Powered by Max Banner Ads
Anaheim is home to the Angels baseball team and, on Friday, it was also the scene of “Operation Halo.” No, it had nothing to do with getting the franchise out of its late season struggles and everything to do with the much scrutinized Anaheim Police Department. Authorities told the Los Angeles Times that considering the unrest in the city, there had been thought given to delaying the sweep conducted in East Anaheim. Yeah right! The timing couldn’t have been better because of that very fact.
According to media reports, thirty-three arrests were made as weapons and meth were also seized. But beneath the headlines, Operation Halo provided an opportunity to reframe the department away from recent criticisms. Even the name has angelic connotations!
Chief John Welter utilized the raids to speak of how they had to be carried out as scheduled so that another person doesn’t get shot. Not denying hood violence exists, but isn’t this an ironic statement for a department to make that has come under fire for controversial fatal officer-involved shootings dating back to last summer? (And beyond that too!)
The gang targeted by the raid was said to have thrived off of instilling fear in the community of the police. It was heartbreaking, but when the group We Are Anaheim engaged the children of Anna Drive in an artistic project, some drew depictions of police and a K-9 chasing after a resident. This was the recreation of the chaotic scene after the shooting death of Manuel Diaz in that neighborhood. Once again, the department, unfortunately, has made decisions independent of any other factors that have traumatized communities in the city. Handing out bilingual flyers after carrying out raids will not make amends.
The inclusion of Diaz’s photo on the high school project-like poster board for the operation’s press conference must be noted. He is deemed as a person of interest who would have been targeted in the sweep that day. There is, of course, only one problem. Diaz was killed unarmed in broad daylight weeks ago in an Anaheim police officer-involved shooting. If deceased, why is his photo still up there? Beyond the grave, he remains a person of interest. The reasons are obvious.
Welter also went on to hail Halo as the first step of recovery for Anaheim. Police are agents of societal law enforcement, not transformation. In the last thirty years, with the rise of the failed Drug War, mass incarceration, and the new Jim Crow, that task has become all the more repressive (and militarized) in nature.
The formula for the city’s recovery lies in resources, not raids. Something akin to Homeboy Industries is needed to provide viable economic alternatives. Mexican-American Studies in the schools would alleviate the cultural disorientation and learned self-hatred that fuels the existence of gangs alongside poverty. These priorities, sadly, are not even being articulated by the misleadership class in the city.
In the end, it’s not about “community policing.” It’s about building a more viable community with less policing.