Photo by “NoHoDamon” via Flickr.com
“He’s still alive man, call the cops!”
But it was the cops who had just shot the man, seen in the YouTube video lying face down in an Anaheim neighborhood.
The video, and the outrage it sparked, is central to four nights of rioting that rocked the California city this week.
The man later died at the hospital. In an unrelated incident, police shot and killed another man the next night.
This is one view of America. A view far removed from the banal rhetoric beginning to define this presidential election — and from the worldview of the media industry that is supposed to cover such things.
Get to know it. Because the discontent in Anaheim instantiates an emerging political theme of 2012: the divide between the haves vs. have-nots, between the protected and the policed. We live in the same America, but trust me, we don’t all see it the same way.
Anaheim has had five fatal police shootings this year. The fourth and fifth came in one recent weekend, tipping off underlying tensions between police and the large (and largely impoverished) Latino community.
The man mentioned above who lay wounded as bystanders screamed for police to help him was Manuel Angel Diaz, 25. He was unarmed. Another Latino man they shot and killed, police say, was armed with a handgun and had fired at police.
Outraged over the deaths, hundreds of protesters marched to an already packed City Hall meeting and were turned away. Tensions turned ugly. Store windows were broken, goods stolen and police pelted with bottles and rocks. Law enforcement responded with pepperballs and beanbag rounds.
In a further irony, a brilliant fireworks display at Disneyland, that sacred ground of American consumer order, illuminated protesters and the police in riot gear confronting them. Same planet, different universe.