“I think they’re doing a payback to the community,” insists Yecenia Rojas, who lives in the Anna Drive neighborhood of west Anaheim next door to the small apartment building where an officer shot and killed Manuel Diaz, a local man who police say had gang ties. “They’re trying to tell us that they’re the ones that control Anaheim. They want us to be afraid.”
“We’ve been asking police to stay out of our neighborhoods for now, because this isn’t a good time,” says Martin Lopez, a community organizer and recording secretary for Unite Here! Local 11, a union representing hotel and restaurant workers. “People feel the police are coming in and making fun of them, that this is a retaliation for all of the press, all of the attention that is being called out on Anaheim.
“These police units, they know who gang members are,” he adds. “They know precisely where they live, they can wait and arrest these guys any time. No. They come in and tear down your doors, destroy people’s homes. So not only are they not helping, but they come in and make them feel worse.”
Ms. Rojas, a leader and self-described “big mouth” of the tightly knit Anna Drive community, has known most of the men arrested on the street for years – some from the time they were small children.
“Arturo, oh my God. He’s a nice guy,” she says, fingering a typed sheet of paper detailing the names and charges of those arrested from Anna Drive. “If anyone needs their car fixed, he’s the one. He works at the Wendy’s. He saw everything when the cops killed Manuel. So why did they take him? He might be guilty of having a ticket or something, driving without a license. But he isn’t doing what the police say he did.”