Fault Line in Anaheim

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryA friend of mine explained it to me this way. The majority of the residents living in Anaheim, California, are Latino—53 percent of all Anaheim residents are Latino. The Latino residents live in the poor flatland areas. However, all those who run the city council and the police force are all non-Hispanic white. These people live in the east rich areas. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, there have been only three Latino individuals on the city council at different times. When you have this, and no Latinos on the city council at present, the whole situation is rife for an explosion. That is exactly what happened when a man named Manuel Diaz was shot in the back twice by police even though he was not armed. After this, huge protests and violent unrest erupted in Anaheim, and continued for days. To make matters worse, the police conducted raids in Latino neighborhoods against “gang activities.” Most of the Latino residents are convinced that this was in retaliation for the protests against what the Latino community sees as police brutality.

The situation is still extremely explosive. The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California stated that the entire city government of Anaheim is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act, and there is a lawsuit pending on this. More than this, the Latino residents do not have any representation in the city government even though they make up the majority of the city itself. Because of this they see the city government as illegitimate and the police as an “occupying force.” For some odd reason, the city council refuses to change the voting system that would provide fairer elections for the entire city that would help create the diversity the city needs. It all sounds like an old-boy network of families and rich, powerful people wanting to retain power despite the fact that the city’s population reflects a different reality. Of course, my friend has told me that stranger things have been known to happen in California. It is clear though that because of the division between the non-Hispanic whites who run the city government and the Latinos who are being left out without a voice in the city they live in is the cause of the violence and even crime in the city. This situation will not change until Anaheim has a city council, a police force, and city government that reflects all of Anaheim’s diversity.

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