Calls for Investigations: The Bait of Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait. (CC/vexrobotics)

After a couple days of relative calm in the city of Anaheim since social unrest erupted on Tuesday, the arrival of this weekend promises another round of protests. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has been vocal in the aftermath of fatal officer-involved shootings and police repression in the community – though he hasn’t called it that – making statements in the press calling for state and federal help in assisting independent investigations into the Anaheim Police Department.

With a successful recall ending the tenure of the Fullerton City Council‘s “three bald tires” in the wake of the Kelly Thomas police beating death, Tait knows he must be politically calculating and placate public anger. For some, these gestures in the name of transparency have been enough, but I call the bluff. It’s quite telling, as co-founder and strategist Roberto Lovato has illustrated, that Tait, Chief Welter and other officials have been much more passionate about denouncing broken windows in downtown Anaheim, than they have about annihilated brown bodies and traumatized communities.

If subsidizing Anaheim’s resort area plays into the equation of the city’s very public descent into dystopia, Tait’s past has certainly played into that dynamic. Leading into a vote for a charter amendment to vet such “public-private partnerships” that was ultimately shelved due to the swelling outrage over police brutality, the Orange County Business Council reminded him of his political past before his public opposition to a $158 million tax giveaway for a hotel development less than a mile from a fatal officer-involved shooting that killed 21-year old Martin Angel Hernandez earlier this year.

As Mayor, Tait has also pushed for economic deregulation with a task force seeking to make Anaheim more ‘business-friendly.’ Perverted priorities at City Hall were in full effect long before the current controversy less than friendly ‘community policing’ has made international headlines.

At a meeting of police presentations masquerading as a community forum held back in March after Hernandez’s death, Tait was present alongside Councilwoman Lorri Galloway and Kris Murray. His quotation of Mother Theresa and endorsement of Chief Welter was met by silence from the crowd. The tension was palpable then and city officials should have known the time to act had arrived, but they failed.

Now Tait has called for outside investigations, but what does that really mean? The Los Angeles Times, which has been rather abhorrent in its coverage thus far, does shed some light on that question in an article this morning. “The FBI said it would review evidence and reports by the Orange County district attorney’s office to determine whether a federal investigation is warranted, though sources said that at this stage, the U.S. attorney’s office and Justice Department are not initiating a civil rights probe.”

A federal investigation is contingent upon the findings of the very DA who, in a span of over 13 years, has failed to pursue charges in officer-involved shootings all but once and never in Anaheim. To reiterate, neither the U.S. attorney’s office nor the DOJ are launching a civil rights probe into the killing of Manuel Diaz a week ago. Feeling underwhelmed yet? has gathered nearly 17,000 signatures nationwide demanding a full investigation be conducted by the state attorney. On Monday, in conjunction with Anaheim community residents, they will be handing them over to the LA office of Kamala Harris.

There is nothing to indicate that anything proactive is happening at the state attorney’s office with regards to the APD, so pressure must be applied by those who seek not to placate, but agitate for true justice and accountability.

About Gabriel San Roman