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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

We are watching the police

On July 22, nearly 1,000 people gathered in front of Anaheim Police Department headquarters to mark the one-year anniversary of bitter demonstrations that followed the killing of Manuel Diaz--execution-style, with a bullet to the back of the head as he lay on the ground--in full view of a crowd of onlookers. Police then terrorized those who gathered at the spot to protest the police murder, opening fire with rubber bullets and tear gas.
The very next day, the Anaheim police struck again, killing 21-year-old Joel Acevedo. Donna Avecedo is the mother of Joel Acevedo, a 21-year-old who was killed by the Anaheim, Calif., police on July 22, 2012. Donna Avecedo is the mother of Joel Acevedo. She delivered this statement at the one-year anniversary demonstration this year to a crowd that included dozens of family members of victims of police violence.
Donna Acevedo speaking out alongside other family members of victims of police brutality (Greg Silva) 
Donna Acevedo speaking out alongside other family members of victims of police brutality (Greg Silva)
THANK YOU all for coming to our march in honor of victims of police violence in Anaheim on this one-year anniversary of the shooting of Manuel Diaz and my son Joel Acevedo.
What we want here in Anaheim is a Citizens' Review Board with real teeth and investigative powers to look into incidents like these and make sure they never happen again. But we'll never get a serious Citizens' Review Board with the City Council we have right now.
Mayor Tom Tait has been the only council member to listen to us and take our grievances seriously, but apart from him, our council owes its allegiance to Disney, the developers and the police union, which is why they steer all the city's vast resources to the Resort District and let our working-class neighborhoods sink into deterioration, and why they'll never support true reform of the police department.
For that reason, if we want justice in Anaheim, if we want real police reform, we're going to need true single-member district elections, so we can have council members that are responsive to every neighborhood in this great town, not just to the big money.
And that means saying "no" to the phony Santa-Ana-style elections this council is trying to stick us with. Working-class people of Anaheim, you need to stay informed and involved, come to the council meetings, register to vote and vote! Together we can make change happen.
People ask what I think about the district attorney's report that came out a few days ago, on the killing of my son Joey. I say, it's pretty much what we expected from District Attorney Tony Rackauckas--a whitewash that takes the police officers' word as gospel and ridicules any contradictory testimony.
What you can do
For more information on the struggle against police violence in Orange County, visit the United Survivors of Anaheim Facebook group.
This has happened with every police killing in Orange County with the exception of Kelly Thomas--and that was a videotaped police murder so outrageous that even Tony Rackauckas couldn't whitewash it.
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BEFORE I say what I believe happened, I know it's hard for most Americans who don't live in neighborhoods like mine to believe that gang unit officers would execute a young man in cold blood and then plant a gun on him.
It sounds crazy and paranoid, like the wishful thinking of a mother. But remember how hard it was for you to believe what you heard about the killing of Kelly Thomas, until you saw the actual videotape. Who could have believed that six officers would beat a helpless homeless man to death with Taser blows to the face? Well, some policemen do these sorts of things!
That said, this is not the time or place to reveal all our evidence and witnesses, but I have good reason to believe that [witness] Vanessa Duran told the truth--my son was held down and executed, and then had a gun planted on him. That also happens sometimes in neighborhoods like mine, as much as it gets covered up.
I should point out that there have been no police-involved fatal shootings of young men here since my son was killed a year ago. Maybe the change in police leadership has something to do with it, but I believe it's also because we're all coming out now to film the police, whenever we think violence is about to happen. This is our First Amendment right, upheld in countless court cases, as even our new police chief Raul Quezada has admitted to us.
But our young people are still being targeted, profiled and criminalized for where they live and the color of their skin, especially in the neighborhoods suffering under unconstitutional gang injunctions. Gang unit officers are pressuring landlords to evict tenants they don't like, with no due process and with many of them having no connection to gangs.
The economic inequality fueling all these problems hasn't gotten better at all, with no help from our council majority. So there is still a lot of work for us to do.
In conclusion, keep being involved. We're making a difference. Know your rights, come to council meetings, speak out, register to vote, and keep filming the police! It's working.

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