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Protest over California police shooting turns violent, 24 arrested

(Reuters) - Police in the Southern California city of Anaheim arrested 24 people overnight after protesters smashed store windows and started fires in anger over the police shooting of an apparently unarmed man.

It was the second major clash between police and protesters since Saturday when an officer shot dead a man police said was a gang member in Anaheim, which is home to Disneyland.

“I’m here to say that vandalism, arson and other forms of violent protest will simply not be tolerated in our city,” Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait told reporters on Wednesday. “We don’t expect last night’s situation to be repeated, but if it should, the police response will be the same: swift and appropriate.”

Some of the 600 protesters threw chairs through the windows of a Starbucks, according to a Reuters witness. Damage was reported at more than 20 businesses, the City Hall and a police station, Police Chief John Welter said.

Twenty adults and four juveniles were arrested on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Anaheim Police Sergeant Mike Bustamante said.

Officers toting shotguns stood guard in front of the stores after the violence.

One person was taken to the hospital after being hit in the head by a pepper ball fired by police and two reporters were injured by rocks hurled by protesters, said Anaheim police spokesman Sergeant Bob Dunn.

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The protests were sparked by the shooting death of Manuel Diaz, who police say was a gang member.

Two officers tried to approach Diaz and two other men in an alley. The men fled but an officer caught up with Diaz and shot him, police said. Diaz was found not to have been carrying a gun, Dunn said.

Police fired pepper pellets at angry residents near the scene of the shooting on Saturday.

The Diaz family filed a wrongful-death claim against the city on Tuesday, said Diana Lopez, an attorney for the family. She said they are seeking $50 million from the city and accuse police of violating Diaz’s civil rights in the shooting.

In another incident late on Sunday, Anaheim officers tried to stop a car and killed a man who they said fled and opened fire on them during a foot chase.

Police have released few additional details about the two shootings, which are being investigated by the local district attorney’s office.

The Anaheim City Council voted on Tuesday to ask federal authorities to investigate the shootings. The U.S. Attorney’s Office with the FBI will lead that probe, and the California Attorney General’s Office will review the findings, said Ruth Ruiz, a spokeswoman for the city.

Reporting by Joseph O’Leary and Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Anthony Boadle