Anti-police activists from all over have been flooding the Anaheim City Council with e-mails attacking the Anaheim Police Department and demanding its abolition.
Two weeks ago, we reported on a group of activist Anaheim Union High School District educators who put social distancing aside and organized hundreds of students at La Palma Park to protest the murder of George Floyd, and the broader issue of what they see as widespread police violence. These educators are part of political operation Councilman Jose F. Moreno has built on the AUSHD and Anaheim Elementary School District payrolls.
The same thread of negativity toward the police is present in comments made by protest organizer Liz Gracian, a teacher at Anaheim High School, regarding the potential dangers of the students joining the nearby “Fuck The Police” protest (keep in mind this took place while peaceful protests were degenerating into rioting and looting around the nation):
“We wanted to make sure that our kids would be safe. and that we wouldn’t have another occasion for police brutality.” [emphasis added]
Gracian isn’t concerned the teenagers might get caught up in violence or looting (even militantly pro-protest Teen Vogue recognizes that “mass protests can go sideways quickly”). Her principal worry is that the Anaheim police will brutalize them.
Let’s unpack Gracian’s comment. For one thing, it implicitly acknowledges the risk of the nearby “Fuck The Police” protest turning to rioting, and that her students could drawn into that situation.
More jarring is Gracian’s assumption the Anaheim police could very well brutalize those students. She wasn’t worried about the possibility of Downtown Anaheim businesses being attacked and looted (and there were attempts to do so). Her principal concern was “police brutality” by the APD toward the students.
In fact, the Anaheim police were a model of restraint during that protest, and the several that have been held since. We also know looting attempts were made during the “Fuck the Police” protest, and were foiled thanks to businesses boarding their windows (largely thanks to an Anaheim Chamber of Commerce-led effort) and the vigilance of Anaheim residents who accosted would-be looters.
No doubt Anaheim, like many other cities, will be re-examining policing and considering changes. And there’s no harm in that. However, that requires general good faith by those seeking reform. It’s disappointing that Gracian – who views her job as “teaching activism” – would assume the worst from the Anaheim police while simultaneously urging students to take to the streets while tensions were still running hot and the possibility of rioting was very real.