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Friday, August 3, 2012

New York Times Finally Reports on Anaheim Disturbances

The Gray Lady of journalism, the New York Times, has finally noticed the events in Anaheim, California following nine days of disturbances. The reporting by Jennifer Medina gives some perspective on the discord that has surfaced in the city. 

Excerpts from...
Fury Reveals Deep Rifts Near ‘Happiest Place on Earth’
by Jennifer Medina
New York Times - August 2, 2012

While most of the city’s population of nearly 350,000 lives on the west side of the bowtie-shaped city, in recent decades a wealthy enclave known as Anaheim Hills has flourished to the east. The hills are about 15 miles away from downtown, more like a separate town than a part of this mostly working-class and largely Latino city. There, household income is roughly twice as much as in the flatlands, as the rest of the city is known.

Like most of the City Council, Mayor Tom Tait lives in Anaheim Hills. Last week, he asked federal investigators to look into the Police Department’s practices. This week, trying to grapple with how the city could move on, he called a meeting with executives from Disney, as well as the Los Angeles Angels and the Anaheim Ducks, asking them to help come up with programs to help the most struggling neighborhoods in the city.

In those neighborhoods, the mostly Latino residents have grappled with unemployment, poverty, crime and gangs for years. Now, suddenly, those longstanding problems are being thrust into wider view.

For now at least, there is a widespread suspicion of the city’s elite. Young men complain about being unfairly singled out by the police. Mothers worry that their children are not getting enough support in schools to stay out of trouble. Activists charge that city officials have focused on development around Disneyland and in Anaheim Hills at the expense of the rest of the city.

Many residents are grandchildren and great-grandchildren of immigrants, some raised on the history of the city’s complicated relationship with Latinos. An explosive conflict between the police and residents in 1978 led to several changes in the department. A once gang-infested neighborhood just across from Disneyland was knocked down and renamed. At one point, a city official tried to stop a Mexican supermarket from opening. In the late 1990s, a chief of police ordered background reports on Latino activists who accused the department of misconduct.