RW ONLINE:Los Angeles 10/22: "Who Let the Pigs Out?"
Los Angeles 10/22:
"Who Let the Pigs Out?"
Protesters Stand Strong in the Face of Police Attack
Revolutionary Worker #1078, November 13, 2000, posted at rwor.org
On October 22, 2000, 2,500 people in L.A. demonstrated on the 5th National
Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality. At the Parker Center police
headquarters, the LAPD launched a brutal assault on the demonstration. The
police wanted to stop the rally and terrorize people--especially the youth and
the families of those who have been murdered by the police. But their
shameless attack failed, and the anger and outrage that fueled people's
resistance on that day continues to reverberate. People are stepping up to get
the truth out, to tell the story of the determination of the people in the
face of cowardly police actions. There have been statements, press
conferences, meetings and non-stop discussion on Internet sites.
The organizers of the National Day of Protest fought for months to get a
permit for a march and rally to encircle Parker Center. A young woman wrote on
the L.A. Independent Media Center (IMC) website, "We got to the police
station, which we had a PERMIT to surround, but the cops decided that we
couldn't... Needless to say, we did it anyway." .
Hundreds of young people and others surged past the stage on Los Angeles
Street to a left turn on First: dressed in black, many with bandanas and other
face coverings, fists in the air. They were not going to be turned back. The
march reached the end of the block. Two more left turns and they would be
around the building. A swarm of cops blocked their path, heavily armed with
all the new weaponry they used at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in
August: clubs, rubber bullets, bean bag guns. The works.
The police had set up a "command post" which included dozens of police
cars, police mounted on over a dozen horses, and hundreds of police in riot
gear already in a police line--with their batons and "non-lethal" weapons out
and ready. Police were slapping their batons on their hands and taunting
In the face of the police, the people danced, shouted, drummed and chanted.
"Who let the pigs out?" They condemned and exposed the cops to their faces,
taunting them about the Rampart scandal that has revealed so many of their
dirty secrets. Small white flags floated above the front of the march with
stenciled images of pigs, "Danger, police in area" and the October 22nd logo.
A huge paper U.S. flag went up in flames, and a puppet pig head was joyfully
stomped into the street.
"Without warning they just came at us and started shooting," a woman
college student wrote to the IMC. The cops shot a barrage of rubber bullets.
People dodged their bullets, retreating down the street, or running to the
side. Then it was right back at them, staring down the barrels of their guns,
cursing and condemning them-- "Motherfuckers!"
Afterwards, the LAPD put out the lie that the police were under attack. But
a video clearly shows the opposite. In one group of cops, two officers are
calmly reloading rubber bullet cylinders and firing steadily at the crowd. All
the cops you see had the plastic protective visors on their riot helmets
pulled up, with their hands at their sides. This was at the moment they were
supposedly ducking rocks and bottles.
The video shows the cops aiming point blank at people. Even though,
according to the warning on the cylinder, rubber bullets are "not intended to
be fired directly at persons." People were hit in the head and the groin. One
woman was hit in the eye. Another woman was shot over seven times, including
in the face. Those with bullhorns were singled out by police and deliberately
shot. Others were clubbed by police on horseback. People from the press and
with video cameras were singled out for shooting or clubbing.
For over four minutes, the constant pop-pop of rubber bullets being fired
echoed along First Street, interspersed with the thud of concussion grenades.
After a pause, the firing started back up. A line of horses moved up the
street, against the constant resistance of a much more fluid line of people.
They stood in front of the horses, some not moving until they were surrounded
or shot or trampled.
The drums pounded and a defiant chant went up: "Whose streets? OUR
STREETS!" A shopping cart rolled toward the police lines. Trash cans and other
objects went into the streets to slow them down. But mainly, people used their
bodies. Some sat down in the street; others walked slowly with their backs to
the rubber bullets. The protesters tried to block the cops on the sidewalks
where the horses couldn't go, grabbing onto trees and holding onto each other
to slow and stop the police advance.
As the police lines turned the corner of First and Los Angeles Streets,
half a block from the stage, it was more difficult for the cops to move
forward against the main part of the rally. The families of those killed by
the police were on the stage, speaking in anger of the lives that have been
stolen by police bullets. The police had to be stopped.
For 15 minutes of non-stop police assault the people had stood firm and
fearless. They didn't break and run, they didn't disperse. The cops escalated
their attacks, trying one more time to panic and scatter protesters. A squad
of riot cops charged through the line of horses, clubbing people in their
path. Another squad swung around beside the retreating demonstrators and fired
into their flank. When the cops got in range they shot at the stage itself.
