LAPD Threatens Removal of Border Crosses
On the morning of Saturday August 12, activists installed over 450 “border crosses” at the United Methodist Church, just up the street from the Staples Center. The installation is “ a memorial to the migrants who have died crossing the border”, said David Hanks of Global Exchange in San Francisco, who was manning the site. Dozens of police cars were at the church Saturday morning as the installation got underway. Officers converged on the church parking lot, questioned participants, and threatened to confiscate the crosses. At one point police threatened to enter church property to seize the crosses. Police were concerned that the crosses could be used as weapons. Hanks replies “It’s a solemn memorial...Using them as weapons would be akin to desecrating a cemetery.”
The Midnight Special Law team was contacted and came to the site at the corner of Olympic and Flower. The team reminded the police of Friday’s ACLU court Injunction against police harassment and preemptive strikes. Hanks also added “This is church property. We reminded the police that it really wouldn’t be smart for them to raid a church, and to confiscated a symbol of the dead, and they backed off.”
As of Sunday at 12:00, the memorial has been left in tact and in peace, attracting journalists, activists and passersby. The church’s small parking lot sits directly on Flower street, right next to a police staging area. On Saturday afternoon over 15 police cars assembled on this cordoned off part of the street. Officers conducted a meeting and later dispersed. Sunday morning found the area once again filled with police cars. Officers chatted with each other, and were using the portable bathrooms installed in the church parking lot, next to the crosses.
Each portable wooden cross represents a life lost while trying to cross the California/Mexico border. The crosses bear a name and the city that person came from, or just the inscription “no identificado”. This installation is intended to draw attention to the problems with “Operation Gatekeeper”, a border control effort begun by the Clinton Administration in 1994. Since the operation began, there has been a 400% rise in the number of deaths while attempting to cross into CA. from Mexico. People are now crossing through rugged dessert terrain, and are not surviving the journey. More information on Operation Gatekeeper and the history of these crosses available at
A Candlelight march and vigil planned for Thursday, August 17 will be using crosses made of foam core. The original wooden crosses can not be used because of a city ordinance prohibiting the use of wooden sticks during demonstrations.