Quis custodiet ipsos custodies: Who will watch the watchers?

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“Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?”

Who will watch the watchers?


This week media outlets will focus on Anaheim, with articles reflecting on our community one year after the nightmare of last July that left young men dead and an entire city wounded. Much of the discussion will center around Sunday’s protest, initially organized by a handful of grieving mothers who permitted Los Angeles based ANSWERLA to handle media, a decision that, in retrospect, many believe to have been  a mistake. But Anaheim’s problems go far beyond yesterday, or even July 2012, and it is going to take more than a bunch of angry activists from out of town sporting Guy Fawkes masks and demanding change, to actually get Anaheim the changes it needs.

I am glad it all ended well, and everyone stayed safe. That this should even have been in question for an event promoted as “peaceful” indicates the confusion Anaheim is in today.

When my husband and I checked City Hall after the event, (armed with trash bags we barely had to use) we found the crowd had cleaned up after themselves. Other than a few damaged protest signs leaning against already full garbage cans, the scattered cigarette butts, a few Starbucks cups, and chalk graffiti seemed to be the only evidence that an event had taken place. I have no idea how the route for the march was left, (by then it was too dark to check) but I hope they were respectful there are well. About 20 Colony residents turned out Sunday morning to clean up ahead of the march, hauling out a number of trash bags with an amusing variety of rubbish (I understand there was a contest for the oddest item found, the winner being the penis-shaped pencil topper cleared from a gutter.) The gentlemen who organized the early morning chores are the same ones who started a spontaneous cleanup the morning after last year’s festival of broken glass, showing once again that Anaheim is home to awesome people who defy the labels we get from the news organizations who communicate in sound bites and stereotypes.

Anaheim sent the message that we respect our own downtown and it looks like in large part the protesters did the same. Only one arrest was reported, for a punk with a marker and an artistic flare aimed at a wall at APD, so the big bus on stand-by at the staging area ready to haul off crowds of law breakers with zip-tied wrists was not needed after all.

ANSWERLA ginned up a great deal of unnecessary fear in our community by putting out flyers with very aggressive graphics, that led many to believe the event was intended to provoke confrontation. For a neighborhood still reeling from the effects of last year’s rioting, it has not been fun to live here, and we have all been bracing ourselves in “celebration” of the Anniversary, so tensions were already high before these morons put out those flyers! Thankfully cooler heads prevailed this year, contrasted with Deputy Chief Hunter’s militarized overreaction last July that cost taxpayers plenty and escalated fears and hostility far beyond anything necessary.

What some called “unrest” last July, locals called “watching a news helicopter show a TV screen full of miscreants being “dispersed” by Police by shoving the molotov cocktail-wielding thugs down our street toward wooden homes that have been drying out in the California sunshine for 100 years.” So forgive us for trying to find the perfect balance of prepared and reasonable.

Sadly, we have people manufacturing heated response on both sides, and while ANSWERLA needlessly inflamed our worst fears for the sake of sensationalism, there are some that are all too quick to jump on any excuse to magnify the hostility and paint anyone who dares to question the police as anti-cop gang lovers. Some gleefully took advantage of the lack of official notice to add their own versions of what was headed our way. Someday the City Manager’s office needs to get a clue and realize the absence of real information WILL be back-filled with rumor and gossip!

That, more than anything, makes me angry about this event. We have two sides who are so busy selling their own political and social agendas, even to the point of creating their own version of truth if need be, that the very real discussion regarding Anaheim’s very real problems is being lost in the mudslinging. How are we supposed to find solutions if we cannot hear each other speak over the insults and lies being hurled back and forth?

The PD empty … much ado about nothing.

This event cost Anaheim taxpayers a fortune, money that will not be recouped because unlike other organizations who maintain credibility by pulling permits and paying for services, these morons claimed they didn’t need a permit, and then stepped off the curb anyway. On the other hand, the City of Anaheim let them. While I absolutely favor the rights of any citizens group to peacefully assemble, whether I agree with them or not, the right to march without a parade permit to cover the costs of Police escort and traffic control is not guaranteed. One report claims 320 Police personnel on duty, at taxpayer expense.

Ultimately the most disruptive thing about the entire event for those of us living nearby was the fear (manufactured by both sides for different reasons) leading up to the protest, and the sound of Angel hovering overhead for HOURS, a sound that for many of us is an audible trigger for PTSD, as the sound of the helicopter sends many into panic attacks. 5 hours of anxiety inducing chopper blades is hard to take, even harder when we know we are paying for it! How much of that would have been deployed if ANSWER LA acted like grownups in the first place and gave the PD a plan they could count on, while taking financial responsibility for the event? Lots of folks dragged the name of Disney through the mud Sunday, and while I understand the hostility aimed at an industry that sucks back up the revenues they brag about generating, at least Disney pays for their street closures and Police presence for events that come “off property” like the half-marathon. ANSWERLA could not be bothered to man up to that point at all, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for their foolishness.

Hunter. Not missed.

How about in the future we do NOT invite ANSWER LA to participate in Anaheim, and we gather together to work as hard at battling the gangs who picked this fight in the first place? While Deputy Chief Hunter is gone, his brutal vision for the us vs. them mentality of his gang unit remains, and I think the best way to put these guys on the unemployment line is not to demonize all cops, most of whom are GOOD people trying to do a nearly impossible job. The best way to put the Gang Unit out of work is for us to band together against the gangs in the first place, and that is the conversation neither side seems to be having.

About Cynthia Ward

I am a truth-teller. It gets me in trouble. But if you ask me if a dress makes you look fat, I will tell you so, and help select another, before you go on television and realize it for yourself. My real friends are expected to be truthful with me as well. A secret shared will be taken to my grave, but lie to me, and it will end up here…on these pages… especially if you are tasked with the stewardship of public resources. I am a registered Republican who disdains the local GOP power structure, a born-again Christian who supports everyone’s right to spend their lives with the partner of their choosing. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I am a loyal friend to those who merit that friendship and when crossed I am a bitch with a capital C. I do not fit into a box, nor do I see others through the stereotypes that politics and public affairs so often tries to shoehorn us into. I think for myself, and so do you. Welcome to our shared space in this world.