Woman Denies Being A 'Police Plant' At Anaheim Protest
In the days after Anaheim police fatally shot Manuel Diaz and then fired pepper balls and bean bags into a crowd of his neighbors, the city of Anaheim erupted into protests and rioting.
The protests attracted concerned local residents but also people from outside the community interested in protesting police brutality, including Anonymous. But a young, blonde-haired woman in heels with a tattoo of a police badge on her wrist stood out from the crowd.
One video on USTREAM captured her yelling at police in riot gear about their decision to fire pepper balls and bean bags into a crowd of residents. In the video, she yelled: "Who shot these women and children?" But in another video, she was leaning against a column in near a line of police in front of City Hall, and she was attracting the jeers of protesters. Some witnesses claimed in OC Weekly that she was shouting pro-police slogans.
It appeared from the brief video clips that she seemed to be playing both sides, and some groups thought she might be a police plant (though we were pretty skeptical a plant would do such a terrible job blending in to the crowd). That report got picked up all over the web (including here and here).
But the woman claiming to be the person in question in both videos reached out to LAist to explain what she was doing at the protest and City Council meeting. Her name is Jaime, and she asked that her last name be withheld because she was concerned about professional repercussions. Right off the bat she wanted to make it clear that she isn't affiliated with the police department nor does she consider herself "pro-cop." (She also denies reports that she threw a water bottle at police to incite violence.) Jaime is an Anaheim resident, and she says she lives about 5 blocks away from where Diaz was shot.
She said that she doesn't consider herself an activist, but she had long been concerned about the tactics of the police force in Anaheim. She told LAist in a phone interview: "I'm a 30-year-old white female, but I don't fear my streets, I don't fear my neighbors; I fear the police."
Jaime said she went to the protests in front of City Hall, because she wants the community to come together to press for major reforms in the police force. She said, "I do not agree with police tactics—we need to come together and stop fighting."
Jaime says she did confront protesters while they were waiting outside to get into a City Council meeting, which explains why they were caught on video yelling at her. She said she got frustrated with some factions of protesters from outside of Anaheim. She described some of the ones she took issue with as older "disgruntled" hippies wearing peace T-shirts, who show up to protests for the sake of protesting—not to come up with a workable solution for the community.
She blamed them for making it difficult for locals and the parents of men who have been shot in the city to bring up their concerns at the City Council meeting that was being held that day she was caught on tape. The atmosphere and chaos at the protest outside City Hall made it difficult for local families to have their needs addressed right away, she said. "It was upsetting me," she told LAist.
So what's up with the police badge tattooed on the inside of her wrist? She says it's not a political statement—it's in memory of her grandfather who was in law enforcement.