email I got from www.answercoalition.org
The ANSWER Coalition unequivocally condemns the brutal, unprovoked Los Angeles Police Department attack on immigrant families, media reporters and camerapersons and others in MacArthur Park on May 1. The LAPDâs racism and violent nature has been displayed once again for the world to see.
We demand that Mayor Villaraigosa and all city officials take immediate action to bring the officers involved to justice. We also demand that the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners fire LAPD Chief William Bratton.
On May 1, tens of thousands of protesters participated in mass marches for immigrant rights in Los Angeles and around the United States. The march targeted by the LAPD was the second major action in the city that day. It marched from Vermont and 3rd to MacArthur Park.
By all accounts, the march was peacefulâthat is, until the cops began their coordinated attack on the participants.
Soon after the thousands of marchers arrived at MacArthur Park, a police motorcade forced its way into a large circle of people who were enjoying the Aztec Dancers perform an Indigenous ceremony in Alvarado St. near the Southeast corner of the park. The cops pushed people, including Aztec Dancers and children, to the ground.
Next, cops on bicycles rushed through the crowd demanding people evacuate the area. They were followed closely by LAPD âshock troopsâ on foot, who forced people from the area by hitting onlookers with batons.
The crowd was obviously upset and highly concerned by the unprovoked and violent police attack. In an attempt to defend themselves, people responded by hurling empty water bottles and fruit at the police.
Contrary to LAPD Chief Brattonâs statement that their violence was in response to âcertain elements of the crowd â¦ [who] began to create a series of disturbances," it was really the other way around.
As this was happening at the east corner of the park, several hundred yards away on the other end of the park, dozens of cops in full riot gear cleared the street by pushing people onto the sidewalks.
The coordinated, military-style actions show a deliberate calculus used by the LAPD. This was a premeditated attackâa police riot. It is standard practice to repress mass movements and working people.
âThey were mercilessâ
Take action today
Write an e-mail or contact Mayor Villaraigosa to express your outrage at the attack on immigrant rights marchers and community members.
ANSWER has set up an easy-to-use mechanism to fax or write a letter to the Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa demanding that Bratton be fired immediately and that his application for reappointment be denied. Click this link to send your letter by fax or email.
The worst was yet to come. Less than one hour after the initial attack, the LAPD began its full assault on the marchers and all people in the park. Well over 100 riot cops, including 30 to 40 shooting pellet guns and rubber-coated bullets began attacking everyone in the park. They fired many times directly at people, many of whom could not get away from the police onslaught. Police also shot tear gas at the protesters.
One eyewitness to the LAPD violence was Ernesto Arce, ANSWER Coalition organizer and KPFK radio host. Arce, who was hit in the leg with a rubber-coated bullet during the attack, described the scene:
âWithout warning, cops descended into a park full of families, homeless and handicapped individuals and street cart vendors. They were merciless.
âFor the next 30 minutes, hundreds of activists and bystanders were shot, beaten by night sticks and run out of the park. The police had no intention of entertaining requests from people who were not able to move quickly enough. They were forcefully hit on the legs until they were immobile.
âThe cops didn't only move people out of the perimeters of the park, they chased through the park firing at anyone who might have been an obstacle. I witnessed many people who were shot at from the back. Children and entire families were being violently pushed or beaten. An elderly woman cried out for help but few were willing to run back in the face of fast-approaching SWAT police.
âWe were chased onto 7th street and forced at least 6 blocks west. The police tried to cordon off the entire area, but most protestors didn't stick around. It was frightening for even seasoned protestors.â
The cops shut down the organized rally. Many scheduled speakers did not get to speak. In addition, they overturned and destroyed the tables and displays of non-profits inside Macarthur Park. The LAPD claimed that they declared the legally permitted event an âunlawful assembly.â But no one heard an official order to disperse or face arrest. In fact, a Fox News reporter heard riot cops say, âBetter hustle, itâs time to tussle,â as they moved in on people with batons and loaded weapons.
May 1 is International Workersâ Day. It started in the United States after police viciously attacked a demonstration of striking workers demanding better working conditions. The police killed several and wounded 200. They blamed the workers for the police violence.
The police strategy is still the same in 2007. This was displayed in L.A. as it has been many times before.
The LAPDâs May 1 attack brings to memory to the violent repression of demonstrators outside the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. Similar tactics were used: firing rubber bullets and beating people without cause; chasing people on foot and in police vehicles, and then tackling and clubbing them; using military formations to intimidate and disperse crowds; and then blaming the victims for the aggression.
The police and Mayor Villaraigosa have promised investigations into the police assault in MacArthur Park. But what will come from the LAPD when its chief, Bratton, has already blamed those attacked and said they were throwing âmissiles?â
What will come from a mayor who wants more police on the streets and has been an apologist for police brutality and murderâlike the killing of Susie PeÃ±aâmany times before? Already, Villaraigosa has assured Los Angeles and his wealthy backers that âorder has been fully restoredââwhen it was the LAPD that broke the âorderâ in the first place.
Little will happen unless the movement demands justice.
Bratton should be fired. His first term as L.A.âs police chief is over, but he has applied for another. The Los Angeles Police Commission has 90 days to decide whether to reappoint him. His history of condoning police terror at the expense of working and oppressed people is clear.
Attacking the immigrant rights movement
When mass movements ariseâlike last yearâs mass upsurge for immigrant rightsâthey often are met with repression in order to maintain the status quo. The immigrant rights movement mobilized millions to demand equality and legalization.
Now, the ruling elite want the movement to go away for good. A wave of racist raids and deportations has swept the country in recent months, aiming to strike fear into immigrant communities. The LAPD action on May 1 is part of that strategy.
But the movement is still alive with potential. The April 7 protest in Los Angeles and now the May 1 protests around the country have showed this.
In the face of racist police violence, it is important that the people stay united to demand justice. We in the ANSWER Coalition demand justice, an end to racist police violence and full rights for all immigrants. Fighting against racism, immigrant bashing and police brutality must be a top priority for the anti-war movement and all progressive organizations.
Take action today
Write an e-mail or contact Mayor Villaraigosa to express your outrage at the attack on immigrant rights marchers and community members. Due to the growing national outrage, Police Chief may try to distance himself from some of the worst police atrocities. But Bratton and other officials must be held responsible since this was a clearly planned and coordinated police assault that lasted a considerable period of time.
ANSWER has set up an easy-to-use mechanism to fax or write a letter to the Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa demanding that Bratton be fired immediately and that his application for reappointment be denied.