The Social Construct

dedicated to social justice

Rita Heidtman

Rita Heidtman
Royal Oak, Michigan, United States
December 15
I'm a writer, journalist and marketing professional living and working in the Greater Detroit Area. I jump started my journalism career in Flint, MI, where I wrote for several publications, including: The Michigan Times, Broadside and East Village Magazine. I've also written for the Contra Costa Times, B-Sides, Capture Technologies, The Women's Community Clinic and NPR's Pulse of the Planet.


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AUGUST 6, 2012 2:04AM

The Happiest Place on Earth?

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Anaheim, home of Mickey Mouse, and an underrepresented Latino population, hasn’t been so happy lately.  Hundreds of people have been protesting since the July 21 police killing of unarmed Manual Diaz.  While protesters demonstrate for a more peaceful police force, this story is one that’s been heard before.  But how many unarmed minorities will be killed before a resolution has arrived?

As of 2010, Anaheim was 53 percent Latino.  However, their voices often go unheard within city government.  According to the Orange County Register, the city is segregated, splitting the city into two distinct demographics.  The Anaheim Hills has become a wealthier district of the city, where the rich have the power in the elections.  While Latinos have fought for representation, the costs of becoming a part of their own local government have been too great, and the Council members from the Hills have overspent and over spoken the majority. 

Just before the protests began in June, Latino leaders filed suit against the city with a little help from the ACLU.  Their goal is to ultimately limit the political power of Anaheim Hills, hold elections by district and place some of the power back into the community. 

But now other problems have arisen.  The people of Anaheim have protested for several consecutive days, with help from several other cities and movements.  The problem is still Anaheim, but the problem of police shooting and killing unarmed minority civilians has been an ongoing problem. 

Federal officials have agreed to review two deadly shootings after the fourth day of protest, according to USA Today.  While this has somewhat quieted the protests, they are still ongoing, placing the city in a state of unrest.  24 people were arrested as of July 25.  As of July 30, nine more people were arrested.  According to CBS, those who were among the most peaceful of protesters were taken into custody. 

This is only the beginning of justice, not only for Diaz, but also for the others who have been killed by the police over the years.  But while we know that many have been shot and killed by the police, solid numbers are not easy to find. 

In fact, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the ACLU have reported that the police are not required to report officer-involved shooting information to anyone.  The only times that such numbers or statistics are released is for particularly controversial events, but even then only very specific information has been revealed.  When the ACLU tried to get the NYPD to release such information, the department fought for disclosure, claiming that the information would violate the privacy of their officers. 

Some groups have tried to create numbers all on their own.  Hip Hop and Politics, a blog focused on hip hop culture and politics, has created charts on how many black people have been killed by police, also stating if the victim was armed or unarmed. 

While these numbers are staggering, stating that 29 black people have been killed by police officers since the beginning of 2012, one still has to question their validity and yearn for a more solid source, that not only includes minorities, but all unarmed civilians in general.While the protesters yearn to be represented, their losses should also be included in these statistics. 

Mothers who have lost their sons to police killings have been a part of the most recent protests in Anaheim, hoping for some kind of peace.  According to the Orange County Register, Theresa Smith, who lost her son Caesar Cruz to police violence in 2009, said that she will no longer protest.  Of course, she hopes that something good will come out of her work, but she knows now that the most change will happen within the system. 

With police shootings happening in various larger cities around the country, one has to wonder if any good will come of these new investigations on major U.S. police departments. 

However, New Orleans does stand to be one shining diamond in the rough.  Despite the years of social unrest and police brutality, now the Justice Department has taken a stand against the New Orleans Police Department, as they have a long pattern of discriminatory and unconstitutional activity. 

Although the new reform plan will cost the city $11 million annually, the people and municipalities have been asking for help for nearly two years.  The New York Times has reported that Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been pushing for the reform ever since he was elected.  According to PBS, it will be mandatory for officers to undergo new training, diversity standards and they will be required to record interrogations for homicides and sexual assaults.

Now, Anaheim wants in on the action.  They are calling out for reform and justice for their people, not only to be seen and represented, but also to be fairly treated.  While the rich try and mask the problems of Anaheim behind black mouse ears and vintage castles, behind the glossy image is a city of people who are gaining momentum, but losing hope.

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good luck, but i think you will have to wait another generation, for latinos to become a preponderant majority.

by then, unfortunately, voting is likely to be restricted to land owners, as the 'founding fathers' intended. otoh, the next che guevara may meet a fidel castro and skip over voting registration with revolution.