ANAHEIM, Calif.—Roused to action by last month’s controversial police shootings of two Latinos, dozens of Anaheim residents chanted “we’ll be back” on Wednesday night after the city council voted down a prospective change to local elections intended to bring diversity to city leadership.
The council voted 3-2 against a referendum that would have allowed voters to decide whether to change the city’s elections from an at-large voting system to a by-district system, a proposal aimed at electing more Latino representatives to local government, according to The Los Angeles Times .
Latinos comprise half the city’s population, but just one councilmember has Hispanic heritage. Proponents said the change would be a way for the city’s majority Latino population to feel less disenfranchised.
Instead, council members voted to establish a citizen advisory committee on elections and community involvement.
The mostly peaceful but emotional meeting came after sometimes violent protests over the deadly police shootings last month of two Latino men.
On July 21, a police officer fatally shot Manuel Diaz, who was unarmed, outside an apartment complex. Officers said Diaz, who had a criminal record, failed to heed orders and threw something as he fled police.
The following night, police shot to death Joel Acevedo, a suspected gang member they say fired at officers after a pursuit.
Their deaths sparked four days of violent protests resulting in about 20 smashed shop windows and dozens of arrests.
Diaz’ mother, Genevieve Huizar, told the council the city needs change to create a healthy environment for children, according to KABC-TV.
“It’s time to make a change in Anaheim, it’s time to make a difference in the neighborhoods of Anaheim. Give the children a chance to grow in a healthy environment,” said Huizar.
Wednesday’s meeting was held at a high school auditorium to accommodate more attendees after frustrations boiled over into violent protests after a July 24 meeting, when many couldn’t get inside the packed council chamber.
In an unusual move, Disneyland Resorts President George Kalogridis had urged the city council to approve the referendum asking voters if they want to elect councilmembers through a by-district voting system, according to the Orange County Register.
Disneyland Resort is located in Anaheim, but rarely takes a public stance on civic issues.
In a letter, Kalogridis wrote that city leadership should reflect the diverse population.