In some jurisdictions, police solve crimes and try to protect the public. In Santa Ana, California, the fastest growing hobby for the police is shooting unarmed civilians. On 8/5, residents packed the city hall to demand that police stop shooting people.
The Santa Ana Police Department has shot at least five unarmed people since the start of the year. The identified victims include Binh Van Nguyen, Jason Erling Hallstrom, Gerardo Diego Ayala, Jessica Gonzalez, and the latest victim, 22-year-old Kevin Arellano, who just recently became a father.
Genevieve Huizar, the mother of Manuel Angel Diaz, another innocent unarmed victim of a police killing, labeled the killings “Murder by Cop.” This phrase was echoed again and again by speakers throughout the night. She asked “Why are the officers opening fire when they have other options?”
Former elected Orange Unified School Board Member Steve Rocco went further. He blamed Santa Ana’s top leadership for multiple murders done through the police and covered up by the City.
Sherry Gyotoku, aunt of police shooting victim Michael Nida pointed out that the city council doesn’t know what these police shootings of innocent unarmed men do to the wives and children. She sees the families grieving all the time.
Terri Teramura, also a sister of innocent police shooting victim Michael Nida, said that she had been to two memorial services for innocent people killed by Santa Ana’s police. She pointed out that the cops in Santa Ana are out of control. She and other family members have formed a group called “Justice Warriors” and would be going to to the state capitol in October.
Jean Thaxton, the mother who raised Michael Nida, discussed the lies the police and news media tell about the victims to excuse the killings. Indeed, if you look at the video below, you can see the accusations they are using to excuse the unnecessary killing of an unarmed Kevin Arellano.
Kandice Herrera, a friend of police shooting victim Kevin Arellano, said, “Enough is enough.” Kandice spoke on behalf of Kevin’s family, who were still grieving their loss.
Others came forward and courageously spoke, knowing that there could be retaliation from the police patrolling their neighborhoods with guns. The council was asked repeatedly to reign in their cops and stop the killings. Some of those present felt the Federal Government should step in and take over to stop the deadly civil rights violations. Many speakers grew up with officers but were shocked at the lawlessness of the current police force. Members of the public spoke fearlessly, articulately and with passion. But did their speeches fall on deaf ears?
The Santa Ana police are not known for serving and protecting. Special interests call in the police and city inspectors when they want to hassle and control their neighbors and grab their property or freedom. The police have a history of following women in patrol cars and giving no reason for the pursuit when questioned. Crime victims are told by the police to file civil suits when felonies have been committed against them. Children who report violent sexual abuse or aggravated assaults are laughed at or silenced by officers. It was pointed out at the meeting that the one thing residents cannot count on the Santa Ana police to do is to stop violent crimes committed against them. But the innocent and unarmed have considerable reason to be concerned about the possibility they could be shot by the police as evidenced by all the prior incidents of that nature.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas doesn’t seem to prosecute violent crimes either. This could be because his office is funded by certain economic interests – unrelated to protecting the interests of the public and he may consider prosecution of violent crimes to be a waste of time. The corruption in the District Attorney’s office was also referenced by speakers at the city council meeting.
Concerns about Santa Ana corruption are more widespread than just shooting the public. Mark Burcaw reported illegal citations issued by the Santa Ana Police Department for the purpose of illegally seizing property.
This writer has been informed by other residents about land grab schemes within the city . People who want other people’s property reportedly have city officials misuse their positions to cite the property for bogus violations for the purpose of later condemning and stealing the desired property. The city has been known to turn off the water of residents and then cite them for not having water as part of this seemingly continuous scheme of corruption. The information provided by residents appears to confirm that Mr. Burcaw’s complaints are common place in Santa Ana.
The repeated killing of unarmed citizens as if Santa Ana is a shooting gallery , the illegal seizure of land and the failure to enforce laws against criminal activities are serious matters that warrant an independent investigation. The federal government might want to take action while some of the residents are still alive and haven’t had their property seized – yet.
Ruth Hull is an activist and writer whose career has included work as a criminal defense attorney, a licensed private investigator, and an educator.