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Latinos react to police shooting deaths in Anaheim

A rash of officer-involved shootings has made news and drawn protest from residents for some time now in Anaheim, Calif., but the police shooting deaths of two men this weekend, both Latino, one unarmed, have pushed the reaction beyond Orange County.

The Latino advocacy group has now become involved, launching a petition calling for a state investigation into how officers handled a protest Saturday after the first shooting. In an largely Latino neighborhood of Anaheim, parents and children were exposed to pepper spray and a police dog was released into the crowd, something police said was accidental.

Anaheim, home of Disneyland, is now more than 50 percent Latino, and several of the recent fatal police shootings have involved Latino men. While police have pointed to suspicious activity in one shooting this weekend, a stolen car in another, some residents are pushing for greater community oversight of the police. What one man told the Orange County Register this afternoon:

Seferino Garcia, an Anaheim resident since 1977, said he had meetings scheduled Monday with Mayor Tom Tait and Councilwoman Gail Eastman to discuss the shootings and the needs of the community.

"I feel that police officers lack respect for our community and don't understand us," Garcia said. "There is a feeling that cops are trigger-happy in our communities."
Garcia said he would suggest the formation of a civilian police review board that would review police incidents and policy and make recommendations to the City Council.

It would consist of Latino leaders â?? because Anaheim's Hispanic population now makes up about 53 percent of the city's overall population â?? and non-Latinos: "A full cross-section of people from across the city," Garcia said.

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