People jumped onto the stage to protect the children of the families who
were ready to speak. Jim Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild spoke, "This
is a test of how strong, and how much solidarity we really have. There are
officers over there using tear gas, they're using rubber bullets. They think
that if they do that we will run. They think if they do that we will disperse
and go in six different directions. We must stay here, stay strong and stay
Greg Jordan, whose son John was shot in the back and killed by Long Beach
police just last year, was hit in the back three times by rubber bullets as he
shielded his grandchildren. People took shelter under the stage. Twenty yards
from the stage people were packed into a tight mass, with the youth at the
edge. People started to sit down. Rev. Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd of the October
22nd Coalition took the mic and spoke, "Sit down! We have a right to be here.
The police were stopped. They later brought up a sound truck, to declare an
"unlawful assembly" so they could renew their attack, but they never did. When
the cops turned off the generator to the rally's PA system, people continued
to speak with bullhorns and then a portable PA system.
The LAPD refused to allow people with injuries to get medical help. They
sent away paramedics who arrived after the attack began. When a well-known
movement videographer, who was clubbed in the face, tried to get through the
police lines, he was arrested for "interfering with a horse." Although he
eventually needed eight stitches on his chin, and his camera was damaged, he
continued to film. His video made it out, and was used to expose the police
lies. The October 22nd coalition reports three other arrests, including two
reporters charged with misdemeanors for "interfering with an officer" and
"resisting arrest" and a college student who is accused of throwing back a
rubber bullet, charged with a felony "assault with a deadly weapon."
As people left the rally a white police van (with doors opened to display
computer and communications equipment) had an officer openly videotaping
protesters. Cops on motorcycles blared their sirens, rode on the sidewalk and
rammed into protesters. One young woman was put up against a wall with a
rubber bullet gun directly to the back of her head. Despite all these
repressive conditions, protesters proceeded in high spirits back to Olympic
The woman who was hit in the eye suffered permanent damage. She said, "I
still have one good eye to fight them with." The LA Weekly reported
that one 18-year-old student started coughing up blood a couple hours after
being shot in the chest with some sort of projectile. He was hospitalized and
put on intravenous antibiotics.
The eight-year-old daughter of an LA lawyer was hit in the foot. A
53-year-old woman who brought her four children to the march was stepped on by
a horse and shot in the back as she tried to move her children to safety.
Several journalists were shot with rubber bullets, including reporters from
the L.A. Weekly, La Opini and the L.A. Independent Media
Center. A cop later ran his motorcycle into a legal observer from the National
Late Sunday night, a marcher wrote on the IMC website that the police "were
bombarded by invisible weapons of spirit and sheer will in retaliation for
years of systematic extortion and abuse. Oh yeah, and murder. The names and
faces of an entire generation--enough to fill a graduating class
auditorium--were everywhere. Their individual candles were easily blown out.
But today there was a fire. And a fire grows when you blow on it."
There are many reasons for the fires of resistance to grow. In the last
year, people in L.A. have seen a steady stream of revelations of police crimes
in the Rampart scandal and the growing likelihood that few cops will be
punished for them. In August the streets of downtown were turned into a
militarized zone during the Democratic National Convention. Police arrested
hundreds and attacked the Rage Against the Machine concert with clubs and
At the end of the NDP rally, one woman went around and searched the ground
to identify the projectiles fired by police. They included black dense foam
column disks 38 mm in diameter; black grape-size hard rubber bullets, a 40 mm
hard-plastic projectile. There were also clubs used by cops on foot and on
A statement condemning the police violence is being circulated by the
October 22nd Coalition which is asking people to sign it and fax it to L.A.
City officials. El Rescate, a social service organization in the Pico-Union
barrio, sent officials its own statement of outrage saying, "The action by the
police is inexcusable and must not go overlooked." An October 26 press
conference sponsored by the ACLU of Southern California and the National
Lawyers Guild was reported on by several local TV stations.
As usual, the cops justified their actions. LAPD Commander Louis Gray
admitted he never read the permit, and nobody told him what it said. But he
added, in typical ignorant cop fashion, "It seemed to me they were supposed to
remain in front of Parker Center." The police also said they were under
attack. Of course the L.A. Times and other mainstream media are putting
out the cops' story. But many alternative journalists were right there with
the people and are exposing the truth.
By October 23, the first photos and reports were up on the website of the
L.A. Independent Media Center (IMC). It now features dozens of stories and
photos of both the march and the police attack. An article exposing the police
attack and the people's determination in holding their rally in the face of it
appeared in the L.A. Weekly. There have been articles in college
The IMC website included comments from people who were there and other
statements of support. A man from Albany, NY wrote, "I wish that my brothers
and sisters in L.A. didn't have to bear the horror of an overzealous police
force, but when you stand up to such state terror, it is an overwhelming
A woman wrote, "I personally saw many acts of police brutality today
(inflicted on not only myself, but friends, children, the elderly, etc.) and
it HAS to stop... Today, the LAPD tried to quiet our voices with their
brutality, but we overcame them to get our messages across... we need to keep
fighting if we ever want to see anything done." Another message ended with a
phrase that's become popular since the DNC: "Thanks to everyone who faced the
militarized police state. This is only the beginning. These assholes fucked
with the WRONG generation."
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker
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