Anaheim, California — often called”Anacrime” by locals — is home to Disneyland Park, but it’s far from “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
The city’s unfortunate nickname is due to its extremely high crime rates and police brutality.
Repeated police killings of unarmed Latinos have led the majority of the city’s Latino population (52.8% according to the US Census) to speak out in protest, causing some of the loudest civil unrest that the community has ever experienced.
Anaheim local and fine art photographer William Camargo shows the city’s lesser-seen side in his “Anaheim: The Happiest City on Earth” photo series. “I wanted to show people that this city is not just made of this one entity, which is Disneyland,” Camargo told Business Insider.
Keep scrolling for a glimpse at the series, which began in 2011 and is scheduled to be exhibited by Chicago’s Las Artelitas collective this month.
This strip of stores is located across the street from where an unarmed 25-year-old, Manuel Diaz, was shot dead by an Anaheim police officer in 2012. With a liquor store, bakery, taqueria, and pizza place, strips like these are a common sight in Mexican neighbourhoods.
Several months after Diaz's shooting, friends and family gathered in his former neighbourhood for a 5K run and demonstration.
At this Del Taco, car washes are often held as fundraisers for the funeral costs or medical bills of those caught up in gang related violence. This particular location holds great significance to Camargo; one of his close friends was hit by an SUV on this corner in 2005.
At left, a young woman who performs Mexican folk dance sits at home in her traditional dress. Meanwhile, the man at right, a local tattoo artist, has a Virgen de Guadalupe tattoo on his neck. Although he isn't religious, respect for the saints is a part of the Mexican identity, as Camargo points out. Both are keeping their cultural traditions alive in different ways.
This conversation among friends is a typical scene in Anaheim, which some might confuse as a drug exchange. '(Drug deals do) happen often, but in this case, on weekends, friends stop by the alleys where friends live,' he says.
Mexican flags are common in the city's roughest neighbourhoods. 'It shows the pride that immigrants have to their native country,' says Camargo.
Angelica Ruiz (left) painted her face in celebration of Día De Los Muertos, a cultural holiday commemorating deceased loved ones. Sam Solis (right) is ex-military and works at a local taqueria called Taco Boy. Both qualify as 'anchor babies' by some GOP candidates, Camargo says, but they are accurate representations of hardworking, first-generation individuals.
At Taco Boy, Camargo recalls spending time with friends and family on Taco Tuesdays. The sounds of Spanish soap operas and jukebox ballads fill the space.
Luis 'Gina' Garcia (left) is a childhood friend of Camargo's who is now in the Navy. Jose Victor Camargo (right) is the photographer's father. The elder Camargo immigrated to the US with a vision of owning a home to leave to his children. Today, he earns minimum wage as a janitor.
Mexican families frequent church regularly, as Catholicism is closely intertwined with their culture. Camargo's childhood church sees its highest attendance around Palm Sunday and Holy Week.
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