t stop the people of Anaheim from protesting in the name of Manuel Diaz at the Anaheim Police Department and on Anna Drive.

“Queremos justicia…we want justice,” a crowd of over 50 people chanted loud and clear as they were led in intervals by Yesenia Rojas.

Rojas was there during the tragic event, as was her daughters Brianna, 9, Destiny, 11, Junior and his baby daughter.

The way the people of Anna Drive described it, Diaz was doing no harm when police chased him down.   He was shot on his backside near his buttocks area, he fell to his knees, and without being able to move any further he was shot in the head one subsequent time leading to his death, and only then was he actually handcuffed.

After Diaz’ body was taken, the neighborhood retaliated.  According to long-time residents Maria and Evelyn, the boys who hung out with Diaz took it upon themselves to close off the street by placing the blue trash can bins across the street, on the intersection of Anna Drive/Acacia and La Palma.  Soon after, the police arrived again, but now in larger numbers.

They blindly shot anyone on the street with rubber bullets, regardless if they were kids or women, said a 21-year-old who preferred to remain anonymous.   I came to pick up my son who lives in this complex and I almost got hit, he continued.

Unfortunately Rojas and her son weren’t as lucky, as they were both injured.

“I tried to protect my son (Junior) who was being attacked by the dog, when I got hit,” Rojas yelled over the loud speaker as she lifted her shirt to uncover a purplish bruise the size of a billiard ball.

Her daughters luckily weren’t attacked but as Brianna recalls, “I heard gunshots and I went under my desk, I was so scared.”

Eleven year old Destiny on the other hand remembers hearing her cousin say, “Don’t let the cops get you.”

Approximately two hours after non-stop chanting, outside and inside the police department’s lobby, Councilwoman Lorri Galloway made an appearance.  She informed the public that the mayor was going to be looking into the incident.

However, the statement did not relax the crowd, instead they continued holding their signs for drivers to read, and others continued writing messages on the sidewalks with chalk.

Around 3 pm, the same crowd joined forces with the residents of Anna Drive.  While the cops had just removed the blue trash can bins in the middle of the street, a couple of young men decided to push them back onto the street about a half hour later.

Street shot of Anna Drive where Manuel “Stomper” Diaz was killed and innocent bystanders were injured.

 

“They (cops) don’t come when we need them, we have our own young men who protect our streets,” said Evelyn.

After my three hour talk with the people, I learned a couple of things…

Diaz was a homeless young man, with some prior law enforcement history.  However, based on the community’s feedback, he was a nice guy.  He even ran errands when the women were too busy to do their own.

Second, the people of Anna Drive don’t and won’t trust the police, not after yesterday’s occurrence.

Third, the community is tired but not quitting.  Instead their voices are getting louder, the crowd is getting larger, the news is spreading faster and support is growing stronger.

I admire these people who continuously use their voice to inform the masses, and who risk their life and liberty in order for true justice to take place.  These people carry no weapons; they carry signs, loud speakers, and cameras.   I love that these people are coming together to support my hometown.

However, I hate that people need to die in order for this unity to occur.