For some Orange County residents, the Los Angeles riots were a distant thing -- scary, but far away.
Last night's violent clashes between demonstraters and Anaheim police, however, may hit too close to home.
With two dozen people under arrest, police reported that they restored order this morning after a fourth day of clashes between officers and protesters angry over two fatal officer-involved shootings in Anaheim this weekend.
At least seven people were reported hurt in the unrest, with crowds setting fires, smashing windows and throwing rocks and other projectiles at officers in riot gear who fired non-lethal rounds at demonstrators refusing to disperse.
Damage, including broken windows, was reported at the police station, city hall, and more than 20 businesses, Anaheim police Chief John Welter said at a briefing this morning. Several patrol cars also were damaged, he said.
Welter said more than 300 law enforcement officers were deployed from throughout the region in support of their Anaheim colleagues. Officers from other agencies also were assigned to respond to 911 calls that otherwise would have been handled by Anaheim officers who were working to handle the unrest.
Twenty adults and four juveniles were arrested on suspicion of various offenses, including assault with a deadly weapon, failure to disperse, and battery, Welter said. One adult arrestee and one juvenile arrestee suffered minor injuries, he said.
One person was taken to a hospital after being struck in the head with a pepper ball fired by police, two print reporters were injured by rocks hurled by protesters, and a police officer suffered a minor arm injury, said Sgt. Bob Dunn, an Anaheim police spokesman. Additionally, one person was injured during a fight among protesters, according to The Orange County Register.
Police went on a tactical alert Tuesday, extending shifts and limiting
responses to the most urgent radio calls, and sheriff's deputies and officers
from neighboring cities were called in to assist in controlling the protests.
Protesters numbered about 600, Dunn said.
The latest round of protests began when hundreds of people gathered shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday outside City Hall as the City Council met inside, voting to ask federal authorities to investigate the officer-involved shootings. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait previously had called for the state Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate them.
With Council Chambers already filled to capacity, police turned away demonstrators who tried to enter the session. Protesters then marched along Anaheim Boulevard to Lincoln Avenue, where they blocked traffic, then marched back toward City Hall, Dunn said.
Police using loudspeakers ordered them to disperse, then, around 9 p.m. Tuesday, began firing non-lethal rounds at the feet of protesters.
Some protesters shattered the windows of at least six downtown businesses, including a Starbucks, and set small trash fires. A mob set a fire at a lumber yard at Claudina and Santa Ana streets, drawing Anaheim firefighters, and mobs smashed the window of an NBC4 reporter's car, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A Molotov cocktail was tossed at a police car, Dunn said.
Most of the protesters left the area late Tuesday and their numbers continued to dwindle after midnight, but pockets of them scattered into outlying neighborhoods and continue to set small trash fires, he said, adding that order was fully restored by 2 a.m. today.
It was the fourth night of protests following the weekend shootings of known gang members Manuel Diaz, 25, and Joel Mathew Acevedo, 21.
During unrest on Saturday and Sunday in Anaheim, protesters set fire to
a Dumpster that was rolled into a street, and threw objects at officers. Police fired non-lethal projectiles to disperse the crowd. A police dog got loose during the melee -- police said it was an accident -- and bit at least two people.
Diaz, whom police described as a documented gang member from Santa Ana, was approached by officers around 4 p.m. Saturday in the 600 block of North Anna Drive. Police said Diaz and his two companions ran off, but an officer caught up to Diaz, and the officer wound up shooting him. Diaz died at a hospital about 7 p.m.
Two officers, including the one who shot Diaz, have been placed on paid leave while an investigation was pending.
Diana Lopez, an attorney for the Diaz family, announced Tuesday a $50 million claim against the city alleging civil rights violations by Anaheim police.
Late Sunday, Anaheim police fatally shot 21-year-old Joel Mathew Acevedo
at the end of a stolen-car pursuit.
Acevedo, also an alleged gang member, became the fifth person to die in an officer-involved shooting in Anaheim this year. He allegedly fired at officers before being shot.
A sixth person was shot by Anaheim police this year, but survived.