Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait confirmed today that federal officials have agreed to review two deadly police shootings after a fourth day of violent protests. In addition, Tait will meet with members of the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI on Friday.
Yesterday, the mother of one of the victims filed a civil-rights and wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court. The City Council’s vote will entreat the U.S. Attorney’s office to conduct a probe to determine whether or not the shooting deserves a civil rights investigation.
While this may look like progress in the right direction to some, protesters and police still clashed violently outside of City Hall. Protesters threw objects at riot police, who in turn chased the protesters and fired projectiles into crowds. A reporter from the Orange County Register was hit by a rock.
“Violence will not be tolerated,” said Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait at a press conference this morning. “Our response will be swift and appropriate to violence, arson and vandalism.”
The rising tension could have drastic consequences over the next few weeks and in the future. Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said as many as 1,000 demonstrators surged through downtown Anaheim Tuesday night, smashing windows on 20 businesses and setting trash fires.
"Two-thirds of 1,000 protesters are not from Anaheim,” said Chief Welter. He also said that 20 of the 24 arrested Tuesday night are from Anaheim.
Chief Welter and Mayor Tait said police will continue enforce laws to maintain peace in the city. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait expressed his shock at the public's outburst on AirTalk Wednesday morning.
"I'm disturbed about what should have been a peaceful protest and a peaceful council meeting. Violence doesn't help anything, and I appreciate our police department's response last night," he said.
Tait added that he believes the number of nonresident demonstrators present Tuesday agitated the situation.
"Obviously we have work to do; we're all in this together. The community is really responding well. People are upset and angry, but upset and angry in a positive way. They want to fix this city, and they want to make it better for everybody; they want to make it a city that it can be, and I'm very encouraged by that," he said. "The people using violence last night – that's not Anaheimers."
According to Mayor Tait, trust within the entire city is critical. He said he knows only as much as the public does from news coverage over the weekend, his reason for calling on the district attorney, U.S. attorney and FBI to investigate with an objective eye.
"Of course, you watch that and you're going to lose trust in your police department, so people are upset," he said. "That's why I call for independent investigation. I did that because I want completely outside, independent review, credible investigation of the facts. And that’s going to require patience, until we get those facts."
Anaheim City Councilmember Lorri Galloway applauded the mayor's swift plea for outside agency investigations, but she said city government needs to increase community participation and begin the healing process.
"It's really about empowering the people, and I want to see this through a summit and I want it happening six months down the road. I think communication is imperative once something like this happens, because it's broken. It's totally broken now, and we've got to face it head on," she said.
She cites how residents saw the shooting unfold as cause for anger, and says what they believe cannot be ignored.
"They said they had eyewitnesses who said that they shot first, they shot him in the back, he was immobilized, and after he was already immobilized, they shot him in the head. That's what they're mad about. They're talking about the way in which they believe it happened. They believe that. Whether it's true or not, they believe it, and we have to look at it as an issue," she continued.
Galloway added that her personal relationship with members of the Anaheim community led her to believe that the public's violent response was long-coming.
"I think there's an imbalance in Anaheim; I'm not surprised by this at all," she commented. "There have been root causes to these problems. These areas are just on the outskirts of the resort area of Disneyland, and it's the happiest place on earth, but just around the corner, it is a completely different world that has been ignored."
Is there a growing distrust between the community and Anaheim’s police force? What is being done to prevent that from happening? What other steps could Anaheim take to ensure its citizens’ safety while not crossing over the line? Are you an Anaheim resident? Do you feel safe, or are you becoming suspect of your local law enforcement?
Ed Joyce, KPCC Reporter
Tom Tait, Mayor of Anaheim; Tait has served as mayor since November 2010; previously he served as a council member and Mayor Pro Tem
Lorri Galloway, Anaheim City Council Member; elected to the Anaheim City Council in November 2004 and has served as Mayor Pro Tem in 2012
Corey Moore, KPCC Reporter