On July 21, 2012, an article posted on AljazeerAmerica.com documented when police in California killed Manuel Angel Diaz, an unarmed, 25-year-old man, when he ran away as officers approached. The following day, another man, latino Joel Acevbido, was killed by police. Days of protests followed as hundreds took to the streets. Most were peaceful but rocks were thrown, store windows broken and cars vandalized. Police fired rubber bullets into the crowd.
The Anaheim riots received some national attention (pages A-11 and A-13 of The New York Times) but never reached the recent heights of similar events in Ferguson, Baltimore or Staten Island, claimed the article. Those protests sparked demonstrations in cities across the country and were covered around the clock by news networks, reviving the national dialogue over race relations.
Diaz and Acevedo are not household names. Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner are.
The obvious distinction: Diaz and Acevedo are Latinos, while the other victims of recent police incidents were African American. While Civil Right’s leaders like Martin Luther King made it a priority to highlight the terrorizing of black bodies on national news, Latinos have yet to have either a notable name who demands media attention, nor a movement that speaks on police brutality outside of immigration lines.
The same remains today as new coverage for Black bodies at the hands of police brutality continue to gain coverage where as Latino deaths remain uncovered, however, there may be an explanation to this, though it does not necessarily make it right.
“Police violence on African Americans hits a deeper resonant note because of our history,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit that tracks hate crimes. “The oppression of African Americans goes right at the core of our history.”
Public perception of Latinos also tends to diffuse the outcry over police killings. “No matter how many are citizens, they’re still seen in the American mind as foreigners.”
Diaz and Acevedo were third-generation Americans.