Outside city hall, protest over Anaheim's deadly shootings leads to violence

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While the Anaheim City Council listened to hours of public comment Tuesday evening about the deadly shootings that have sparked unrest in the city, protesters and police faced off for a few tense hours outside, and multiple people were arrested and injured.

Riot police fired bean bag rounds and pepper balls into a crowd of protesters late Tuesday outside City Hall as council members inside voted unanimously to ask the U.S. attorney's office to investigate recent officer-involved shootings, including one of an unarmed man.

The back-to-back weekend shootings have sparked four days of protests. A crowd of protesters who were shut out of the council meeting because there was no more room grew violent, tossing rocks and bottles at police and ignoring warnings to disperse. Officers formed lines to try to contain the crowd as residents set fire to trash cans, loudly taunted police and swarmed a Starbucks, breaking windows. Police helicopters hovered from above as colorful fireworks from nearby Disneyland lit up the sky. At one point, police shut down a gas station when protesters were seen filling canisters with gas.

Yolanda Delgado, 68, didn't like what she saw, which was young people — some with skateboards — bashing the windows of T-Shirt Outlet, a clothing store on the edge of a busy shopping area near Lincoln Avenue and Clementine Street, not far from City Hall. Delgado doesn't work at the store, but she just happened to walk through the area because the street she lives on about eight blocks away was blocked.

"This is not going to help your cause," Delgado yelled to young people who were taunting her from nearby.

At one point, Delgado chased some looters away who didn't seem to care that people were watching them.

"Have some pride!" she shouted. "Shame on you! You're nothing but little, stupid thieves. Get out of here!"

Delgado — who is not much taller than 5 feet — confronted one young person who was apparently trying to steal something from the broken store window, just a few feet away from where we stood. But Yolanda Delgado caught her and a fight broke out. The young woman, who fled on a bike, punched Delgado several times in the face as people tried to break them apart, Delgado said. Delgado was OK, but she had a bloody lip and she was obviously upset. At least six people were reported hurt in the unrest, and 24 people were arrested.

"This is my city. You don't have to steal," she cried.

George Rangel, who has lived in Anaheim for years, gave Delgado a napkin to wipe the blood from her lip as he scolded unruly protesters. He said his issue isn't with people angry over the deadly police shootings that occurred over the weekend, "But there's no reason for the public to be acting like this. It's out of control. What we need is leadership within the Mexican community to lead these people."

Dozens of police officers in riot gear tried to clear the area as protesters — most of them young and riding skateboards — threw rocks and set trash bins on fire. Others paraded up and down the streets, talking back to officers.

Protester Bryan Benitez of Anaheim, 22, expressed his anger but also kept his distance from the troublemakers.

"There is something wrong with the system," Benitez said. "We all have to realize this. We all have to realize this."

Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said he thought the violence was regrettable.

"I respect the people's right to demonstrate, but I wish that they weren't demonstrating in a violent manner," he said.

By midnight, much of the crowd had dispersed but police remained on the scene. Anaheim Police Chief John Welter and Mayor Tom Tait will hold a news conference at police headquarters, 425 S. Harbor Blvd. to address the unrest and police response. The family of Manuel Diaz, the unarmed man who was killed over the weekend, is also planning a news conference at 11 a.m.

Photos and audio from Delgado's fray during the protests:

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