Residents of Anaheim, California, are justifiably outraged after police officers in their city shooting an unarmed man in the back of the head. Here’s how the Associated Press reports what took place last night at the community-led protest against police violence:
Authorities say as many as 1,000 demonstrators surged through downtown in the Southern California city Tuesday night, smashing windows on 20 businesses and setting trash fires. Police and patrol cars were pelted with rocks and bottles. Hundreds of police used batons, pepper balls and beanbag rounds.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that while police “were pelted with rocks and bottles” by protesters, there’s no mention of those protesters in turn being “hit with batons and shot with pepper ball and beanbag rounds.” The police, according to the reporting, simply “used” those weapons. Who they used them against is implied, certainly, but spelling out that they used them against living, breathing people puts the state-sanctioned violence against the community they claim to protect appear on par with the violence reportedly undertaken by members of the community against the state-sanctioned perpetrators.
Meanwhile, here’s the official explanation of why Anaheim police felt the need to execute an unarmed man in broad daylight:
According to the police union, officers saw “the documented gang member” who was holding a “concealed object in his front waistband with both hands.” Diaz then took off running, only to pull the object from his waistband and turn toward the officers.
“Feeling that Diaz was drawing a weapon, the officer opened fire on Diaz to stop the threat,” said Kerry Condon, the association’s president.
Officers reported that Diaz tossed away items as he ran, but no gun has been recovered.
In summary, it’s basically okay to murder a man by shooting him in the back of the head so long as he’s a “documented gang member.” But don’t get any ideas: not all gangs are created equal.