May 14, 2007
In Los Angeles, riot police attacked an immigrant rights May Day rally in MacArthur Park. Just as a couple of local television stations were setting up for a live report from the rally, in barreled the police, forcing reporters and their crew to flee at gun and club point. Several hundred cops from the elite Metro unit carried out a well coordinated and methodical attack, clubbing people and firing an estimated 200 rounds of “less than lethal” rubber bullets and bean bags.
The cops targeted anyone who happened to be in or around the park, demonstrators, terrified picnickers, families with children, elderly people, even people sitting in the restaurants on the edge of the park.
Immediately after the attack, the LAPD tried to deflect blame to a bunch of what they called “anarchists,” who, the LAPD said, had thrown rocks and bottles. But no one bought it, not with all those people who had been terrorized by the LAPD, suffered broken bones and nasty bruises and welts from police clubs and rubber bullets and bean bags.
So Police Chief William Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vowed to open up at least three investigations and punish those responsible. A few days later, Chief Bratton announced that he was demoting and reassigning Deputy Chief Cayler “Lee” Carter, the highest-ranking officer at the MacArthur Park cop riot, and reassigning the bureau's No. 2, Commander Louis Gray. He also announced that many of the Metro unit cops would be taken off the streets for special “training.”
Thus, the LAPD and city officials went into their usual damage control mode, making a few token moves, while really stalling, buying time, trying to demobilize people.
Whether ordinary people let the LAPD and city officials get away with this is another question. A week after the May Day attack, the organizers of the May Day immigrant rights demonstrations announced a new demonstration for June 24.
The LAPD riot on May Day was an attack against all those who would demonstrate for their rights. It should end up provoking a much bigger outpouring on the streets on June 24.