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So for the record: this afternoon a group called ANSWER-LA is coming to Anaheim, holding a rally at City Hall at 1:00 and then marching down Broadway to the Police Department on Harbor Blvd — so folks might want to avoid the area due to traffic issues. But there is no reason to believe that the group presents a concern for safety. ANSWER-LA has hosted a lot of events across the region, and they have a good record for keeping things safe. They are anti-violence and they are bringing their own security and a knowledge that their message will be negated if trouble breaks out.
The march is expected to be sizable — anywhere from 400 to 2,000 has been called out in various media. None of this is based on info from the PD, though we know they are tracking chat rooms and twitter feeds and very likely have an idea of head count. People have been told to get out of the area, because there is no parking on the street, and traffic may be impeded. Somehow that last part of the message failed to get through.
Unfortunately, ANSWER-LA promotes their events with some aggressive imagery on their flyers. They go for shock value to get attention, and it sends the wrong message to mainstream folk like myself and my neighbors, who are still dealing with some PTSD issues from last July. So there is a lot of fear — and absent concrete info from the PD, rumor takes over.
The march is intended to call attention to the very real problem of young men left dead on the pavement after encounters with the Police. After 12 shootings in one year, most of them unarmed, it is hard to think there is not some kind of problem.
Even those who believe they were all gang members (untrue) or that they were doing something that deserved to be blown out of their sneakers (having a tough time with that) can at least agree that Police officers need to be protected from the effects of having to shoot people. If we can find policy changes to avoid the violence, that is not a bad thing. Let’s face it, the gangs started it — I am not excusing that, but I do not look to the gangs for resolution, I look to the professionals we are paying to fix it.
For those of us asking for better tools in the war on gangs, but would no more show up for a march with placards and bullhorns than attend a Council meeting naked, there will be a candlelight vigil at City Hall at 7:30, and I will be attending that. I see no harm in consoling mothers who were NOT convicted of any crimes, and the last I checked we are not one of those backwards cultures that stones our women for the sins of their men.
So a more mainstream option is available tonight, and I invite my friends to come out and meet the mothers who have been vilified by the political blogs, because I have found them to be reasonable, dignified women who know their sons were not angels, but simply want ANSWERS to what happened to their sons. I challenge those who object to the demands for answers to please read the DA’s reports (available online) and ask if you would accept that lack of information for your own children. I personally would be doing precisely what Donna and Theresa and Genevieve are doing.
So that is a rundown on today’s events in Anaheim: the City has failed to tell us that yes they are ready for the crowd that is coming, and no they are not expecting trouble, and the group coming out has offered the rumor mongers plenty of ammo with their angry flyers that do not reflect the intent of otherwise peaceful grieving mothers who tried to organize this, but there is no reason to be afraid today, based upon the past actions of the group.
For those of us who agree that the situation is unacceptable, there is a more civilized candle lighting at 7:30, again at City Hall, and I will be there, I hope others might join me, and no we are not gang lovers or anti-cop — but we are there to say that something is broken and needs to change.
Have a lovely Sunday, world.
[Adapted with permission from a Facebook post. I do expect to be at the rally at both City Hall and the Police Station (although not the march without permit between, which just seems to be asking for a needless fight over extraneous matters) -- and then at Vern's concert , and then back at the vigil at 7:30 in the memory of Manual Diaz and Joel Acevedo and the murky questions over how and why they died. I hope that the anguish of the events of the week that began a year ago today will give way slightly for a time to peace, despite the efforts of both police and visiting protesters to heighten and adapt the conflict for their own purposes. (The legend at the top of the poster, "Led by the families of those murdered by police..." really sticks in my craw. Tolerated, perhaps, but not planned and not led.") To me, it's a day of local memorial, a day to show that we have not forgotten. - GD]