A neighbor walks past a memorial for police shooting victim Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, in Anaheim, California. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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Welcome to the abattoir—a nation where a man can walk into a store and buy an assault rifle, a shotgun, a couple of Glocks; where in the comfort of his darkened living room, windows blocked from the sunlight, he can rig a series of bombs unperturbed and buy thousands of rounds of ammo on the Internet; where a movie theater can turn into a killing floor at the midnight hour.
We know about all of this. We know because the weekend of July 20 became all-Aurora-all-the-time, a round-the-clock engorgement of TV news reports, replete with massacre theme music, an endless loop of victims, their loved ones, eyewitness accounts, cellphone video, police briefings, informal memorials, and “healing,” all washed down with a presidential visit and hour upon hour of anchor and “expert” speculation. We know this because within a few days a Google search for “Aurora movie shootings” produced over 200 million hits referencing the massacre that left seventy-plus casualties, including twelve fatalities.
We know a lot less about Anaheim and the killing of Manuel Angel Diaz, shot in the back and in the head by that city’s police just a few short hours after the awful Aurora murders.
But to the people living near La Palma Avenue and North Anna Drive, the shooting of Manuel Diaz was all too familiar: it was the sixth, seventh or eighth police shooting in Anaheim, California, since the beginning of 2012. (No one seems quite sure of the exact count, though the Orange County District Attorney’s office claims six shootings, five fatalities.)
Diaz, 25, and as far as police are concerned, a “documented gang member,” was unarmed. He was apparently running when he was shot in the back and left to lie on the ground bleeding to death as police moved witnesses away from the scene. “He’s alive, man, call a cop!” a man shouted at the police. “Why would you guys shoot him in the head?” a woman demanded.
“Get back,” officers repeatedly said, pushing mothers and youngsters away from the scene, which they surrounded with yellow crime-scene tape.
Neighborhood residents gathered on lawns along the street, upset at what had happened near their homes, upset at what has been occurring repeatedly in Anaheim. Then, police, seeking to disperse the crowd, began firing what appeared to be rubber bullets and bean-bag rounds directly at those women and children, among others. Screaming chaos ensued. A police dog was unleashed and lunged for a toddler in a stroller. A mother and father, seeking to protect their child, were themselves attacked by the dog.