Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein extended her sympathies today to the family of Manuel Diaz, the 25 year-old resident of Anaheim, California who was shot to death by Anaheim police on Saturday. The circumstances of the shooting are under investigation, but it has been reported that Diaz was unarmed at the time of the shooting. When protesting citizens appeared at an Anaheim police station during a press conference, police responded to reported bottle and rock throwing with rubber bullets, pepper spray and a police dog unleashed on the crowd, which included terrified parents and children who were peacefully protesting.
Stein said, “Shooting of unarmed people is intolerable, and cannot be allowed to become a routine feature of urban policing. And police brutality towards innocent bystanders in a protest cannot be accepted.”
Saturday’s fatal police shooting was compounded by a second police shooting death on Sunday of another Latino man, Joel Acevedo, allegedly during what police claim was a suspected car robbery in which the suspect shot at them, though the circumstances have not yet been clarified.
These deaths follow 6 additional officer-involved shootings this year, and many in previous years, in the city of Anaheim, many of which were said to involve unarmed residents.
“These incidents are deeply disturbing. Especially in the wake of recent cases of police and para-police racial brutality and profiling – including the Trayvon Martin and Kenneth Chamberlain murders, and the growing controversy over Stop-and-Frisk in NY City that targets largely African American and Latino youth for degrading searches. We join the call of the Latino civil rights group, Presente, for the state attorney to conduct a full investigation into this very troubling pattern of police-involved violence.”
“Regardless of the circumstances of any particular incident, it is clear that the police force in Anaheim, and in many other communities, have lost the confidence of the community, and we need to find new ways to re-establish public trust – through mutual respect. We must protect public safety while making sure our police forces are not employed as agents of fear.”
Green Party vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala commented on the clash between demonstrators and police, saying that, “When police appear to be killing people who are simply scared or committing minor offenses, the community has a responsibility to show up and demand answers. They shouldn’t be met with pepper spray, rubber bullets, and police dogs. We have to recognize the legitimacy of the concerns that are driving protests and give people a fair hearing. We respect the difficult job that the police have when a protest begins, but respect is a two-way street. Police have to respect, and defend, the right of people to be heard.”
Stein observed that, “Urban communities across America are in crisis. Disinvestment, unemployment, and lack of health care are corroding the very fabric of society while Washington targets trillions of dollars to bailing out Wall Street banks and subsidizing well-connected business interests. The President plays golf with international bankers and then announces his plans to stabilize their bad investments. Meanwhile, our inner city communities are crying out for help, and getting mostly budget cuts and austerity programs. Money is poured into militarization of police forces and building more prisons rather than addressing the source of the problems.”
“This is not an acceptable course for America” Stein continued. “It is not leading us toward the nation we can be, and should be. We need a change in priorities. We need to put people first, and make the investment in America that will never be made by the Wall Street financiers. Healthy communities are an imperative, not something that can wait for some future date after Wall Street is taken care of. Too many lives are being lost for us to tolerate further delay. We need a Green New Deal that will heal our wounds, employ our community members, and lift the fear that hangs like a cloud over our city streets.”